Surrounded by beloved family and friends, Jacquelyn Pauline “Jackie” Niel Marrs passed peacefully into the welcoming arms of her Maker on Sunday, June 2, 2013 at Brandon Woods in Lawrence, Kansas. A warm and beautiful woman who lived for her family, loved her friends and faced her final months courageously, with spirit and faith, kindness and grace, she will be forever missed by all who knew her.
The third of 5 children, Jackie was born to Henry and Carrie (Merrick) Niel of Joplin, Missouri on April 19, 1928. Raised on a small farm, she graduated from Joplin High School in 1946.
Shortly thereafter, she went to work at a local bakery where mothers of many young servicemen stopped in to urge the charming and unattached green-eyed beauty to meet their sons. One smart mother, however, took her recently-discharged Marine to Empire Baptist Church to point out the lovely dark-haired girl in the choir. Wayne Marrs was captivated but, he says with a laugh, worried that she “looked like the marrying kind.” Nevertheless, he attended all the church socials and so did she, always seeking each other out. Before long, he discovered he was the “marrying kind”, too. They became husband and wife on March 26, 1947.
Between 1947 and 1951, they made their home in Joplin, Missouri, where Jackie gave birth to their first son and first daughter, enjoyed the pleasures of a large and local extended family and was active in the Empire Baptist Church.
During 1951, Wayne’s reactivation in the Marines for the Korean War took the young family to California, where they lived in Santa Ana, Orange, Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. Jackie’s first experience of the beach started a life-long love of sand and water that she indulged whenever she could.
Returning to Joplin in 1953, Jackie gave birth to her second son and was happy to resume her rich, full family life. An excellent seamstress, she spent many careful hours creating clothes for herself and, especially, for her daughter. During this time, the family began to enjoy many, many weeks and weekends at Grand Lake of the Cherokees. Jackie, an avid fisherman, was once thrilled to be featured on Harold Ensley’s “Gone Fishin’” TV show with the nearly 7-pound Large-Mouth Black Bass she caught.
In 1959, the first of Wayne’s many transfers with ATT LongLines took them from Joplin to the Kansas City area, where they lived first in Shawnee and then Overland Park, Kansas. In Overland Park, Jackie was busy with canning, freezing and pickling the bounty from a massive vegetable garden and several fruit trees. Early in 1961, her second daughter and fourth child was born.
Transferred again later that year, they moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, later and then to Hiawatha, Kansas in 1963. It was in Hiawatha that her addiction to golf took hold. Playing as often as she could, the first of the many trophies she would later win was for “Most Improved Player” – something she looked back on with a giggle in later years because she “was soooo bad!”
It was during the Hiawatha years, too, that her first-born son enlisted in the Navy and was soon off to serve two tours in Viet Nam. She wrote him religiously every day and encouraged others to do the same. Moreover, she made sure letters and “goody boxes” were sent to other servicemen, believing that everyone needed to hear their name at mail call.
In 1967, ATT took the family to Dodge City, Kansas, where Jackie and Wayne developed many friendships, playing golf and going dancing very frequently. It was here, too, that Jackie hand-crafted the ultimate example of her seamstress talents…the exquisite wedding dress both of her daughters would wear.
In 1975, the final ATT transfer took them back to the Kansas City area, where they settled near Parkville, Missouri. A grandmother now with only one child at home, Jackie went to work as a receptionist for Far-Mar-Co at the bustling Board of Trade in Kansas City. Her retirement in 1985 gave her even more time to devote to her golf. Their home on the 10th green of the Windbrook Golf Club made it easy, too – even if it was just a “quick 3 holes” after dinner. Active in the North Kansas City Women’s Golf Association as well as the Fort Clark Women’s Golf Association in Del Rio, Texas, where she and Wayne spent their winters, Jackie was a highly-sought partner who delighted in teaching newer players nearly as much as she delighted in tournament play. “Some people ‘clutch’ when other people are watching,” she said once after a ‘sudden-death playoff’ that she won, “but I LOVE it!” Winner of many tournaments and titles, including Women’s Club Champion at Fort Clark, she also achieved what few golfers do…a hole in one. Twice!
