Marilyn Ruth (Wheeler) Hatcher
Marilyn Ruth Wheeler Hatcher was born October 7, 1936 to Harry E Wheeler and Bertha Louise Noll Wheeler in Springfield, Illinois. Her home was built by her parents from a Sears and Roebuck kit. Marilyn was the fifth of six children. All her growing up years, they lived in the same little 24’ square house on Lincoln Ave. in Springfield, in a neighborhood with many relatives who came from Germany. Marilyn passed her summer days playing in the Oakridge Cemetery, in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln’s tomb. Abe became one of Mom’s idols for life.
Marilyn attended the Elliott Ave Baptist Church and went to the Enos School for her elementary education. She graduated from Lanphier High School. She loved being in the a capella choir, and that wasn’t just for her love of singing. She met the love of her life, Kenneth Hatcher there. Mom invited Dad to go to Thanksgiving Dinner at her aunt’s house in Springfield. As soon as dinner was over, Dad started washing dishes. Aunt Irene asked Mom, “Is that your boyfriend in the kitchen?” Of course, Mom claimed him, and Auntie said, “You better hold on to him!” She certainly did hold on tight. Their lives were parallel from the days of childhood when Mom didn’t even know that Ken rode his bike in front of her house to get to the fishing hole, and that they may have engaged in a swimming pool brawl of boys against girls, or that they frequented the same grocery stores and the library. But when they were introduced in high school, they became inseparable. Dad even braved taking her to the Senior Prom-- not knowing how to dance, but he wasn’t going to let another boy take her!
During the spring of 1954, Dad went off to Navy boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Chicago, IL. Mom finished her senior year writing love letters every day. She met him in the Chaplain’s office on May 1, 1954. (yes-- Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!) They were married, but because he was still in boot camp and living in barracks, Mom had to go home with her mother. But as soon as Dad had his first assignment, Mom left Springfield on a bus bound for Memphis, TN to begin her married life. The most beautiful baby there ever was, was born while they were stationed there. Mom entered photos of their son Leland in beautiful baby contests, and won! Two years later, they were stationed in Biloxi, MS, and Bryan was born. Mom always had a very special place in her heart for her two boys.
They moved on, to Hawaii, where the missionaries found the Hatcher family, two young parents and two little boys, far from home. In her days of Vacation Bible School, Mom had been taught that Jesus had apostles. There were stories of prophets in the Bible too. As a child, she believed we should have help and guidance like that today. She studied and prayed hard for five months, but the truth is, the Spirit told her that these missionaries were bringing her the gospel of Jesus Christ even as they stood at the door the first time they met.
Mom didn’t enjoy Hawaii too much because the boys were always being infected with impetigo, a bacterial skin disease spread by flies. As soon as they were out of boxes in Riverside, CA, Dad was told to prepare for a one year assignment in Japan, and his family had to stay behind. Mom and the boys went back to Springfield, IL, to be near family for the year of separation. It was a Relief Society Sister who took Mom to the hospital and stayed there with her through labor and delivery of a little girl who was her consolation while Dad was so far away, back in the days when letters took weeks to deliver. She invented a combo name, Kendalyn.
When the family was reunited, they bounced for a while, with short stays and meeting good friends in Norman, OK, Aurora, CO, Las Vegas, NV, Tropic, UT and finally northern Idaho, which became their beloved home for 56 years. At each stop there were very kind Relief Society sisters who taught Mom how to sew clothes, crochet rag rugs, grow vegetables, can garden produce, and cook nutritious meals for a growing family. Lisa adopted Mom’s ability to satisfy the ‘hungries’ better than anyone.
During the time in Coeur D’Alene, through Mom’s example of constant faith in Jesus Christ, her prayers, and the friendships in the ward, Dad was baptized and ordained to the Priesthood. They took our family to be sealed in the Cardston Alberta Temple in October 1969. Mom and Dad have been steadfast in their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ from the time they knew each principle was true. Mom accepted every calling that was extended to her in the church. She especially loved teaching Relief Society lessons and seminary. She always wanted to know more of the gospel herself. She would have loved to wear a black missionary badge, but that never happened. Instead, she and Dad did all they could to be of service to others every day of their lives.
