Marlene Dykes

Memorial services for 88-year old Marlene Dykes are Sat, August 13, 2022, at 10:00 at the Morse Memorial Methodist Church in Rushville, NE. 

A memorial has been established and donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366, Gordon, NE 69343.

Online condolences may be left at

Marlene Mae DeWitt Dykes was born April 12, 1934, the first of 8 children of Russell and Ghita DeWitt. She loved being part of a large family and counted her sisters as her best friends. 

Marlene was a studious child and began reading the daily paper at a young age. In high school, she was involved in band, choir, attended the Methodist church, was a Job’s Daughters Honored Queen and worked. 

Marlene graduated as salutatorian of her class in 1952 with the plan of becoming a teacher. She attended Chadron State College, but left to marry Max H Dykes on August 16, 1953. 

Marlene assumed she would be a ranch wife and since she and Max were both family-oriented, they not surprisingly raised a large family of their own. Their first child was born in 1954 and over the next ten years they added 5 more. 

Those ten years saw many changes with Max becoming a teacher and the family moving to various towns. Marlene was, out of necessity, at this time a stay-at-home Mom. The family moved to Ogallala, NE, in 1966 when Max took a job as a history teacher and wrestling coach. 

In 1967, Marlene began teaching in rural schools in the Ogallala area. Her first school had an outhouse and a hand pump for water, but she didn’t care – she was teaching again. 

Marlene considered teaching a near-sacred calling and strove to improve her methods, even recognizing her own blind spots and altering things accordingly.  

Max and Marlene spent the next several years raising their children, working full time, continuing their education, and reading the paper to keep up on current events. Both were musical and the family often sang during road trips when 8 people and a dog in an Impala became overwhelming. 

Their home was chaotic but friendly. Drop-in guests were welcome and more kids were no problem. Many nieces and nephews as well as their children’s friends found a second home at Marlene’s house, where she hosted DeWitt Thanksgivings with all her siblings and their families. 

Marlene was always a joiner and became involved with the church as well as 4H and Delta Kappa Gamma. She attended her kids’ activities including sports, concerts and plays. 

Marlene became a grandma in 1978 and, as with her own children, she was involved and active in the lives of her grandkids. She was gifted with 10 of them over an 18-year period. 

She attended horse shows, ball games, and museums or just drew pictures or played with stuffed animals according to each kid’s interest. Her grandkids fondly remember staying with her while attending volleyball camps or taking swimming lessons and having peaches and cream for breakfast. 

In 1981, Marlene achieved her goal and became a college graduate – celebrating with 3 grandkids in tow. Max and Marlene returned to their hometown of Rushville in 2002, in part to care for Max’s mother Yvonne. 

This was a bittersweet decision for Marlene as she had to leave many friends in Ogallala and would retire from teaching. She had begun singing with Sweet Adelines, a barbershop group, putting a new spin on that old song because our Mama sang bass. She loved the challenge of singing acapella harmony as well as the competitions. 

As usual, Marlene looked to the bright side of renewing friendships with old classmates and spending more time with her siblings. She joined the Legion Auxiliary and the United Methodist Women while volunteering at the golf course, library and museum. 

Max’s death in 2007 saw Marlene living alone for the first time in her life. This was a lonely adjustment for her, but she began attending adult Sunday school, bible study, and visiting area nursing homes. 

She continued to care for her cats and spend time with family and, of course, read. Marlene was thrilled when Gordon Elementary asked her to be a paraprofessional for one student. She found this new perspective on teaching interesting and rewarding. She worked there for 4 more years with many students and one final year at Rushville Elementary before retiring again. 

Though plagued with physical ailments in her later years, Marlene continued to volunteer and spend time with family which by now included great-grandchildren. She read a dozen books a week until her vision failed. 

Marlene had to be in nursing homes for the last couple years of her life, but the cornerstones remained the same: faith, family and learning. 

Marlene was preceded in death by her parents Russell and Ghita DeWitt, her in-laws John and Yvonne Dykes, her husband Max, her daughter Deb Dawson, siblings Sarah Weidner, Eleanor Vendetti, and Chuck DeWitt. Sister-in-law Maxine Diercks and brothers-in-law Bill Diercks, Calvin Coomes, Elton Weidner, Pat Vendetti and Dave Hatch. 

Those left to mourn her passing are her children: John Dykes of Chadron, NE, Wendy (Doug)Lee of Lawton IA, Jim Dykes of Rushville, Tom (Mary) Dykes of Springfield MO, Ghita Dykes of Valentine NE and son-in-law Larry Dawson of Kilgore, NE Grandchildren: Josh (Hula) Lee, Matt (Cassie) Lee, Jessica (Andy) Coyle, Jennifer (Blake) Reynolds, Andy (Kasey) Dawson, Kayla (Kyle) Helms, Erin (Chris) Petersen, Christian, Bennett and Devin Dykes.  

Also mourning are Great-grandchildren: Shyanne, Sydnee and Syerra Dawson, Brooklyn Coyle, Lilly and Abby Helms, Brody and Rigley Petersen, Henry and Brody Lee, Brielle Reynolds, Bella and Charlotte Dykes and Nora Olson. Siblings Sally Hatch, Judy (Ron) Dorsey, Colleen (Rob) Harvey, and Dick (Chris) DeWitt. Sisters-in-law Bonnie DeWitt and Connie Coomes, and cousin/friend Evelyn Crane. 

Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home of Gordon is in charge of arrangements for Marlene Dykes.