Marlene Sanders died Sunday June 7, 2020.
She was born Marlene Marie Nazer in Anaconda, Mont., in July 1941. Raised in the Italian tradition, she had a close relationship with her grandmother, aunts and uncles.
She spent her youth ice skating at the Commons, competing in small bore rifle shooting, riding horses in the mountains with friends, and as a cheerleader and rule-abiding student.
She was the first member of her entire family to get an advanced education, graduating from St. Patrick’s Nursing school as an RN, a calling more than a vocation. Her instinct for healing combined with natural leadership was best applied as Emergency Room Manager for over 10 years at West Park Hospital (WPH) in Cody.
Her talents were honored in the creation of the “Marlene Sanders Award for Excellence in Nursing” given annually to a WPH nurse who exemplifies nursing the way Marlene did. She was a true professional nurse to the core, proudly wearing her traditional white nursing cap and uniform to the day she retired.
For many years, she and her husband and two daughters lived in Dubois, a small, remote town where the nearest real medical care was 75 miles away. The local PA was unreliable which led many people to her home for help. Marlene was a true frontier medicine woman, stitching wounds in the kitchen, delivering babies (thankfully, not in the kitchen), diagnosing illnesses, healing without payment because she was needed.
When asked, she would tell you her favorite area of medicine was pediatrics. She was always able to calm kids’ fears while achieving whatever treatment was needed efficiently and in a matter-of-fact way. She brightened at children everywhere. Even the last two years in her care facility, she did whatever she could to help others – watching out for the well-being of her roommates and tying fleece blankets for kids at Primary Children’s Hospital.
She loved and took pride in her five grandchildren and demonstrated a side of herself we, her daughters, did not witness growing up. She was an affectionate yet strict parent. As a grandparent, if a child wanted several cookies for breakfast or to jump on her bed like a trampoline, her rationale when asked why she allowed it was “because they wanted to!”
Marlene loved nature, the mountains, the seasons, animals, birds, plants. She had so many talents and interests, including trap shooting, sewing, cross country and downhill snow skiing, water skiing, cake decorating. She was a spectacular Girl Scout leader – putting up tents, canoeing, backpacking, campfire cooking. She was able to handle it all – all while wearing lipstick.
Mom was a devout Catholic and the strongest person we have ever known, both mentally and physically. She was particular about how things were to be done. She endured the demands of a traditional marriage, sexism in the workplace, the challenges of parenting two daughters.
She was full-time nurse and all the time caregiver and servant. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 45 but told very few people (her parents never knew), managing through life by her oft-repeated philosophy of “you do what you have to do.”
Marlene was preceded in death by husband Jack, and is survived by her sister Tanna (Paul) Bebo, daughters Suzanne (Chris) Fassler and Denise (Brian) Wiegand as well as grandchildren Aaron, Shannon, and Theresa Fassler and Jessica and Justin Wiegand.
A rosary and vigil of remembrance will be at Ballard Funeral Home on Monday, June 15, 2020, at 5 p.m. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Cody on Tuesday, June 16, at 10 a.m., with committal services immediately after at Riverside Cemetery. St. Anthony’s Church asks that masks be worn and social distancing be respected. The church capacity will be limited to 60.
Please honor her memory by loving others beyond reason and respecting the value and dignity of human life. Please make memorial donations in her name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.
An online guestbook is available at BallardFH.com.