Marilyn L. VanderGeest

June 10, 1928 ~ February 1, 2020 (age 91)


Marilyn L. VanderGeest, 91, of Marshall, passed away on Saturday morning, February 1, 2020 at Oaklawn Hospital in the loving care of her family.

Marilyn was born June 10, 1928 in Chicago to Earl F. and Louise A. (Zehme) Blake.  She moved to the Decatur, Michigan area as a child and attended country school.  She entered the eighth grade in town at the Decatur High School.  Marilyn played trumpet in the high school band.  She graduated from Decatur High School in 1945 and began taking classes at the Parsons Business College.    

She and her future husband Donald L. VanderGeest actually both attended Decatur High School at the same time but never dated.  When Don returned home from serving in the U.S. Navy in 1946, he quickly fixed that with a date and they soon started going together.   

The couple were united in marriage February 12, 1949 in Decatur.  Don went back to college while Marilyn worked at a bank in Paw Paw to help support them as Don finished college.  After his graduation from college the couple moved to the Eau Claire area in 1953 where Don taught and coached beginning in the 1953-54 school year.  They bought a small cottage on Dewey Lake that was far from a finished home!  They remodeled it to be more habitable and lived there until they moved to Grand Ledge 1957-58.  They kept that cottage until moving to Marshall.

They moved to Marshall in 1963 and have lived here since.    Marilyn started with the Marshall Public School System in 1964 as the secretary for Bill Strough who was in charge of the Industrial Arts Department, where Don taught Industrial arts, while also coaching basketball and golf.  Marilyn was also a secretary at Crary School.   The last 18+ years of her career, Marilyn was the secretary for Principal Bill Church at Gordon School.  Marilyn retired in 1990. 

Marilyn loved attending the basketball games husband Don coached, and later that her sons played in!  She always loaded the kids in the car when they were little and took them to the games.  She was a familiar sight for all those years at the different schools where she would sit across from the scoring table so she could watch Don coach.  

She loved to bowl and was a team member in Marshall leagues for many years.   Marilyn continued bowling until her late 70’s.  She knitted, crocheted, sewed and enjoyed creative hand work.  She and Don enjoyed playing cards with friends.  Pinochle was her favorite game!

Marilyn was an adventurous woman who enjoyed camping.  She and Don took their children to camp at Pentwater every summer, camping there for a week.    Many memories were created with family camping vacations to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Bighorn Mountains, Black Hills and Estes Park.  

After retirement Marilyn and Don went to Florida every year where they visited son Kent and family. Marilyn enjoyed numerous trips with Don to California, where they got to watch the California grandsons play basketball. In 2006 Marilyn and Don took a trip to the Netherlands with son Kirk and family to visit where Don’s family originated. 

She was a member of the Marshall United Methodist Church.   

Surviving are her husband Don, their sons Kirk (Janice) VanderGeest of Clovis, CA, Kent (Victoria) VanderGeest of Hobe Sound, FL, and daughter Gail VanderGeest of Marshall;  5 grandchildren Blake (Megan) VanderGeest, Brett (Nicole) VanderGeest, Grant VanderGeest, Kelli VanderGeest, and Kaci VanderGeest; 4 great-grandchildren , Noelle and Miles and, twins Emma and Eden VanderGeest;  nieces and nephews.

Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents Earl and Louise Blake and her brothers William and Donald Blake. 

The family will gather with friends and share memories on Tuesday from 5PM-8PM at Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 723 US Hwy 27 N, Marshall, MI 49068. 

A Celebration of Marilyn’s Life led by family friend Rev. James Abshagen will be held on Wednesday Feb. 5 at 11AM at Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services, 723 US Hwy 27 N, Marshall, MI 49068.

Graveside services will be held at Cuddeback Cemetery, 66938 41 & ½ Street, Paw Paw on Wednesday afternoon at 3PM.  Decatur area friends that can’t make the drive to Marshall are invited to gather at the cemetery beginning at 2:45PM. 

The family suggests memorial contributions to either the The Fountain Clinic, 111 S. Jefferson, Marshall,MI 49068

or the Humane Society of South Central Michigan, 2500 Watkins Road, Battle Creek, MI  49015 ( 

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February 4, 2020

5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services
723 US Hwy 27 N
Marshall, MI 49068

Celebration of Life
February 5, 2020

11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services
723 US Hwy 27 N
Marshall, MI 49068


Fountain Clinic
111 N. Jefferson Street, Marshall MI 49068

Humane Society of SC Michigan
2500 Watkins Road, Battle Creek MI 49015

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