ELLINWOOD — Marie Esther (Dunekack) Isern passed away on Jan. 13, 2017, at Country Place Senior Living in Ellinwood. Marie was born on Dec. 29, 1919, the daughter of William and Meta Dunekack, of Clarence Township, western Barton County. She grew up in modest circumstances on the family farm, in a rural neighborhood composed of German farmers and centered on a country church, St. Paul’s Lutheran. She had two older siblings, Wilbur and Norma, and a younger brother, Vernon, all of of whom preceded her in death.
Mrs. Isern often spoke of two developments as making key differences in her life. The first was the opportunity, coming out of a country school setting, to attend high school in Great Bend, the county seat. This was possible, she credited, because of the kindness and support of her elder sister Norma and her husband, Edwin Briel, with whom she lived while earning her high school diploma. Education allowed her to find employment in the advertising department of the Great Bend Tribune.
The second turning point was, of course, her introduction, at a district church function, to Orville H. A. Isern, a young farmer from northeast of Ellinwood. They were married at St. Paul’s on Dec. 8, 1940. Their active years of married life were spent on the Isern farm, where they raised three sons, Stan, who continues farming the home place; David, a business executive who preceded his mother in death; and Tom, a History professor in North Dakota. Mrs. Isern, who would have relished the opportunity for higher education, never had the opportunity herself, but strongly supported her three boys as they completed their college degrees.
Mrs. Isern, once the boys were all married, moved into Ellinwood with her husband Orville. They not only entered fully into the social life of the town but also enjoyed traveling the world, making trips to the Holy Land, Europe, the Caribbean, and other destinations.
Following the passing of her husband in 1982, Mrs. Isern remained active and visible in the town. Of her many community interests, she most cherished her associations and activities in St. John’s Lutheran Church of Ellinwood. There, for decades, she taught Sunday School classes and Menninger Bible studies. She was active in the church’s women’s organizations, including the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, and was a mainstay of congregational gatherings and projects.
In addition, especially following retirement from the farm to town, Mrs. Isern took an active role in community organizations, such as the Ellinwood Garden Club and the Ellinwood Heritage Club. She was prominent among the founders and supporters of the latter organization and enjoyed participating in its potlucks. She delighted in gathering with friends from town and country to play card games ranging from traditional German favorites such as pitch and sheepshead to bridge--being a member of several bridge clubs--and introduced her grandchildren to competitive card-playing. Her grandchildren remember her as an adventurous grandmother who encouraged them to live a zestful life. They still enter into friendly competition to recreate their grandmother’s favorite recipes.
Mrs. Isern is survived by her eldest son, Stan, and daughter-in-law Marla, of Ellinwood; her youngest son Tom, and daughter-in-law Suzzanne Kelley, of West Fargo, N.D.; and her daughter-in-law Becky Isern, of Boise, Idaho; by grandchildren (with spouses) Jennifer (husband Ted Harris), of Bellevue, Wash., James, of Boise, Idaho, Shane (wife Nickie), of Ellinwood, Mindy (husband Scott Cure), of Hanston, Mariah (husband Dustin Lee), of Hanston, Emily (husband Stephen Holland), of Wilson, Okla., and Elizabeth (husband Steve Carlton), of Yukon, Okla.; and by great-grandchildren Brooklynn, Caleb, Cree, Domonic, Drew, Jordy, Kileigh, Logan, Meg, Odessa, Pegan, Sadie, Tanner, and Zoey.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday at St. John Lutheran Church with Pastor Merlyn Lohrke, Pastor Tom Thierfelder, and Vicar Kenton Abbott officiating. Burial will follow at Lakin-Comanche District Cemetery. Visitation will be from 1-8 p.m., with family present from 6-8 p.m., today at Minnis Chapel in Ellinwood. Memorials are suggested to St. John’s Lutheran Church, of Ellinwood; the Ellinwood Heritage Club; or the Ellinwood Garden Club in care of the funeral home.
Funeral arrangements provided by
P.O. Box 246
Ellinwood, KS 67526
Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, Jan. 17, 2017