Marilyn E. Nelson Donahue, nee Struthers, 87, of Columbus, Ohio and Collinsville, Ill., born April 6, 1928, in Litchfield, Ill., passed away suddenly and peacefully on Dec. 1, 2015. Her last hours were with friends and family.
The older of two children born to John and Irma, nee Deibert, Struthers of Gillespie, Ill., Marilyn was the daughter and granddaughter of Illinois coal miners. In the 1940s she attended McKendree College, met and married her first husband, and had two children. After divorcing, she graduated Southern Illinois University with a bachelor's degree, then attended Washington University in St Louis where she earned a master's degree in social work.
Beginning in the 1960s and throughout her professional career, Marilyn worked in the field of social work, specializing in child welfare and mental health. She worked for Illinois DCFS, starting in East St Louis and later moving to Champaign and Chicago, where she directed the Cook County child abuse team. In the 1980s she moved to Columbus, Ohio, and later retired as associate director of North Central Mental Health Center. She mentored many social workers and helped them to focus on the whole person and community.
For many years, her neighbors in Hardesty Village elected her as their association president. Marilyn enjoyed traveling, music, reading, and trading jokes. She was a compassionate, exuberant, energetic person who loved her family, friends, laughter, and living.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her husband, Jack M Donahue; and her beloved pug, Ben.
She is survived by her brother, Douglas (Coyla) Struthers; two children, Robert (Kathleen) Nelson, Jr., and Judith Nelson; two stepchildren, Vicki (Ray) Wheatley and Gail (Tim) Mayer; grandchildren, Elizabeth (Yohm) Peterson, Robert (Lindsey) Nelson, III, Reed Nelson, and Dane Nelson; three step grandchildren, Claire Wheatley, Kaitlyn Mayer and Nicholas Mayer; three great-grandchildren; four nieces; and many loving and devoted friends.
Special thanks to home health care workers Michelle Morris and Deanna Murray for their kind care during her final months.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Franklin County Children's Fund-Jack Donahue Scholarship, 855 West Mound Street, Columbus, Ohio, 43223; or Covenant House for homeless children (covenanthouse.org).
Funeral: A memorial service will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, at Irwin Chapel, 591 Glen Crossing Rd, Glen Carbon, Ill.
IRWIN CHAPEL, Glen Carbon, Ill.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Dec. 27, 2015