Marilyn Faye Bohnenblust Shelley passed away Monday, February 19, at 8:55 a.m. at the Lawrence, Kansas, Presbyterian Manor. She is survived by her husband of 69 years, Wallace Shelley, and by daughters and husbands Rhonda and Danny Ray, Hugoton, Kansas, and Rita Shelley and Wil Perry, Omaha, NE. She is also survived by daughter-in-law Jan Tedrow, Eudora. Kansas. Son Scott Shelley died in 1992. Grandchildren Jessica Shelley Claussen, Robyn Shelley McCracken, Wayne Ray, Ginny Ray Muncy, Tandy Ray, and Miles Perry, mourn her loss, as do her brother, Ronald Bohnenblust, and niece and husband Jill Shelley and Dave Baldwin. Eight great-grandchildren also survive.
Born August 30, 1928, in Riley, Kansas, to Martin and Lula Bohnenblust, Marilyn met Wallace at a college spring formal dance in 1947. When they married in 1949, it was as if the story had already been written for a life raising three children, just getting by with somehow just enough, the scouts/school/sports/church years, side-by-side “the French teacher and the librarian” years, and retirement travels to national parks and the Northwest. Once they discovered Bayfield, Wisconsin, it became the Shelley summer gathering place with their children and spouses but, more importantly, grandchildren.
As a career librarian and public library advocate, Marilyn was dedicated to opening minds. In the early 60s, she helped raise funds for the first free-standing public library in Minneapolis, Kansas. This led to her discovering her calling as a public school librarian while in her 40s completing political science and Master of Library Science degrees magna cum laude at Emporia State University.
For Marilyn, “librarian” was an active verb. At her libraries in Hugoton and Garnett (Kansas) and Chillicothe (Missouri) high schools, she stayed ahead of students and teachers, gathering the materials she knew they would need, whether Encyclopedia Britannica or Rolling Stone magazine.
After retirement, Marilyn served on the board of the Garnett Public Library, bringing her knowledge, experience and vision to a bond issue and major expansion of its children’s library. She spoke to voters at public meetings to make sure the bond issue passed and that voters understood, as she did, the importance of investing in the future. She was also active in American Association of University Women, Delta Kappa Gamma, and was on the board of Anderson County senior services.
Marilyn was a needle worker and seamstress. Her counted cross stitch pillow covers, Christmas stockings, ornaments, and wall hangings number in the hundreds. She sewed hundreds of quilts. Even as she fought Parkinson’s, she fashioned a splint out of an empty thread spool to hold her fingers steady so she could still manage a needle and thread.
Marilyn, Wallace, children, and the loving staff at the Presbyterian Manor and Great Lakes Hospice, together fought her Parkinson’s with grace, determination, creativity, and grit. We were inspired by her, we miss her, but we know she is once again in the company of her parents and Scott, and so many others who knew and loved her in so many, many ways.
‘bye, Mama. Love you.
(Services will be held in Lawrence at a later date.)
For more information or to post a condolence go to warrenmcelwain.com.