Marilyn (Wangsness-Ernst) Kiefer (1934 - 2017)

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Marilyn Kiefer passed away, at the Juneau Pioneer Home, in the early morning of July 31, surrounded by her daughters and their spouses. She died as a result of complications from Alzheimer's disease. She was in the tender care of the loving staff at the Juneau Pioneer Home.
Marilyn was born on July 21, 1934, on a country farm near Eyota, Minnesota; ninth out of 10 children. She attended a 2 room schoolhouse in Viola, MN and later on school in Eyota. Her family were tenant farmers and moved from farm to farm when she was a child. Eventually Marilyn, along with her family moved to Rochester, MN in 1950.
Marilyn graduated high school in Rochester in 1952. She was active in 4H. She loved the outdoors and was a great help to her mom in the kitchen. While attending Rochester Junior College, she met Richard Kiefer, who was freshly out of service in Korea with the U.S. Navy.
Marilyn and Richard married in 1955 and started a family. Marilyn and Rick moved from Rochester, MN, to Albuquerque, NM, to Seattle, WA and eventually making their way to Juneau, AK in 1971.
Marilyn worked around the medical field all her life. From her time at the diet kitchen at the Mayo Clinic, to working at a doctor's office in Albuquerque and Vashon Island, to Director of Medical Records at Bartlett Memorial Hospital in Juneau, Marilyn was the consummate caregiver.
Marilyn's joy in life was her family. Marilyn was the primary caregiver of her husband who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for over 30 years, until his death in 2005. She loved her many siblings beyond measure. She deeply cherished her three children and their spouses. She unapologetically loved and spoiled her two grandchildren. Seeing her three great grandchildren brought big smiles. Marilyn was a joyful Christian. Her love was a direct result of her love for Christ. Up until Alzheimer's took her from us, Marilyn read the Bible daily and faithfully journaled her thoughts and prayers. Marilyn had many friends, associates, and outlaws she considered part of her extended family.
Marilyn is survived by her brothers Darry Ernst of Voorhees, NJ, Burt Ernst of Deer Park, WA and her sister-in-law, Midge Ernst (Layton) of Eyota, MN; Son, Scott (Sherry Simpson) of Mimbres, NM; daughter Kim (Pat McLear) of Juneau, and daughter Kari (Pat Monagle) of Juneau; granddaughter Katie Polis (Matt) of Clarkston, WA and their children: Maximilian, Carmela and Felicity; grandson Travis Monagle of Seattle, WA.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents, Lloyd and Christine Wangsness-Ernst; husband, Rick Kiefer (May 28, 2005); brothers and sisters-in-law, Raymond (Dora Hair) Ernst, Dr. Leonard (Eleanor Madsen) Ernst, Dr. Robert Ernst, and Layton Ernst; sisters and brothers-in-law, Florence Lee (Ernst), Delores Grieff (John), Arleen Whitcomb (Walt), sister-in-laws Annie Ernst, and Nona Ernst.
A celebration of her life will be held at the Shrine of St. Therese at 1:00 pm on Friday, August 25. Internment of Marilyn's (and husband Rick's) ashes at the Shrine Columbarium will follow the memorial service (depending on the weather you may wish to bring an umbrella). A reception will be held at the Shrine Lodge for all who can stay and share stories.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Alzheimer's Resources of Alaska: 3225 Hospital Dr. Suite 101 Juneau, AK 99801; or to the Pioneer Home Foundation: PO Box 34341 Juneau, AK 99803.
Published in The Juneau Empire from Aug. 8 to Sept. 9, 2017