Marilyn O'Brien, age 89, of Mazeppa, Minnesota has seen her cardinals, and passed away on Tuesday, October 17, 2023 at the Zumbrota Care Center. Born in Hamilton County, Iowa to Rayner and Eva Nickles, she was raised on a family farm. She graduated in 1951 from Lincoln High School, Webster City, Iowa. Upon graduation, she worked a split shift as a telephone operator. She also worked at Beam Manufacturing to make washing machines. On July 25, 1954, she married Dennis O'Brien at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Webster City, Iowa. Marilyn was strongly dedicated to her loving husband for 69 years.
They rented farmland in the Kasson and Dodge Center, Minnesota area from 1955-1967. They worked side-by-side to raise corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. Marilyn worked as a legal secretary at the Erickson Law office in Kasson. In 1967, they moved to Mazeppa to run their 240 acre farm until present day. Marilyn worked as a secretary at the Zumbrota Elementary School office from 1968-1998. In this role, she wore many hats.
She enjoyed collecting Hummel's, Precious Moments, nativity sets, and angels. Marilyn and Dennis decorated their home and farm for the Christmas season and invited family, friends and neighbors to tour their magical winter wonderland. Marilyn and Dennis enjoyed square dancing and developed lifelong friendships with fellow dancers. They liked camping weekends and anniversary/birthday pranks with their group. As a volunteer, she delivered Meals on Wheels in Mazeppa. At Rochester Methodist Hospital she gave hand massages to patients and led a group of adventuresome women in Red Hat Lady outings.
Upon retirement, she traveled extensively visiting all seven continents. She enjoyed a safari and a hot air balloon ride in Africa, bungee jumping in New Zealand, Australia, seeing penguins in Antarctica, the South American rain forest, Ireland, Israel, and riding elephants in Thailand. Along the way, she tried parasailing and hang gliding. Her proudest moment was skydiving with each of her eight grandchildren when they graduated from high school.
Marilyn took pleasure in visiting with her church family at United Methodist Church, singing for numerous weddings and funerals, and playing the piano for the congregation. She brought home-grown flower bouquets to share at the Sunday church service. Her lifelong hobby of gardening created beauty all year. She grew unique plants and nourished some struggling flowers to thriving blooms. Marilyn appreciated each season and the rhythm of the farm. She worked from sunrise to sundown and beyond to complete the unending tasks at hand.
Marilyn is survived by her husband, Dennis, her children, daughters Debra Thomford (David Nagorney), Sharon (Rick) Buck, sons, David (Janelle) O'Brien and Michael O'Brien. Her eight grandchildren are Marcus (Riki) Thomford, Matthew (Ally) Thomford, and Ryan Thomford, Cody (Erin) Buck, Kelby (Brandi) Buck, Casey (Erin) Buck, Chalsie (PJ) Poncelet, Brittany (Josh) Arndt. Her 12 great grandchildren are Regina and Louis Thomford, Blake Thomford, Marcus Young, Avery and Sean Buck, Paxton and Brynlee Buck, Tanner and Spencer Poncelet, Sawyer and Mckinlee Arndt.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents, sister Doris (Orrin) Crouch, Helen (Curt) Amdahl, and brother Gerald (Marge) Nickles and a great grandson Tucker Arndt.
Suggestions for memorials are: Mazeppa Historical Society, St. Jude Children's Hospital, or Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska.
Special thanks to the Mayo Hospice Team and staff at the Zumbrota Care Center who went above and beyond to provide excellent comfort care. Marilyn generously gifted her body to the Mayo Bequest Program for study and research.
A Memorial Service will be held 11:00 am Monday, October 23, 2023 at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home 5421 Royal Place NW, Rochester, MN. A Visitation will be held 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm Sunday, October 22, 2023 at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home 5421 Royal Place NW, Rochester, MN and a visitation an hour before the service.
Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is honored to be serving the O'Brien family; to share a special memory or condolence please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com