Marilyn Jean (Williams) Crosley passed into the Lord’s presence July 24, surrounded by her family. Marilyn packed so much life into her 90 years on this earth that it sometimes is difficult to comprehend.
She was born April 5, 1932 to Ralph and Joy (Anson) Williams. She represented the 6th generation of the Williams Family to live on her cherished family farm which is celebrating its Bicentennial this year. She participated in a ceremony honoring milestone farms at the Indiana Statehouse on April 1, 2022, and with a family celebration July 15.
Marilyn was a lifelong member of the Pendleton First United Methodist Church serving as Sunday School Superintendent.
She graduated as Valedictorian of the Pendleton High School class of 1950 where she was her class President for three years and member of Band, Chorus, Operetta, Dramatic Club, Yearbook staff, 4H, Cheerleader, and Student Council. She went on to Indiana University, graduating in 1954, where she excelled as a member of Mortar Board and as President of her Chi Omega Sorority. She received her Masters Degree in Elementary Education from Ball State University.
While at Pendleton High School she met the love of her life, James Crosley, to whom she was married for over 68 years.
Marilyn spent 29 years as a teacher at Pendleton Elementary School. During her last years of teaching she had the idea of creating an outdoor lab, which would combine her love of gardening with her passion of teaching young people. She wrote a grant which was approved and in 1993, the Pendleton Elementary Outdoor Lab was born, a year after her “retirement”.
For the next 29 years, Marilyn taught students in grades one through six about planting flowers from seedlings in a greenhouse, and in outdoor planting beds. She also established gourd and grape arbors and various gardens around the school grounds. Around 850 students each year gained experience in working in dirt and growing things. In May of 1999, the school named the lab the “Marilyn Crosley Outdoor Lab”. In 2003, the Outdoor Lab was voted best outdoor classroom by the Indiana Tree Farm Committee. In 2019, Fox 59 News named her the Community Hospital Hero of the Month and did a television interview with her at the school.
Marilyn’s family is grateful to the countless volunteers who helped her with her outdoor lab endeavors over all the years. Two of her daughters now carry on her work in the Lab.
Marilyn created the Junior Garden Club where students could continue learning about plants outside of school hours, and established “Native American Days” which celebrated the heritage of Indiana’s indigenous peoples complete with a life-sized tepee erected on the school grounds each year. She was active in the Science Fair at Pendleton Elementary and for many years served as a judge.
Marilyn loved flowers and vegetable gardening all her life. She achieved the designation of Master Gardener and was a member of the Madison County Master Gardener Club and the Pendleton Garden Club. She was a member and past President of the Madison County Retired Teachers Association and a member of Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority.
For many years, Jim and Marilyn enjoyed square dancing and round dancing and made great lifelong friendships through this hobby. They enjoyed camping at many of Indiana’s State Parks but especially at Dale Hollow Lake, where many summer vacations were spent camping and boating with family and friends. Stories are still told of adventures at Dale Hollow!
Another cherished activity for Marilyn and Jim has been Pendleton Heights athletics. All sports, boys and girls. Home and away games, there they were! It is difficult to imagine more dedicated high school sports fans than the two of them. In 2021, Pendleton Heights presented Marilyn and Jim with their “We Are One Award” which recognizes contributions of individuals in making the community a better place to live.
Family was everything to Marilyn. She is survived by her husband Jim, and by her four children: Greg(Diane)Crosley, Pam(Steve)Schug, Chris(Jack) Wilson, and Lori(Todd)Anson. Twelve grandchildren survive: Brooke(Scott) Crosley Zimmer, Bridgett(Seth) Wynkoop, Caitlin Crosley, Ben(Dawn Bales)Schug, Jennifer Black, Scot(Sarah)Young, Sindi(Aaron) Edelstein, Natalie (Lucas)DeShong, Karli(Kyle)Dishman, Kyle(Angie)Wilson, Jennifer(Brent) Schnepp, and Kasi(Brandon)Bolander. Marilyn and Jim have 23 great-grandchildren: Ethan Young, Gavin Schug, Lillian Young, Marah Schug, Mallory Schug, Emma Pierce, Lincoln DeShong, Trace Dishman, Connor Wynkoop, Riley Schnepp, Brailynn Wilson, Isla Dishman, Mila DeShong, Rosemary Black, Harper Schnepp, Liam Wynkoop, Briella Wilson, Laine Schnepp, Paul Black, Hannah Edelstein, Byron Wilson, Harvey Young, and Amara Bolander.
Countless hours have been spent watching these grandchildren and great-grandchildren enjoy all manner of team sports activities and swimming fun in their backyard pool.
Marilyn also enjoyed the love of many nieces and nephews and extended family, some of which gather each year to celebrate “Crosley Christmas” in the Pendleton Elementary gym.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Joy Williams, step-father Melvin Henderson, sister and brother-in-law Sue Williams Wood and Ron Wood, niece Page Wood, and brother-in-law Gene Gibson.
The family would like to thank a number of caregivers to Marilyn over the past month who extended such loving kindness: Dr. Gary Wright, Dr. Mares, PA Brandon, hospice nurse Kelly, Home Instead friends Joe, Kate, and Mary Lou, and the caregivers at Rawlins House.
A Memorial Service will be held on Sunday, July 31, 2022 in the Pendleton Elementary School gymnasium at 2:00 pm. Pastor John Groves will be officiating.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the South Madison Community Foundation for the “Jim and Marilyn Crosley Scholarship Fund.”
You may post online condolences at www.wilsonstpierre.com.