Marilyn Ann Kelly, 65, of Dakota Dunes, passed away peacefully Sunday, May 13, 2018, at her residence.
Services will be 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Sunnybrook Community Church, 5601 Sunnybrook Drive, in Sioux City. Interment will be in Memorial Park Cemetery, Sioux City. Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. today, with the family present 6 to 8 p.m. and a prayer service at 7 p.m., at Morningside Chapel, Christy-Smith Funeral Homes, 1801 Morningside Ave., in Sioux City. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.christysmith.com. Please read Marilyn's Legacy about the Lepers of Kilimanjaro there.
Marilyn was born on March 12, 1953, in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to Clifton and Claire (Wunder) Cox. She grew up in Fort Dodge and graduated from Fort Dodge High School in 1971. She earned her teaching diploma from Iowa State University in 1975 and moved to South Sioux City for her first teaching job.
Marilyn married Bruce Kelly on Oct. 24, 1987, in South Sioux City. Marilyn then taught at Sergeant Bluff schools for several years before the couple adopted two girls, Karyn and Annie. Marilyn traded careers to be a full-time mom while the girls were in school. As the girls grew older, she went back to teaching in the South Sioux City School District as an ESL teacher at Harney Elementary. Marilyn was an active member of Sunnybrook Community Church in Sioux City.
Marilyn's passion throughout life was being a Christian volunteer. It was her mission to help others. She and Bruce were active in United Marriage Encounter. Horizon Ministries, helping families in need, was developed out of her love for her students and their families in her ESL classes. God began bending Marilyn's heart toward African missions when she went to Tanzania with STEMM. While on one of her many trips back to Tanzania with her friend, Susan Gasse, Marilyn began a new direction in her mission work. They encountered a group of people who had leprosy. Marilyn's heart broke for them. After much thought and prayer her heart was moved to try to help these people. The following year they returned to the neighborhood of lepers and were introduced to what would become her Christian congregation, now known as the Lepers of Kilimanjaro. A non-profit called Lepers of Kilimanjaro was formed, which gave the ministry the opportunity to accept donations and offer tax deductions for donations. Over the years, her ministry has provided furniture, household goods, food, and medical care, while attending to their spiritual needs as well.
Survivors include her husband, Bruce Kelly of Dakota Dunes; two daughters, Karyn Becker and her husband, Alex, of Yankton, S.D., and Annie Kelly and her special friend, Jordan Green, of South Sioux City; four grandchildren, Carter, Kapri, Blair, and Adycin; a brother-in-law, Jim Kelly and his wife, Holly, of South Sioux City; a sister in-law, Kim Kelly and her husband, Steve Nichelson, of Lincoln, Neb.; along with several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; and an infant sister, Karen.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials or donations be directed to the Lepers of Kilimanjaro to carry on Marilyn's work in Tanzania.