Marilyn C. Cowell of Marana, Arizona and previously of Memphis, Missouri died peacefully at home on November 19, 2017. The daughter of Chandler Hezekiah and Velma Dietrich Bull, she was the second of twin daughters born on November 11, 1934 in Ottumwa, Iowa. Her mother died following complications of childbirth and Marilyn and her sister Carolyn along with their brother Stanley were reared on the family farm near Brock, Missouri by their grandparents Ernest and Myrtle Bull, aunt Abbie Bull, and father Chan and stepmother Olive Hocking Bull.
Marilyn attended rural school in Brock, Missouri and graduated from Memphis High School in 1952. She briefly attended Kirksville State Teachers College, pledged Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and then left college to marry Leon Clarence “Blackie” Cowell on December 27, 1953 at the Brock United Methodist Church.
Black was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1954 and following his service they commenced a farming partnership with Harley and Vera Kerr east of Memphis. Black and Marilyn eventually purchased the farm and enjoyed 42 years of working side by side as true partners in everything they did together. They were the proud parents of three children, Carolyn Ranee, Kena Kay and Tim Leon.
Black lost his battle to lymphoma in 1995 and Marilyn continued to manage the farming operation until she sold all but 10 acres in 2000. She envisioned a new home inspired by the craftsmen style home of her grandparents and commissioned her son Tim to design it and John Bunch to build it. A labor of love, the home was uniquely designed for her with special attention to space and detail to showcase her many family heirlooms, antiques and collections. Her love of gardening and all things outdoors led her to plant hundreds of trees, bulbs and flowers and painstakingly care for all the grounds herself. She was renowned for her endless energy, her love of family and her determined spirit. She met every adversity in life head on, and never shrunk from a challenge. When her home was destroyed by fire in 2013, she and her companion Paul Forrester relocated to Arizona. They built a beautiful home, filled their backyard with flowers and trees and enjoyed the past three years with the sun on their faces and wind in their sails.
She was preceded in death by her husband Leon; her infant sister Gwendolyn; and her brother Stanley Bull. She leaves to mourn her passing and celebrate her life her daughters, Ranee and husband Dennis Brayton, Kena and husband Bill Hirner, and son Tim and husband Mark Torres. Her grandchildren were her passion and include Stacy Brayton Powell and husband John, Abbi McClellan Branch and husband Patrick, Houston and Jennifer Brayton, John McClellan, Mikaela Hirner and fiancé Steve Garth, Joseph and Leah Hirner and Ben and Alissa Hirner and her great-grandchildren Samantha Powell, Morgan, Aiden and Dylan Branch, Logan and Lyla White, Cora, Joseph Jr. and Levi Hirner and Garrett Hirner.
Marilyn never met a stranger, loved her tribe fiercely, never gave in and never gave up. Her desire for cremation was handled by the Desert Sunset Funeral Home in Marana, Arizona. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the Scotland County Fire Department, P.O. Box 261, Memphis, MO. 63555.
She will be memorialized on December 9, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Memphis, Missouri and a celebration of her life at a reception following the service at the V.F.W. in Memphis, Missouri. Friends and family are invited to come and celebrate a remarkable woman and a life well lived.