In addition to indulging her passion for golf during retirement years, Jackie enjoyed traveling with her husband. They frequently visited Joplin, Denver, Boston and Minneapolis as well as Del Rio, Texas, where day trips to Mexico were common. They enjoyed the beaches in Hawaii, Mexico, Texas and Florida with their children.
In 2011, Jackie and Wayne moved from Kansas City to Meadowlark Estates in Lawrence, Kansas, where they were embraced by many new acquaintances who quickly became the dearest of friends. A modest and self-effacing woman, Jackie never understood why people gravitated to her the way they did or why, after just a few minutes, so many people seemed to love her.
An active participant in many activities, Jackie was thrilled and fascinated by the both national and international acclaim she briefly shared with the other members of “The Rooster and The Chicks” – Meadowlark’s famous Senior Citizen Flash Mob dancers – the YouTube sensations who received millions of “hits” and were featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show, CNN and other TV programs.
In April, 2013, declining health caused Wayne and Jackie to move from Meadowlark to Brandon Woods, where she spent her final weeks. The family will always be grateful for the truly compassionate and tender care she received from the health care workers who became her newest friends, as well as from dear Jade.
Jackie was preceded in death by her mother Carrie Della Merrick Niel and father George Henry Spencer Niel, sisters Patty Niel Barnett and Eva Niel Fullerton, and brother Lyle Niel.
She leaves her husband of 66 years, H. Wayne Marrs; sons Stephen Wayne Marrs and wife Juda Parks Marrs of Lawrence, KS, and Richard Niel Marrs and wife Linda Cunningham Marrs of Centennial, CO; daughters Janet Lynn Marrs Laughead of Wellesley, MA, and Susan Marrs Snay and husband Kevin Snay of Olathe, KS. She also leaves her dear sister Carolyn Niel Beckham Handley of Eugene, OR; sister-in-law Camille Niel of Carthage, MO; and brother-in-law Robert “Bob” Barnett of Magazine, AR.
Grandma leaves ten grandchildren; Zachary (Jennifer) Marrs, Matthew (Jennifer Forman) Marrs, Chelsea Marrs (Jason) Johnson, Trevor Marrs, Caitlyn Marrs, Lauren Laughead (Billy) Macaulay, Jonathan Laughead, Heather Snay, April Snay and Lindsey Snay.
Her six great-grandchildren will miss her dearly, too; Madison, Zane and Morgan Marrs, Haven and Gracie Johnson, and Noah Laughead Corso.
Too numerous to mention are the many nieces and nephews who, along with their own children and grandchildren, will also long for their warm and engaging Aunt Jackie. She took great interest and delight in each one of them, relishing their visits, calls, emails and Facebook posts, concerned when they were troubled and happy in their joy.
Services will be held at 2 PM on Saturday, June 15, 2013 at The Smith Center at Brandon Woods, 1430 Brandon Woods Terrace, Lawrence, KS. Reception following.
Jackie’s heart was often touched by those in need, especially children. Donations in her memory may be made to Jack’s Magic Bean Fund, 185 Weston Road, Wellesley, MA 02482.
Online condolences available at Rumsey-Yost.com.
Messages & Condolences
I loved playing golf with both Wayne and Jackie, especially Jackie who played with us ladies at Ft. Clark. When I saw her for the first time with her beautiful “white hair” after seeing her the last time with brown and looking at her and thinking, “I should know that lady?” We had a good laugh when it finally dawned on me that it was Jackie.
With sympathy and Blessings to Wayne and her entire family.
We are so sorry for your loss. A bright light has gone from this earth. I remember fondly playing golf at Windbrook with Jackie. She truly was someone everyone loved. Susan, you may remember Carrie, your mom was so good to her also.
Again, our condolences to you all
In sympathy to your family.
Reagan & Kathleen Brewer
Overland Park, KS
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Words cannot erase it, nor can the void be filled.
It appears as Jackie traveled her journey of life, she stopped and enjoyed all the things it had to offer, giving her love to the many lives she touched.
Kay and I are in Bella Vista, Arkansas and enjoy golf 5 days per week on 6 different 18 hole course. There are a few AT&T retirees here, and some from 1425 Oak.
May life bring you fairways and greens.
10 Forfar Drive
Bella Vista Arkansas
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