Cover photo for Marilyn Kathleen Abney's Obituary
Marilyn Kathleen Abney Profile Photo

Marilyn Kathleen Abney

July 2, 1944 — July 2, 2024


Marilyn Kathleen Abney

Marilyn Abney of Haskell, Arkansas, peacefully passed at home surrounded by her four daughters in the early hours of her 80th birthday. Born on July 2, 1944, in Ely, Minnesota, to Robert and Kathleen Cowling Hill. Marilyn was cherished from the start, described by her brother Kenneth as the most beautiful baby he had ever seen. Raised in Bossier City, Louisiana, Marilyn spent idyllic summers with extended family on Fall Lake in Minnesota's Boundary Waters—a place that held enduring significance throughout her life.

Marilyn's childhood in Bossier City was filled with joyous moments, including her pride in being an “Original Fan” of Elvis, whom she first saw perform at the Louisiana Hayride in 1956. A graduate of Bossier High School's Bearkat Class of 1962, Marilyn held dear her years playing clarinet in the award-winning BHS Band. The band's memorable march on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1961 created bonds with her "Band Girls Plus One" that lasted over six decades, marked by daily messages of shared memories, prayers, and laughter.

Attending Louisiana Tech University, Marilyn became a proud sister of Sigma Kappa sorority and met her beloved husband, Keith Abney. Marilyn earned her Bachelor's Degree in 1966 and her Master's in Business Administration in 1968. They married and welcomed their daughters Kit (1966, Ruston), Ellen (1968, New Orleans), Karen (1971, Baton Rouge), and Meghann (1979, Houston), while Keith's career led them to various cities across the country. Marilyn had her own successful career working at Tinker Air Force Base, Mattel Toy Company, Odyssey Pharmaceuticals, and Steger Mukluks. In 1985, Marilyn and Keith proudly opened their first McDonald’s franchise in Houston, later owning restaurants in Blackwell, Oklahoma, and Little Rock, Arkansas. Following retirement in 1996, they returned to Bossier City before settling in Minnesota and finally relocating to Arkansas in 2015 to be close for family celebrations and enjoy Lake Ouachita again with their “Lake Family.”

Marilyn's devotion to her family was unwavering; she was married to Keith for 56 years before his death in 2021. She liked to say that she kept him calm, and he kept her fun. Anyone who met Marilyn knows she was quick to share about her daughters and grandchildren with endless pride. She was filled with a quiet determination and strength, known as sisu by her Finnish heritage. Marilyn found solace in her faith, active in church communities where she lived, most recently Holland Chapel Baptist Church, where she valued the love and support of her Women’s Sunday School Class.

Marilyn was welcomed Home by Keith, her parents Robert and Kathleen Hill, her grandson Noah Owens, and her brother-in-law Lt. Col. Brett Pope. What a beautiful birthday celebration it must have been! Judaism says that those who pass on their birthday, as Moses did, have completed a perfect circle of life, achieving the mission they were born to achieve. Marilyn leaves a legacy of kindness and love carried on by her daughters Kathleen Spelce (Allen), Ellen Shollmier (Dudley), Karen Clements, and Meghann Donaldson (Scott) and her grandchildren Zachary Spelce and Carson Spelce, Robert Andrew Holiman (Stormie) and Chloe Owens, Madison Clements (Reece), Tanner Clements (fiancé Madison), and Katie Clements, Sydney Donaldson (fiancé Carson) and William Donaldson. She is also survived by her brothers Kenneth (Patricia) Hill and Donald (Deborah) Hill, sister Judith Pope, numerous nieces and nephews, and her cherished English Springer Spaniel, Jack.

A celebration of Marilyn's life will be held on Sunday, July 7, 2024, from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. at the Silver Springs Clubhouse in Haskell, Arkansas. Guests are invited to wear their favorite t-shirts in honor of Marilyn's love for representing her favorite places and supporting her loved ones with a great collection of meaningful t-shirts. A graveside service will follow at a later date at Hill Crest Cemetery in Bossier City, Louisiana.

The family expresses deep gratitude to the exceptional team at CARTI, especially Dr. Scott Stern, Dr. Ryan Hall, Dr. Jonathan Pagan, and Missy Lewis, and Arkansas Hospice for their compassionate care.

Memorial contributions may be made to the CARTI Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, or Holland Chapel Baptist Church building fund. 

Marilyn saved a meaningful quote recently: "The deepest level of worship is praising God through the pain, thanking God through the trials, trusting Him when we’re tempted to lose hope, and loving Him, even when He seems distant. At my lowest, God is my hope. At my darkest, God is my light. At my weakest, God is my strength. At my saddest, God is my comforter." Marilyn never wavered in her faith and always found a way to glorify God with her kindness and positive spirit, may she be a witness to us all.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Marilyn Kathleen Abney, please visit our flower store.
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