Soon after their move to Grangeville, ID, Lisa was born. While in Grangeville, Melinda, Carolyn, and Cheryl joined the family. But by the time Cheryl was born, Lee, Bryan and Kendalyn were launched into the big wide world.
Mom’s years were filled with hours of balancing the budget, sewing dresses, (a skill Melinda took to a new level of perfection), taking home study courses, writing letters the old- fashioned way, and learning how to do genealogy in between meals and laundry. She enjoyed the mountains and forests. She enticed us to do our chores, offering a picnic and swimming trip to Cotter Bar, a sandbar in the Clearwater River. She took us camping--even if Dad wasn’t there to go along. We older siblings will never forget her driving the panel van with 7 children and her blind sister from Florida and getting lost in the Gospels wilderness in North-central Idaho, known for the one-way roads with spectacular views on all sides!
It was a dream come true for her to enroll in some real college classes after the move to Lewiston. She took math, though nobody knows why. She loved English and writing.
Mom earned her badge of courage, first taking Carolyn to countless doctor visits at Primary Children’s Hospital. Later, she found that you can do anything you have to do for your child, when Cheryl faced 16 months of cancer. And again, when Lee finally came home for his last two years of mortality, Mom had a few more weeks in the hospital with him. By the time she had seen her youngest daughter and her eldest son pass away, she laid down the law that nobody else goes before her!
In their empty nest years, Mom persuaded Dad to try square dancing with friends. They got an RV and drove to Alaska. They bought bicycles and had some fun times riding the trails in Lewiston and the Hiawatha Rail Trail. Mom arranged for their 50th wedding anniversary cruise through the Panama Canal. They had free airline travel for a few years and took advantage of that to visit family and friends. Mom loved walking and talking with her friends on the levee beside the Clearwater and the Snake Rivers.
Dad started getting cancerous growths on his skin several years ago. Eventually he was diagnosed with melanoma, and Mom could see that he was probably going to break her law about leaving her behind. They did the battle themselves in Lewiston for the first couple of years. As time passed, the brood of Hatchers convinced them that they should move to Bountiful before things took a sudden turn. We gave them a long list of advantages to being here, including the opportunity for a lot more visits with family and friends from afar. In September 2018, they made that heartbreaking decision to leave Lewiston. It was like attending their own funeral to liquidate their home of 35 years and drive away with one small U-Haul truck. But they did it together, and gave their kids a great gift in letting their home go. It was a very sad day for them both to leave their beloved home and friends in Idaho, and take the last leg of their journey in Bountiful. But as C.S. Lewis says, “There are far better things ahead, than any we leave behind”. We should believe that. The last Valentine’s Day, the 65th wedding anniversary, and one more birthday for Dad were celebrated. There were so many happy reunions of friends and family during the nine months before Dad passed away on June 9, 2019. Mom and Dad met some very dear friends at Creekside Senior Living. We thank each one who extended the hand of friendship to Ken and Marilyn Hatcher. Mom stayed relatively independent for the next eight months, but she missed Dad every minute of every day.
If Mom could leave her children with one parting thought, it would be: ”I cannot imagine how we would have ever gotten through this life with the challenges we had, without the guidance and understanding we have because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How thankful I am that faithful families in Utah sent their sons to serve missions in Hawaii, to find our family and share the joy of the gospel with us.”
After a nice day, and Family Home Evening with friends, and after eating a yummy bedtime brownie with Dad’s own cracked walnuts, Mom had a massive stroke. Just 16 hours later, on February 4, 2020, Mom reached through the veil to her husband’s waiting arms and entered the joy of all who keep their covenants. Broken hearts do mend.
Marilyn was preceded in death by Kenneth, her husband of 65 years, eldest son Leland, and youngest daughter, Cheryl. Surviving children are Bryan Hatcher (Susan), Kendalyn Hill (David), Lisa Banks, Melinda Faller (Marty), Carolyn Curti (Mark), and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at the Mueller Park 2nd Ward chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1800 S. 800 E. in Bountiful. Friends may visit with the family from 1:30-2:30 p.m. prior to the service. Arrangements entrusted to Lindquist’s Bountiful Mortuary.