Marilyn Kendall Nellis, 90, passed away peacefully on December 29, 2021, at The House at Midland Care, Topeka, Kansas. Marilyn was born in Great Bend, Kansas, on March 24, 1931, to loving parents Paul and Dorothy Kendall. Also very important in her life were two sets of adoring grandparents and a doting older brother, Charles Kendall. She relayed a near-idyllic childhood in a memoir she wrote, including details of special visits to her grandparents, fun with cousins, “The Nightly Games” with neighbor children, knitting sweaters for “Bundles for Britain” during World War II, and more.
Happy years continued throughout high school and into college at KU, where she met her loving husband, Jim. Marilyn and Jim married in June of 1954. She taught third grade at what is now Whitson Elementary as he was learning his father’s insurance business.
They soon began their family of four children. Marilyn was an excellent homemaker, supporting Jim throughout his subsequent careers. It was important to her to make time for others in the community as well. She led Camp Fire Girl groups, and was active in the Junior League of Topeka, Chapter EP of PEO, Friends of the Mulvane Art Museum, and Central Congregational Church. She maintained life-long friendships with her sorority sisters from Kappa Kappa Gamma. Marilyn and Jim loved to entertain and spent many wonderful evenings over dinner with a multitude of friends. They also loved spending time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where they honeymooned. This beautiful spot held a special place in their hearts.
Marilyn loved to play bridge, travel, and learn new things, enjoying her Book Club and attending Osher Classes at Brewster Place as recently as this year. She was happy, content and positive by nature, and she will be missed by many.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her husband of 60 years, Jim, who died in 2015. She is survived by her children, Cindy Stevens (Dave), Margie Brown (Larry), Kay Williams (Mike Gerrish), and Scott Nellis (Gina); 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren; a brother, Dr. Charles “Chuck” Kendall (Portia) of Independence, Missouri; and several cousins.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Boys & Girls Club of Topeka.
A celebration of Marilyn’s life will take place on Saturday, June 11th, at 10:30am at Penwell-Gabel Midtown Chapel, 1321 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, Kansas. A Reception will follow at the Topeka Country Club, 2700 SW Buchanan St, Topeka. Livestreaming be available to those who are unable to attend.
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