Marilyn Sturdivant Nelson, 95, of Joy, IL, entered eternal life on February 25, 2021 at the Clarissa C. Cook Hospice House in Bettendorf, Iowa. A memorial service will be held later in the summer of 2021. Memorials may be left to College Avenue Presbyterian Church or Edwards River Public Library, both in Aledo, IL. Speer Funeral Home, Aledo assisted the family and condolences may be left at speerfuneralhome.com.
Marilyn was born August 3, 1925 in Moline, IL to Juanita Vance and James Oscar Sturdivant. She spent her childhood in Lakewood, Ohio and graduated from Lakewood High School. She was a proud alumna of Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, graduating with a Business Personnel degree in 1947. Marilyn loved attending her class reunions starting at the 50th in 1997 and continuing to the 70th reunion in 2017. She was honored as the oldest alumna and a highlight was leading the parade with the president of the college.
On May 12, 1951 Marilyn married Wayne Nelson of Joy, IL in Lakewood, Ohio. They lived on the family farm their entire married life. They celebrated 55 years together until his death in 2006. Marilyn lived independently on the farm the rest of her life. She enjoyed yard work and swore that picking up sticks was one of the secrets of her long life. She also wielded a Ruger 10/22 and knew how to use it to rid her yard of varmints. Marilyn also enjoyed a competitive game of bridge and was an avid reader. Her evenings were filled with Turner Classic Movies. Marilyn was an active member of College Avenue Presbyterian Church and also a member of PEO, Friends of the Library, and the American Association of University Women.
In April 1976 Marilyn and her family entertained King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during the royal visit to the United States. Marilyn and Wayne loved to travel the world. They traveled to Egypt, Africa, India, Nepal, Iraq, and Iran. The also traveled extensively throughout Europe. On their second trip to Russia in 1980 they took the train across Siberia. They were on the last trans-Atlantic voyage of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in 2002 to the British Isles and France. During that trip, Marilyn was blessed to meet her penpal, Kay, from Ireland that she had corresponded with since junior high school.
Marilyn is survived by her son, Chris Nelson (Judy) of Holland, MI; her daughter, Lorine Etheridge (Michael) of Aledo; her grandsons: Timothy (Allison) of Holland, MI; Steven (Morgan) of Pittsburgh, PA; Peter (Carly) of Overland Park, KS; and Andrew (Beth) of Holland, MI; and Alex (Jessica) Etheridge of Champaign, IL. Marilyn was blessed with eight great-grandchildren: Elias, Hadley, and Abram Nelson; August Behr and Lucia Nelson; and Rhodes, Forrester, and Avonlea Etheridge. Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents, an infant grandson, and her husband, Wayne.