Philanthropist, volunteer extraordinaire, educator, leader, mother and grandmother, Marilyn Joan MacKenzie Threlkeld died on Sept. 21, 2012, her 83rd birthday, from complications during surgery.
A memorial open house will be held at First Baptist Church, 213 East 3rd Street in Sweetwater on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, from 2-5 p.m. There will be no interment; in her usual selfless and loving manner, Marilyn donated her remains to the Genesis Medical Education and Research Institute.
Simply, Marilyn loved to help people. She was born in 1929 in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Opal Miller and David Bruce Mackenzie. Marilyn and her mother settled by Lake Michigan after eight years of traveling as a family throughout the US seeking steady income. She described days of an idyllic girlhood. As the daughter of a suffragette, separated, working mom, Marilyn learned independence and self-reliance early. She started part-time work at the age of 14, providing child care overnight and on weekends, while holding a variety of clerical and shop jobs.
She married Richard James Threlkeld, Sr. in 1948 while attending Coe College, where she attended on scholarship and was an active member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. As the wife of an Air Force officer, she travelled the world, which fueled her future love of travel. She bore three children who survive her: Richard Threlkeld and Dave Threlkeld, both currently residing in Arlington, TX; and Anne Wright of Norco, CA. After arriving at Dyess AFB in Abilene from Morocco, Marilyn repeated the story of her girlhood when she too became a single mother.
Marilyn juggled single parenthood while finishing her B.S. in education at Hardin Simmons University. She made the Dean’s List each semester, was a member of Alpha Chi Honor Society and graduated in 1965, Magna Cum Laude. She immediately began teaching third grade at Jackson Elementary in the Abilene ISD. Deciding to change educational roles, she gained a Masters in 1979 at Hardin-Simmons and landed a job as a Co-op Counselor for Region 14 ESC. She moved to Sweetwater at this time.
Being the ever present learner, she obtained a library certification, and when travelling around the world, would always stop by and visit the local library. During her educator phase of life, Marilyn additionally was an active member of Delta Kappa Gamma, American Association of University Women, the Big Country branch of the Texas Counselors Association and the Humane Society.
Upon retirement during the last 20 years, she became an increasingly active community contributor in the Texas State Teachers Association and served as a board member. Other board leadership included Rolling Plains Hospital Auxiliary, Sweetwater Book Review Club and Sweetwater Women’s Forum. She additionally volunteered with the Animal Shelter, the Sweetwater Library and the Sweetwater Little Theater. Many know of her political interests as exemplified by her work as a polling agent and census-taker.
Marilyn was a philanthropist, who established four endowed scholarships: at McMurray College, the Wilnette Spencer Memorial; at Coe College, the Ursula M Savel Memorial; at Texas Tech, the celebratory Anne Threlkeld Wright for Vocal Performance; and at Texas State Technical College (TSTC), the Tom Kennedy Memorial for Nursing.
Besides her three children and six grandchildren, Marilyn had two other great passions, genealogy and travel. She visited most of Europe, Oceania, and the Galapagos Islands, as well as the Northwestern and Midwestern United States. She had a hunger to experience diversity of culture and to seek and connect the dots of her and her children’s ancestry.
In lieu of flowers or simply in Memoriam of Marilyn Threlkeld, please send donations to the Texas State Technical College-Sweetwater Foundation and specify as a donation to the Tom Kennedy Memorial Endowed Scholarship.