Marilyn Rue Suppes Rasmusen, April 24, 1928--July 13, 2009

Marilyn Rue Suppes was an only child and an unexpected one. Her father thought her mother was joking when after eleven years of marriage she said a baby was on the way. He was happy, though; like his daughter, he treated children as respectfully as adults and knew how to have a good time with them. Her granddaughter Elizabeth, who died in the same car-train crash as she did, loved seeing Grandma. They were much alike, in body, mind, and spirit--- happy with life, free spirits, patient, and loving to be helpful even in a background role.

She went to college at Northwestern and majored in psychology, graduating in 1950. She was accepted for graduate school at the University of Minnesota but decided instead to become a secretary for a small engineering company in the Tribune Tower in Chicago. Then she moved to San Francisco, where she became better acquainted with Benjamin Arthur Rasmusen, son of friends of her parents. They were married on July 14, 1957 in Somonauk, the town she grew up in after her parents moved from their farm a few miles away so that their daughter could go to school in town instead of in the one-room schoolhouse.

After her husband finished his Ph.D. at UC-Davis, they moved to Urbana, Illinois, where he became an Associate Professor of Animal Genetics. Her first child, Eric, arrived in December 1958, followed by Mary in 1960 and Andrew in 1962. Marilyn was manager of the Champaign County Youth Symphony, Editor of the book LaSalle County Lore, author of The Celebrated Travelling Rock of Champaign County, and a Director of Somonauk's Olmstead Museum. Interested in everything and everyone, she was a student of local history, and active in volunteering, including giving carefully researched historical talks at schools dressed as an Indian, helping introduce handicapped children to horses, and knitting dolls for poor children in Africa. Besides raising her children, she took care of her mother at her house for some years after she had become too feeble to be comfortable in an apartment or nursing home. She lived in Urbana for 27 years, in Edinburgh, Scotland 1965-66, and in Cambridge, England 1972-73. She had travelled extensively in Europe, and once even to New Guinea. From 1984 to 2009, she and Ben lived in the house her grandfather had built at the farm near Somonauk, enjoying the process of sprucing it up to be modernly Victorian. Many of their last winters they spent at their daughter Mary's house in Leucadia, near San Diego.

She was a devoted grandmother, always remembering the birthdays of Monica, Veronica, Jacob, Amelia, Elizabeth, Benjamin, Lillian, and Faith. She shed tears of happiness at the Big Bear resort at her 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration with all the grandchildren, after we held an outdoors family church service. We remember the year she asked as a birthday present that each grandchild memorize something to recite for her. Somehow she combined tremendous mental strength--- she would have made a good trial lawyer--- with mildness, gentleness, respect for her husband, and childlike enthusiasm. She seemed to be equally happy and at home in Chicago, Urbana, Somonauk, and Cambridge. She could talk to anyone and make them feel at home, and she was interested in everything.

Marilyn and her husband and granddaughter Elizabeth were killed instantly on July 13th, 2009, the day before her wedding anniversary, when her car was struck by a high speed Amtrak passenger train near the intersection of Route 34 and East 23rd Road not far from her home. Her health was undiminished, and we all had expected her to reach her 90's easily. She had just finished a six-part series of articles on the Indian chief Shabbona for Cornsilk that is being published posthumously. She is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Sandwich, Illinois.

Eric, her eldest son, is an an economics professor at Indiana University, in Bloomington, Indiana, married to the former Helen Choi and with four surviving children: Amelia, Benjamin, Lillian, and Faith (Elizabeth having died in the crash). Mary--- now Mary Beale--- lives in Leucadia, California with her husband Scott and son Jacob, where she is a software engineer for Sun Microsystems. Andrew, an investment consultant for Angeles Investment Advisor, lives in Santa Monica, California, near his ex-wife Gloria and daughters Monica and Veronica.

URL: December 16, 2009. On the web at: Comments: