Marilyn Esther (Bowman) Richards traded in her old body for a new one when she journeyed from this earth peacefully while sleeping at her granddaughter’s home on October14, 2022.
Marilyn was born to Esther and John Ralph Bowman in Chicago on July 16, 1932, the middle child with two brothers, Earl and Ray. When she was in kindergarten, the family moved to Michigan where she remained until the age of 18. For two years she attended college at Manchester University in Indiana. Manchester is associated with the Church of the Brethren, and Marilyn’s family had deep roots in the Church of the Brethren churches and national services. While in college, Marilyn attended classes in business and home economics, and she met Donald Richards. Don was in alternate service in lieu of being an active member of the military. At Don’s request, Marilyn moved to Maryland where they could develop their relationship and Don could work as a milk tester for a dairy farm. Following that, the couple moved to Michigan and were married in November of 1954. They returned to Maryland where their ﬁrst three children were born, Joe, Jeanne, and Jerry. They moved to Indiana in the mid-1960s so Don could return to college and pursue a career in the ministry. They had child number four, June, born eight years to the day after Jerry. They stayed in Indiana until Don ﬁnished college, then they moved to the Chicago area where Don attended Seminary and child number ﬁve was born, Janet. They stayed in the Chicago area until the early 1970s when they moved to Des Moines. The couple ended up divorcing but remained close because of the proximity to each other and to their children. In later years, Don remarried and moved to Florida.
Marilyn was an active member of Stover Memorial Church of the Brethren in Des Moines from the time the family moved until she was no longer able to serve. She served in several capacities, including secretary, board member, custodian, and deacon, always making sure there was coffee and treats available on Sunday mornings. She was also a member of the woman’s sew-ciety, a group that met periodically in the church for fellowship and to create lap quilts to donate to nursing homes and other local organizations.
Marilyn worked in different positions in Des Moines and was employed at McDonald’s for 14 years while she finished raising her children. Prior to her retirement, she worked for Meredith Corporation in Des Moines as a data entry clerk. Following retirement, she enjoyed taking day trips with friends and groups of other seniors in the Des Moines area. She went to Jamaica with her sister-in-law Phyllis and traveled to various places with family including New York City, Colorado, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee and Illinois.
She left an indelible mark on her family as the matriarch, leading all with a servant heart and a Christ-like example, taking time to host granddaughter sleepovers at her house (don’t remember many grandson sleepovers…?!) hosting countless family holiday celebrations, taking grandchildren to dinner and a movie to celebrate their birthdays, cooking meals, “ho-ho cakes” and red velvet cake by request for any birthday, visiting grandchildren to help with their children and household chores. And making animal-shaped pancakes. By her own assertion, her greatest achievement was her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her descendants will be hard-pressed to follow her example of love and servanthood. In her last act of service, she donated her body to Des Moines University for scientific research.
A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made
to DMARC, DMARC Food Pantry, or Supplemental Foods of Iowa.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents and her older brother, Earl. Those left to honor her memory and cherish her legacy include her brother Ray, his wife Ginny,
their children Lynne and Lori, and their families; a nephew, Gary Bowman; her son
Joe, his wife Julie, daughter Jeanne and husband Jose’, son Jerry and his wife Terri,
daughter June and her husband Joe, and daughter Janet; 17 grandchildren and 26
great-grandchildren. We will love you always Mom, Grandma Marilyn/Nonni Marilyn/Grandma Bubbles.