Marilyn Marie Bode (1945-2023), a Friend Gone Too Soon

A favorite photo of Marilyn (left) and her daughter Jill
Marilyn Lawson was a grade behind me in school, but we farm girls rode the same bus through high school. She was Cousin Judy’s seatmate, but when basketball season arrived, Judy and my seatmate (Emily Nevitt) stayed for practice, so Marilyn and I shared a bus seat.
We were both members of the Penn Gwens 4-H club and did at least two demonstrations together (one giving us a chance to do it at the 1962 Waterloo Dairy Cattle Congress.)
Both of us were in the French horn section of the Earlham band.
After high school, Marilyn and I were mainly “Christmas card friends” for a few decades, but when she returned to Iowa, she not only became a beta reader for the first two “Leora books,” she also hosted me for two book clubs (at Dexter and Minburn).
Delta Kappa Gamma at the Dallas County Freedom Rock in Minburn, 2021. I’m in red, Marilyn is at the right.
I knew that Marilyn was a polio survivor but she never talked about it during our growing up days. Years later she wrote a book about the experience for her children and grandchildren. Both the Dexter Museum and the Dexter Library have a copy of it, called My Mean Mom, because of the arduous physical therapy they endured after weeks in the hospital.
Marilyn shared her polio journey as part of the Senior Speaker Series in Earlham, and was a finalist at the the 2021 Our American Stories event in Des Moines.
Marilyn often shared cheerful stories on Facebook about their too-active dog Skippy, piano pieces, and even her early attempts with her new marimba. I miss those.
How I’ll miss this delightful and generous friend.
Marilyn’s obituary.
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. – Deuteronomy 33:27


  1. I too am sorry for your loss, Joy. It must have been such a delight to reconnect with Marilyn decades later! Shared memories create strong bonds between friends. May those memories now offer comfort.

    • I learned even more at the funeral, especially from a man Marilyn fairly “adopted” after he was an exchange 4-Her from Costa Rica decades ago. Even by her folks, who also traveled with Marilyn to Costa Rica to meet his family.

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