The Roaring Twenties were roaring, Warren Harding was President, the Readers Digest was first published, Eskimo Pies were patented, ice boxes were common in all kitchens, automobiles were becoming a household item and most importantly, Marjorie Emma Jenetzky Stauffer was born on January 22, 1922 on a farmstead in Sedgwick County, Kansas to parents Walter and Margaret (Matie) Johnson Jenetzky.
She passed away on January 11, 2022 at The Cedars Assisted Living Complex. She was 11 days shy of her 100th birthday. During her almost 100 years, she lived through another world war, several ferocious conflicts and smaller ones that continue today. She had survived flu epidemics, smallpox outbreaks, polio outbreaks and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marge grew up on several different farms in southern Sedgwick and northern Sumner Counties. Born without a socket in her left hip, she spent her early toddler years in casts before being able to walk. She loved spending time outdoors and was very excited when her dad finally said she was old enough to help him out in the fields, much to her mother’s dismay.
Marge loved animals. One of her favorite stories is about bottle-feeding a lamb disowned by its mother. As an only child, that lamb became her everyday playmate. It had the privilege of living its entire life in the shed and yard. Mom recalls he liked to play rough especially when she wouldn’t give him grain while feeding the chickens. He wouldn’t let strangers through the yard gate. He would hit them hard with his head and sometimes knock them down if they didn’t see him coming. Besides the lamb, dogs always held a special place in her heart. They instinctively knew she was a good person and kind to animals.
When she was six years old, her family moved to Clearwater and she attended first and second grades there. Then they moved to a farm north of Clearwater and she attended the next five years at Weston School which was an eight-grade country school. She recalls that they were memorable years because she had a wonderful teacher that taught all eight grades. After moving again, she spent 8th grade at Peatone, a one room school.
Getting to school in rural Kansas required a little more than waiting for the bus. She walked 3 miles or more to school every day regardless of the weather and shared of one particularly hard winter. “During the winter when I was in the eighth grade, we had a very large snow storm that drifted all the roads shut. We lived on an east and west road therefore it was drifted shut. It was so deep that not even the horses could get through. Also, it was very cold, so my Dad hooked up the horses to a wagon and put some straw in the bottom of the wagon to make it warmer. Two neighbor families lived east of us. Their children walked as far as our house, came in to get warm and then Dad put us all in the wagon and took us through the fields, taking down fences to get through, for about ¾ of a mile west, picking up one more child on the way. We couldn’t get any farther with the team and wagon because of a hedge row, so then we all got out and walked another ½ mile to the school house. By then we were all cold and wet. The fire the teacher had going in the stove felt good and soon we were all warm and comfortable. The teacher had walked the same distance we had, leaving her car at the corner on the highway.” School was never cancelled.
She attended 4 years of high school at Viola, graduating in 1940. During her senior year, her parents changed farmsteads and to be able to graduate from Viola, she lived with the family that ran the Viola Telephone Central Office. As payment for living there, Mom often ran the switchboard. While at Viola, her family attended the United Presbyterian Church.
After graduation, Mom moved to Wichita to attend Wichita Business College. It was very exciting for her because it was so different from the little high school that she attended, and she loved it. After college she worked for the Western Newspaper Union. It was on one of the bus van trips from the farmstead back to Wichita that the bus was completely full but a dashing young man allowed her to sit on his lap. This man later became her husband of 65 years. She married Gail Edward Stauffer on February 10, 1946, while Gail was on leave from the Army Medical Corp. serving on a medical ship transporting wounded soldiers back to the states from action in WW II. They took up residence in Trenton, New Jersey near the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey, but just as soon as they arrived, Gail received word the war was drawing to a close and he was honorably discharged. They headed home to Wichita, where they lived from 1946-1997. In 1997 they moved to McPherson to be closer to family.
The happy couple were blessed with 2 children, James Ray & Patricia Lou. After both children were in school, she joined the PTA and soon became President. After members saw her dedication and passion for helping children, she was awarded a Life Membership in the PTA.
In 1966 she began working for the Coleman Co. She retired after 12 years & 7 mo.
Summer ball games, swim meets, and camping trips became the norm for the Stauffer family. When Jim and Pat had ball games on different nights, Marge and Gail split and then shared stories about the games after a rewarding ice cream cone. They continued going to softball games after Pat was married. Then came grandchildren! Same pattern. They made as many trips to McPherson and Kansas City area to watch soccer, track meets, tennis, softball and whatever the grandchildren were participating in. Gail and Marge also participated in worship and activities with the First Church of the Brethren.
In 1988, Gail retired, they bought a motor home and off they went. They made many wonderful travel memories to later recall. Both volunteered for the American Red Cross as drivers to deliver blood supplies across Kansas.
Family support was very important to Marge. During the last 15-20 years or more she would call every family member on their birthday or anniversary without fail. A testament to her love of family.
She was preceded in death by her parents and husband of 65 years, Gail.
She is survived by her two children, James (Diane) Stauffer and Patricia (Ward) Nippert; four grandchildren, Dr. Jesse (Anna) Nippert, Matthew (Molly) Stauffer, Heather (Dan) Dannahower, and Krissa (David) Hollinger; and eight great-grandchildren, Kalea Nippert, Miah Dannahower, Kyra Nippert, William Dannahower, Lucia Nippert, Livia Nippert, Heidi Stauffer and Wyatt Stauffer.
A graveside service will be held at 10:00 AM, Saturday, January 22, 2022, at Conway Springs Cemetery in Conway Springs, KS. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 2:00 PM, Saturday, January 22, at McPherson Church of the Brethren, 200 N. Carrie Street, McPherson, KS 67460. To view a livestream broadcast of the service, please click on the following link: https://youtu.be/yn3Gn62WSR4
In honor of Marge and in lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been set up at the McPherson Church of the Brethren, where it will be used for youth activities. Donations may be sent in care of Stockham Family Funeral Home, 205 North Chestnut, McPherson, KS 67460.