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Marilyn Ruth Gustafson - 80

5/17/1938 - 12/17/2018
Reno, Nevada

 Marilyn R. Gustafson

May 17, 1938 – December 17, 2018


Marilyn R. Gustafson, age 80, passed away on December 17, 2018, in Reno, Nevada, at Renown South Meadows Hospital surrounded by her loved ones. Marilyn was born in Princeton, Illinois, on May 17, 1938, to Rawley and Fern Gallentine. She was raised on a farm in rural Illinois until age 18 and attended Bowen and Manlius elementary schools and Walnut High School.  At Walnut High School, Marilyn was in the chorus and band and was an accompanist for the chorus.  She was a four year cheerleader and was awarded the Arion Award for Music.  She also was a majorette with the band and was awarded a four year scholarship to Western Illinois University where she graduated with a degree in Music Education in 1960.  Marilyn was a member of the Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority while attending Western.


While in high school, Marilyn met the love of her life, Donald Gustafson.  After dating through high school and college, they were married on June 26, 1960, in Walnut.  Don and Marilyn made their first home in Denver, Colorado, where their daughter, Dawn Marie, was born. They moved to Boulder, Colorado, where Don attended the University of Colorado. Their adventures then took them to Reno, Nevada in 1965 and their second daughter, Kimberley Kay, was born. They moved to Yerington, Nevada in 1966 and then to Butte, Montana, in 1971. They eventually moved back to Reno, Nevada, in 1975, and called Reno home ever since. 


Marilyn taught music in elementary schools for over 35 years and taught private piano lessons for 20 years.  Teaching music in the schools was very special to her and she always loved her work. Marilyn taught at Grace Warner and Caughlin Ranch Elementary Schools in Reno and retired in 1995. She was a chairman and member of WAAIME (Women’s Mining Association), a board member of Young Audiences of Northern Nevada, a member of the Montreux Women’s Golf Association and Lakeridge Tennis Club, where she played competitive tennis with many special friends.


Marilyn and Don loved traveling and went on many trips to foreign countries, including Europe, Morocco, Indonesia, Thailand, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Honduras and Canada.  She was a competitive bridge player and loved to play tennis, golf and sail with her family on Lake Tahoe and in the San Francisco Bay. Marilyn’s husband, children and grandchildren were always her first priority and she was always there for them. She attended all of her grandchildren’s sports activities and school programs and they were her pride and joy.


Marilyn is preceded in death by her husband, Donald, parents, Rawley and Fern Gallentine, brother, Arlyn Rawley and grandparents. She is survived by daughters, Dawn Welsh (Cary Welsh) from Reno and Kimberley Gustafson (Nic Capule) from Larkspur, CA, grandchildren, Connor and Amber Welsh from Reno, sister, Charlene Warr from Covina, CA, sister-in-law, Nancy Hopkins and brother-in-law, Dr. Jim Hopkins from Des Moines, IA, and several nieces and nephews.


Visitation will be held on Saturday, January 5, 2019 from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. at the Garland Funeral Home in Walnut. The funeral service will follow at 11:00 a.m. with the Reverend Brian Moore, pastor of the First Christian Church of Walnut, officiating. Burial will conclude at Walnut Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held in Reno, Nevada, at a later date.

In memory of Marilyn, gifts can be made to the Marilyn Gallentine Gustafson Music Scholarship fund at Western Illinois University.  Contributions can be mailed to:  WIU Foundation, 1 University Circle, Macomb, IL 61455 with a memo note of Marilyn Gustafson Scholarship.  Or, a donation may be made to the First Christian Church, 109 Red Oak Road, Walnut, IL, 61376.

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