Marjorie (Marj) Newell started her journey on June 20, 1930. Her parents, Frank and Flo Geller, were former teachers who homesteaded a ranch near Dalton, Nebraska. Marj was the youngest of five siblings: Lucille, Roger, Robert, Charles and herself. Only Robert Geller of Fort Collins, Colorado survives.
Marj rode a horse to country school for eight years. You could say that she was committed to education at an early age. She had to room and board in Bridgeport, Nebraska in order to attend high school.
Marj attended Hastings College in Hasting, Nebraska. In the summer of 1950, Marj was one of twenty-six college students who worked at a mental hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This is where she met Ken Newell, a first-year theological seminary student. She and Ken were married one year later when Marj graduated.
1954 was a big year. Ken graduated and assumed pastoral duties at the Presbyterian Church in Aztec, New Mexico and the first of their four children was born. They served churches in Miami; Oklahoma; Flandreau and Pierre, South Dakota; Skagway; St. Louis and in western Nebraska and eastern Colorado.
Marj taught school in several locations and she was a favorite teacher of Pierre Junior High students. In Skagway, she excelled in running her unique store, the Brass Pic. Her store was written up in Los Angeles and New York newspapers. One day she entertained Esther Williams and June Allison when they spent a few hours purchasing souvenirs in her little store (later Marj was informed who her visitors were). College students in Skagway loved Marj and sent tour customers to her store.
Marj was a fun-loving, daring and adventurous person. Small and large children enjoyed her unfaltering attention and escapades. Her daughter-in-laws wondered what she and their children would do next. Marj was one who believed political parties were essential for democracy. She advocated women’s rights and instilled confidence in students of all ages. Marj sympathized for those who were looked down upon. Challenges inspired her.
Marj was a caring wife and mother and she especially liked to spend time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Alzheimer’s concluded this part of Marj’s life on March 5, 2017. Survivors are her husband of sixty-six years, Pastor Ken Newell, their children: Jim (fiancé Kerry) Lakewood, Colorado, Dan (Diane) Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Krysia (Chris) Elgin, SC and David (Theresa) Omaha, Nebraska, fourteen grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was celebrated on Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 2 p.m. at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 3801 East 26th Street, Sioux Falls. The family requests no flowers. A memorial fund in Marj’s name is being established for the Dow Rummel Village Alzheimer’s Music Program, 1321 West Dow Rummel Street, Sioux Falls, SD, 57104.
As we close this chapter of life, the Newell family wishes to express our appreciation and love to the staff of Dow Rummel Village. Marj brought us all together to be her family. www.heritagesfsd.com.