Marilyn Elizabeth Birkenfeld, 86 of Nazareth, Texas, died peacefully in her home on Thursday, March 7, 2019. Mass of Christian Burial will be Monday, March 11, 2019, at 10 a.m. at Holy Family Catholic Church with Fr. Bhaskar Adusepalli and Deacon Bob Birkenfeld as celebrants. Burial will follow in Holy Family Cemetery under the direction of Colonial Funeral Home in Dimmitt. A vigil service will be held the prior evening on Sunday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. at Holy Family.
Marilyn was born Oct. 26, 1932, in Nazareth to Ed and Veronica (Huseman) Hoelting and graduated from Nazareth High School in 1949. She worked briefly for Albert and Virgie Gerber in their grocery store before she married Herman Birkenfeld on Feb. 14, 1950, in Nazareth. After a honeymoon trip to Olpe, Kansas, they settled on a quarter-section 7 miles northeast of Nazareth. Together, they farmed and ranched in that area as well as Union and San Miguel counties in New Mexico. Marilyn, who jokingly said she married Herman because he had 18 hens who would lay 20 eggs a day, took on personal oversight for the chicken flock and their dairy, which they operated until January 1985. She sold eggs for many years to many in Nazareth and Tulia.
Theirs was a partnership forged in the strength of being true complements and equals. As an integral aspect of and asset to the Birkenfeld Outfit’s success, Marilyn worked side-by-side with Herman, their children, and eventually their grandchildren. There wasn’t a job she couldn’t or didn’t do, and always according to her “if it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing right” mantra.
In addition to her legendary summer garden and home-cooked meals delivered even to the fields during harvest time, Marilyn was renowned for her letters and general writing ability as well as her uncanny recall of dates, facts, and history. Long before the internet age and advent of social media, she perfected the art of keeping up with and caring about people, both local and across the world. Not being overly fond of modern communication technology, she strongly preferred hand-written letters over emails, and generations have been touched and remain connected because of her treasured correspondence.
A student of life and a strong proponent of education, Marilyn also was an avid reader. In addition to purchasing countless books for her children and grandchildren, she subscribed to a rich variety of catalogs and periodicals, including many a “ginchy” magazine. The consummate advocate and booster, she made certain none missed any opportunity to participate, partake, and contribute, with the unspoken guarantee of her complete and unfailing support.
Marilyn was a lifelong member of Holy Family Catholic Church, where she served as a greeter and helped staff the religious articles bookstore. She also taught catechism classes and served as a driver for the parish’s Meals on Wheels program. She was a member of the Christian Mothers’ Society and the American Legion Auxiliary. Among other leadership milestones, she played an instrumental role in bringing the Nazareth Veterans’ Memorial to the Francis Wilhelm American Legion Post, dedicated on Labor Day 2007.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her parents; her step-mother, Sylvia (Dirks) Hoelting; and her husband. Survivors include four daughters and sons-in-law, Darlene (Marvin) Schulte of Nazareth, Karen Peddy of Canyon, Gail (David) Hooks of Amarillo, and Shana (Stewart) Hutchins of College Station; eight sons and daughters-in-law, Kent (Teresa) of Canyon, Keith (Kim), Bob (Theresa), Clyde (Jeanie), Darryl (Joann), Greg (Glenda), and Alan (Heather) of Nazareth and Joel of San Antonio; three sisters and brothers-in-law, Kathleen Mattingly of Woodbine, Iowa, Edna (Rodger) Schilling of Dimmitt, and Cince (Kenny) Schulte of Nazareth; three brothers and sisters-in-law, Jim (Sandee) Hoelting, Tom (Rita) Hoelting, and Bill (Bernita) Hoelting of Nazareth; 25 grandchildren; 37 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorials may be made to the Holy Family Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 100, Nazareth, TX 79063 or to Area Community Hospice, 1403 Olton Rd., Plainview, TX 79072.