Marian Louise Funston Janssen 1924 – 2020

Marian Louise Funston Janssen was born on January 11, 1924 to Charles Weir and Lillian Edith Davis Funston. She went home to Heavenly Rest on April 27, 2020 at the age of 96. Marian was born at home on the farm near Enterprise, KS, between two sisters, Arlene and Bernice, whose birthdays were both on January 16.
Weir farmed and raised horses, registered Holstein cows (fed grain by how much milk they produced), and prize winning Chester white hogs. The chickens were Langshans with feathered legs, which according to meticulous Funston records, took less to feed, were larger to eat, and still laid eggs. Weir enjoyed gardening, and Marian remembered eating one of his yellow watermelons for Thanksgiving when she was five. Don’t believe it when the seed companies say yellow watermelons are new!
Marian started first grade in 1929. Her mother sent younger sister Bernice with her because she was sure Bernice would be totally lost without her. They walked diagonally across a pasture about a mile to a one-room country school house that had all eight grades.
The stock market crashed that fall, and Weir died on December 13, 1929 of heart problems. Lillian got a position as a housekeeper for $7 a week, typical at the time. Meals for Marian’s family were mostly bread, which was eight or ten cents a loaf, peanut butter and potatoes. The girls could not play with any neighbors’ toys, because if anything ever happened to any of them, there would be no way to replace them. It was the Depression, and people walked everywhere. Since soles in shoes were leather and wore our quickly, Marian remembered walking with holes or cutting cardboard insoles that lasted a day or two. The girls faced a lot of prejudice about being in a one-parent family.
In March, Marian’s family moved to Abilene. The girls started school, and Marian remembered feeling like the students at the new school were behind. After all, she and Bernice had heard the two second grade boys in the country school recite every day! Marian loved the Music Appreciation and Art classes.
Summers were spent on the farm with her Davis grandparents, while Lillian and Arlene worked. Marian and Bernice would climb the 40-foot windmill tower and sing every song they knew. They were “broadcasting,” like the radio station they heard on the Victrola! She didn’t think her mother ever knew.
When she was in the 4th grade, Marian and Bernice sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children’ and “Jesus Loves Me” for a child’s funeral. They were behind a curtain.
Lillian got a position with the telephone company in Lorraine, and the family moved again. It was a good job for the times, but it would not pay the bills unless Marian and Bernice took some night duties. This was the Depression, and their single-parent family an oddity at the time.
Marian graduated from Lorraine High School in 1941, and enrolled at Kansas State University in Manhattan in the fall of 1944. Marian remembered the school posting sheets of paper on the walls with the casualties of WWII listed every week, and there were fewer and fewer guys in her classes.
She went home for Christmas in 1945. She was headed to church when a good-looking soldier home from WWII came up to her and asked if she’s go to dinner with him. She didn’t know Paul Janssen, but she knew some of his brothers a little, so she didn’t hesitate. Marian went back to Manhattan to finish the semester and married Paul on February 8, 1946.
Paul and Marian had four children. Leslie Anne was born in 1947, and Paula Lynn in 1948. The couple bought a farm in Colorado and moved to Burlington in July of 1950. Allan Ross joined the family in 1952, and Claire Patrice in 1953.
The family joined the Methodist Church and Paul and Marian sang in the adult choir most of their lives. They took their children to piano lessons and made sure they practiced. (Leslie was a little irritated that Marian could call “F-sharp!” and “B-Flat!” from the kitchen and be right!)
Marian sewed nearly every day. Little girls wore dresses in those days, and she had three girls. She was a wonderful cook, hosting family Thanksgiving for up to 17 children and grandchildren. She loved iris and daylillies, and kept yearly records of colors and heights, blooming season, awards, and blooming order.
She loved children, and expected hers to do their best She coached one of them in math, from 2nd grade through her junior year, and helped with homework, projects, and studying for tests. She taught 3rd grade Sunday School for years, and after Paul died in 1998, volunteered in mentoring children for 14 years at Burlington Elementary in 3rd and 4th grade reading and kindergarten ESL. She was in her 70’s and 80’s.
Marian’s last years were spent at The Legacy and Grace Manor, mostly confined to a wheelchair. She had learned to use a computer for research, Solitaire, and email, and livened up exercise classes with Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” and quotes from Reader’s Digest magazines afterwards. She hosted her Bible study group in her room at the Legacy and playing Scrabble and putting together puzzles. She loved the challenges of puzzles and Sudoku. She was an avid reader, and kept lists of the birds she saw especially when she was on the farm.
We know she has now met Jesus, has been reacquainted with her husband, her father whom she hadn’t seen for 90 years, and her mother. We’ve all heard stores about the glorious music in Heaven, so perhaps she is singing alto.
Marian was preceded in death by her husband Paul, her parents Weir and Lillian Funston, both sisters, and her son-in-law, Thomas Coyne.
Living to celebrate her life are her children and their families: Leslie (Roger Woody) and their children Scott (Linea) and grandchildren Drake and Camille; Allison (Timothy Fitzpatrick) and grandson Liam; and Mark (Julia); Lynn (Thomas Coyne) and their children Ryan and Erin; Allan (Darcy) and his children, Ash (Amy) and grandchildren Brittney, Bentley, Berkley, Bexley, and Brinkley; Afton (Robie Martin), and step-children Carl Gilbert (Hollie) and grandchildren Colesen, Baile, Dalton, and a baby boy coming soon; Shawna Gilbert; Cory Gilbert (Kristi) and grandchildren Cooper and Sloane; and Claire (Laurence Bruns) and their children Adam and Rachel (and her fiance Jarred Howard), Nieces and nephews also blessed her life, as well a special friends who visited often, her Bible study group, the Methodist church choir, garden club, and a lifetime of friends.
Graveside services were held April 29, 2020 with Pastor Burry Bessee of the Methodist Church officiating. Memorials may be send to the Methodist Church or a charity of your choice. A memorial service is planned for sometime later. The family wanted to thank Pastor Burry and the staff at Grace Manor for the kind and thoughtful care they took of Marian. May God bless you all.