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Welcome to the memorial page for

Marilyn S. McKinney

May 24, 2017

The Piano Brothers

Marilyn McKinney, daughter of Thelma and John Ford Stratton, was born in 1928 in Kalamazoo. Marilyn spent her happy childhood in Allegan, moving to Gull Lake when she was in junior high school. Marilyn attended Frances Shimer College in Mount Carroll, Ill., for two years. After graduation she took her first job at Upjohn Co. in Kalamazoo working in the pharmaceutical office.

Marilyn met Jerry McKinney at a New Year's Eve party in 1948. He turned out to be the man of her dreams and soul mate for life. They married months later. They celebrated the birth of their daughter, Jill, a year later and bought their first house in Kalamazoo. Just after the move they completed their family with the birth of son, Michael. Marilyn "kept the home fires burning" while Jerry's employment required him to travel. The McKinney's were a happy, typical 1950s family. From the very beginning Marilyn and Jerry made a perfect team.

In the summer of 1960, Marilyn and Jerry moved their family to St. Joseph, where Jerry had entered into a business partnership with Arthur Klug at Glenlord Lumber. 

Marilyn devoted her adult life to a very long, successful and fulfilling career as extraordinary daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Along the way she took time for Girl Scouts, first as a leader and then neighborhood chairman for several years. Marilyn was the first president of the women's organization at Shoreham Terrace Nursing Home, later called Lakeland Continuing Care Center. She more recently served on the board of Lakeland Medical Center. Marilyn also served on the board of the First Congregational Church and was a past president of the church's unita club, now called women's fellowship.

In the early years, Marilyn enjoyed her bowling leagues. As a 40-year member of Berrien Hills Country Club she loved her golf games, especially when she played with Jerry. In fact, Marilyn was never more happy or fulfilled than when she shared her time with her loving husband. Later in life, the two traveled the world with each other and their family, and the memories they made then were those they treasured the most as they aged.

Marilyn's whole life exemplified selflessness, kindness and perseverance. She faced all challenges with faith, hope and so much grace. Most of all she saw God's blessings in her life so well lived.

Marilyn and Jerry moved to Boise, Idaho, in 2012 to be near family. They resided at Willow Park Assisted Living. Jerry passed away in 2013. Marilyn made many friends and continued a comfortable, active life there until her passing on May 24, 2017.

The Willow Park staff always cared for Marilyn lovingly and compassionately in the four and a half years she resided there. St. Luke's Hospice joined her team of caregivers toward her end of life.

Marilyn is survived by her children, Jill Carissimi of Boise, Idaho, and Michael (Mary) McKinney of Torrance, Calif.; her grandchildren: Courtney (Adam) Christenson of Boise, Idaho, Colin (Lisa) McKinney of Fort Myers, Fla., and Casey Carissimi of Boise, Idaho; and three great-grandchildren. 

Marilyn was preceded in death by Jerry; her parents; and half sister, Dorothy (Robert) Irwin.

Memorials may be made to the First Congregational Church of St. Joseph. Her ashes, along with Jerry's, will be interred at Riverview Cemetery in St. Joseph, in the fall. 


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