WINDSOR, Vt. – Marilynn Louise (Kempsell) Chlebak, having outfoxed dementia for several years, died in her sleep June 2, 2020 at Cedar Hill Memory Care Center in Windsor, Vt. Born to Marion L. Kempsell and George J. Kempsell, she began life Aug. 25,1936 in Syracuse, N.Y. She and her older brother George Jr. moved with their father to Chicago where she attended Lake Forest College. In French class, she met George F. Chlebak. A few years later, he proposed. Family lore recounts that future mother-in-law Elizabeth Chlebak had two stipulations for Marilynn: that she converts from Christian Science to Catholicism and that she learns to cook Slovak food. Marilynn and George married June 21, 1958.
They traveled to Las Vegas for George’s graduate studies. After a brief return to Chicago and the birth James S., the young family settled in Salina, Kan., where Marilynn gave birth John V. She worked as a homemaker and part-time teacher until the boys were in school.
As an English teacher in junior high and at Salina Central High School, she advocated for equity by supporting young people to pursue their own educational goals. She pursued graduate studies in creative writing at Wichita State University and master’s degree in English from the University of Kansas.
She and George moved to Batesville, Ariz., in the ’80s. Marilynn continued in public education as gifted and talented coordinator in Newport, Ariz. She became the director of Apple Project, the Upward Bound program at Lyon College. A talented organizer and gifted grant writer, she supported generations of students.
Marilynn volunteered at the Old Independence Regional Museum; served on the board of the Independence County Historical Society; was on the editorial committee for the Independence County Chronicle; and was the treasurer of the Batesville Symphony League. In 2004, Lyon College honored her with their Friends of Education award.
Marilynn is preceded in death by her husband of 60 years, parents, a brother, stepmother Jeanette Kempsell and nephew George J. Kempsell. She is survived by her two sons; six grandchildren Collin, Chase, Lise, Nicolas, Caleb, and Erin; six great-grandchildren Harvey, Sullivan, Miller, Hayes, Camden, and Monroe; nieces Carolyn Borta and Pattie Kay Andrews; and three nephews Scott, Greg, and Christopher Jungles.
A memorial dinner is planned for Aug. 22, 2020 at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock. For more information, please contact John V. Chlebak at 972-333-8576.