Margery Mae Oaklief
83, died February 4, 2021 at Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, Kansas. Born December 2, 1937 in Uhrichsville, Ohio. She was the daughter of the late Woy and Opal Mizer. Marge graduated from Stone Creek High School in Stone Creek and the Ohio State University in Columbus with an undergraduate degree in Home Economics and Nutrition. Marge met her husband Charles (Chuck) Oaklief at Ohio State where they both found their love for sailing after their second date. Eighteen months later, she married Chuck and sailing became her passion and a life-long pursuit for the couple. Marge began her teaching career in 1955 at the public schools in Greenfield, Ohio. She was a dedicated educator and taught middle school and high school students before relocating with Chuck to Worthington Hills, Ohio and then to Manhattan, Kansas. She was also a partner in her husband's healthcare consulting firm and helped thousands of administrators pass their national board examination to obtain their state and national certifications. While in Manhattan, she earned her masters degree in Sociology and PhD in Adult and Continuing Education at Kansas State University. Marge was named a professor in the department through which she earned her PhD where she taught for more than 20 years. Marge was a member of Phi Upsilon Omicron Honorary and active in various university student and professional organizations. Marge had an insatiable passion for adventure and loved being out on the water. In 1978, she launched a sailing course for KSU. The program blossomed with Marge and her sons, Jeff and Greg, teaching sailing, wind surfing, and canoeing at the universities facility on Tuttle Creek lake. These classes were very popular with over 100 students earning course credit each semester. Marge and Chuck sailed from Seattle, Washington toward Alaska more than 20 times. In 1997, on their road trip to Seattle, the Oakliefs were in a tragic automobile accident near Rock Springs, Wyoming. Marge was airlifted to Salt Lake Research Hospitals in Utah where she stayed for five months. She returned home as a C5-6 quadriplegic. Marge adapted, and her zest for life inspired her to continue exploring the world, direct new programs and remain socially active for 25 years. She experienced more of the world with her disabilities than many do in a lifetime. Marge was known for her smile, laughter, and her complete acceptance of people at face value. Every person who met her loved her, according to her best friend, Jane Mullen. Before she spoke a word, people were attached to her bright spirit. During one of her sailing trips toward Alaska, Canadian border patrol officials were so inspired by her that the entire staff greeted her with a formal presentation of a prestigious Medal of Recognition which is reserved exclusively for long standing customs and law enforcement officials. She is the only non-Canadian to receive the award. Life required many adaptations back in Manhattan. In-home care services could not provide the level of services needed for her condition. So, Marge and friend, Susan Watt, developed the Morning Girl caregiver program. To date, more than 250 students seeking pre-health degrees at K-State have gained real-world experiences not available through traditional educational programs. These women, dubbed "The Morning Girls", became a part of Marge's family. Over the years, 25 morning girls accompanied Marge and Chuck on their Alaskan sailing expeditions.
Marge was preceded in death by her parents; in-laws; brother, Glenn W. Mizer of Mineral City, Ohio and sister, Jean Mizer Mathews of Hunting Valley, Ohio. She is survived by her husband, Chuck; her sons Jeff Oaklief and his wife, Julie Bisson of Seattle, Washington, Gregory Oaklief and wife, Sheila Hayter of Golden, Colorado, and five grandchildren: Jonah Oaklief of Pullman, Washington, Jade Oaklief of Seattle, Washington, Megan Oaklief of Bozeman, Montana, Brennan Oaklief of Fort Collins, Colorado, and Kian Oaklief of Golden, Colorado.
Due to limitations of the current pandemic, celebrations of Marge's life will be held in Manhattan and Ohio later this year. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to OCCK Disability and Assistive Services in care of:
Yorgensen-Melon Funeral Home, (785) 539-7481
Published in The Times Reporter on Feb. 26, 2021.