Marilyn Flom Heley passed away Tuesday, July 18, 2017, following complications from emergency heart surgery. Marilyn was born March 14, 1932, near Kenyon, MN, to Norwegian dairy farmers Arnold and Amanda. Marilyn received her spiritual upbringing in this farm community. She and her family were deeply committed to Holden Lutheran Church, and also valued education, which led Marilyn to attend St. Olaf College for her degree in Christian Education. Marilyn’s father always told her she could not wed until she graduated from college, so she married her high school sweetheart, Jim Heley, that very night. In early marriage, Marilyn’s degree inspired her work as a Johnson County Social Worker. Marilyn and Jim were a team. Jim, the daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were the light of her life. Being involved in their lives and activities, including arriving very early and sitting in the first row brought her great joy.
Marilyn also had a passion for reading and research. A common phrase was “Let’s look it up.” In 1990, Marilyn returned to school and earned her Master’s in Library Science from Emporia State University, and worked as an information specialist for the Johnson County Library System. During this time, she founded their Senior Outreach Program. After her retirement, and until her recent hospitalization, Marilyn continued serving Johnson County seniors through her Book Talks and “Meet the Author” presentations at several area retirement communities. (Please return any books she lent you to the library!)
Marilyn took great pride in giving back to her community in other ways as well: leading Campfire Girls, coordinating Christian Education at Faith Lutheran Church, singing in the church choir, founding the church library and Faith Book Club, and volunteering for Metropolitan Lutheran Ministries, HeadStart, Harvesters, the Picture Lady Program, PTA, Indian Hills Jr. High library, and a multitude of other school organizations. To acknowledge her community service, Marilyn received awards from the following organizations: Shepherd Center, Johnson County Library, Shawnee Mission PTA, City of Prairie Village, Campfire Girls, Metropolitan Lutheran Ministries, Johnson County Commission on Aging, and Lutheran Council on Mission and Ministry (Lamb Award).
Marilyn is preceded in death by her parents and her “boyfriend” of 70 years, James Heley. Celebrating Marilyn’s life are her sister, Genie Calgaard (Ron); her brother, Mark Flom (Connie); her six favorite daughters, Lynn Heley Ford, Kay Heley (Bill Roush), Sue Heley, Jill Heley-Otterson (Daniel), Kara Heley Quist (Michael), and Nicole Heley Lehman (Aaron); 15 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren, a plethora of family, friends, and the seniors she served. These and more received cards regularly. Marilyn’s penchant for “staying in touch” will most likely affect stock prices of various greeting card companies (insider tip… sell, sell).
A memorial service will be held at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 7851 W. 119th St., Overland Park, KS on Friday, July 28th at 2:30pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to: Harvesters, 3801 Topping Avenue, Kansas City, MO 64129 or Metro Lutheran Ministry, 3031 Holmes Street, Kansas City, MO 64109
Mom, your daughters are going to miss being at the “top of your yellow pad”, pretending we did not know the Halloween witch roaming the school halls, the endless supply of food for all who entered our home, the piles of reference books and art supplies for our school projects, the new wardrobe choices that magically appeared on our beds for special events, sharing cultural arts and events, how you made ordinary events a celebration, how you introduced lutefisk and family heritage to us, your appreciation of other cultures, your uncanny ability to recognize which of us was crying on the other end of the phone, your unconditional love, and knowing that we were each your favorite daughter. We are so proud of you.
Grandma, we will miss our birthday scrapbooks, the cards you mailed us with a $5.00 bill tucked inside, your interest in our education, sports, activities, jobs and challenges, our favorite foods you
made, your fancy disposable camera and questionable photography skills, and always hearing you say, “I’m proud of you.” Grandma, WE ARE PROUD OF YOU…