Alumni Obituary - Marilyn (Mo) Ione (Gillette) Odermann Skip to content

Alumni Obituary – Marilyn (Mo) Ione (Gillette) Odermann

Picture of Marilyn Odermann

Marilyn Ione (Gillette) Odermann, affectionately known as Mo, was born to Clayton and Helen Gillette on September 22, 1940 in Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The family moved to Wessington Springs, SD in 1943 where she attended elementary school. She went on to attend Wessington Springs College (WSC c’60) which included high school. Some of her favorite childhood memories included taking a bath, getting in pajamas, and going to the drive-in for ice cream; fishing with bamboo poles; enjoying family picnics with potato salad and fried chicken; and adventuring on vacations every summer.

Marilyn started dating Ellis Odermann (Oats) when she was a freshman and he was a junior in high school. Their first date was going roller-skating in Mitchell, SD. Their families were good friends, and they knew each other most of their lives. They were a junior bride and groom in a wedding when Ellis was 5 years old and Marilyn was 3 years old.

Ellis asked her to marry him over Christmas break (1960) when he was home from Greenville College, and they were married September 9, 1961 in the chapel at WSC. They both worked for WSC and Wessington Springs Academy (WSA) where the years were lean, but happy.

Their son, Jeffrey, was born October 9, 1965, and three years later after WSA closed, the family moved to McPherson, Kansas to become a part of the Central College family. Their daughter, Rochelle, was born July 23, 1969, and the family lived above the Winslow family in the old Elms House, where the McPherson Free Methodist Church currently sits. In 1970, Ellis built his family a home on Central Avenue where they lived until 1980 when he built their family another home on Pine Court. Marilyn lived there until May 2022, and the family currently operates the property as an Airbnb called “Oats & Mo’s Place” so they can continue to enjoy the home.

Alongside her husband, Marilyn was a faithful employee of Central Christian College of Kansas working there for nearly 40 years, only taking a few years off to be home with her children before they were in school full-time. The couple was inducted into the Academe of Achievers and they retired together in 2000. Marilyn enjoyed her official role serving in the business office with Ellis, but she offered so much more to the college community as a dorm parent, class sponsor, and honorary mom to many students who passed through the halls and who she invited into her home.

Marilyn was also an active member of the McPherson Free Methodist Church where she taught the kindergarten Sunday school class for numerous years, sang in the choir, played organ, and supported many people in the church as well as missionaries with her fervent prayers and financial generosity. She also served the McPherson community in many ways including volunteering to help adults improve their English skills; being involved on a team to rehabilitate a paralyzed man; getting groceries for and visiting the elderly; and helping in her daughter-in-law Sue’s pre-K classroom.

Marilyn placed the highest priority on her faith, followed by her love of family. Ellis was her “one and only” and they enjoyed a 53 year marriage until he went to heaven in 2014. Marilyn joined him, her parents and grandparents, and her sisters, Eloise and Rosalie, on June 10, 2024.

Survivors include: a son, Jeffrey Odermann (Sue) of McPherson; a daughter, Rochelle Traub (Kevin) of Middleville, MI; grandchildren Brittany Bobert (Jordan), Jillette Odermann, Katie Odermann, Espen Traub, Sierra Traub, and Gracyn Traub; great-grandchildren Mason Zagorach and Adilyn Bobert; brother Gaylord Gillette (Vicki); brother-in-law Dave Jeffery (Coleen); sisters-in-law Lois Huff (Tim), Vicki Odermann, and Amy Little; and nieces and nephews.

The family would like to give special thanks to Brenda Foster of Harmony Home and the staffs of Brookdale and Gentiva Hospice for their care of Marilyn.

The family will receive friends from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM, Monday, June 24, 2024, at the McPherson Free Methodist Church.  The funeral service will be held at 10:30 AM, Tuesday, June 25, at the McPherson Free Methodist Church. Burial will follow at the McPherson Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be given to the McPherson Free Methodist Church, the Gillette Scholarship Fund at Central Christian College of Kansas, or Oakdale Christian Academy in loving memory of Marilyn.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Marilyn I. Odermann, please visit our flower store.


Central Christian College of Kansas is a regionally accredited institution offering undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Central strives to offer Christ-centered education for the whole person – heart, mind, soul, and strength. Its history dates back to 1884, and it is located in the friendly town of McPherson, Kansas. Central is a strategically small college that offers over forty areas of residential study and a thriving online program for non-traditional students. To learn more about Central go to Visit the Foundation of Central Christian College to see what projects and events are coming up.

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