Life Story Celebration
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
With a ready smile and a happy heart, Marlene Mohney lived a life rich in family and friends. Marlene was a hard worker who devoted herself to the good care of her loved ones. Whether tending the farm, antiquing, or driving a forklift, she knew how to live life to the fullest, laughing much of the way. She embraced each moment as a gift and enveloped everyone in good love. A cherished mother, grandmother, sister, and friend, Marlene will long be remembered and so dearly missed.
1943 marked a time when the war effort directly impacted all American lives. While Ford and GM converted their plants from automobile manufacturing to the building of bombs and aircraft engines, an unprecedented 18 million women proudly worked the manufacturing jobs once held by the men who were now overseas. Providing a sense of respite from the daily struggles, Frank Sinatra and Glenn Miller filled the airways, Lassie Come Home dominated the television, and the musical Oklahoma took the stage on Broadway. For Marshall and Pauline (Guinnup) Mohney, it was a particularly exciting time as they welcomed their daughter Marlene to their family on May 14 in Owosso, Michigan.
A farmgirl at heart, Marlene grew up helping tend to the crops and livestock. Along with her brothers, Tom and Rob, Marlene was responsible for milking the cows, along with many other tasks, but driving the tractors was one of her favorites. While a senior in high school, Marlene met Robert “Bob” Hemenway. The couple was excited and eager to marry, though her father preferred that she graduate high school first. True to her nature, Marlene followed her own ambitions and married Bob. Even though it didn’t last but several years, she did the best she could.
Marlene was blessed with three children, Janine, Toni, and Mike. With a huge and well-kept garden on the farm, there was never a shortage of fruits and vegetables, canned or fresh, and she often made jams, jellies, and homemade baked goods. Her steadfast and loving attitude taught one child to be respectful, wise, and how to love with their whole hearts.
Many summers were spent at Lake Michigan enjoying the sun soaked, beaches with the sand between their toes. Though challenging at times, she masterfully balanced her work life with her home life. She began working at Lakeview Hospital in Paw Paw in the 1980s in the Emergency Room. Much to her surprise, her daughter visited the E.R. with a broken arm during one of Marlene’s shifts. After hearing the story of how it happened, Marlene’s generous love had Toni patched up and feeling better in no time at all.
For many years, Marlene worked at and managed Lawson’s Gas Station before going back to school and earning her GED. Following in the footsteps of several family members, she went to work for Welch’s in Lawton and became a Hi-Lo driver. Marlene was well known for her outgoing, unfiltered personality and proudly wore a shirt that read, “If my butt is beeping, I’m backing up!”
Without a doubt, Marlene’s happiest place was the farm, where she raised Dobermans and raised Tennessee Walkers when her kids were young. Though she left a few times over the years, the farm was always home, and her parents became the glue that kept the family together. They made the farm a place where everyone could gather and forget about their problems for a little while. She continued helping at the farm until just a few years ago.
For fun, Marlene and her daughter spent countless weekends antiquing together and knew the location of every worthy antique shop from here to the lakeshore. They had so much fun together the store clerks often presumed they were sisters. Once, they took an epic trip to the Mall of America. On a whim, Marlene decided to get her hair cut. Despite not being happy with her stylist, he ended up giving her the best haircut of her life!
Generous and hospitable by nature, Marlene made sure everyone was well cared for and sharing a good laugh. She often sat in front of the farm on the swing and waved at everyone passing by whether she knew them or not. When her son-in-law mowed the lawn, she was sure to bring him a cold root beer, one of her own favorites as well. After her dementia set in, she might bring him two or three more, not remembering she had already made sure he had a cool drink on a hot day.
Marlene loved her yard. A farm girl through and through, she loved her rocks and used them to create borders and landscapes around anything and everything. She had a big heart for animals and never let an animal go hungry. She generously fed stray cats and even opossums. Much like her father, she also loved watching birds and spent many afternoons listening the chirping of their melodies. Marlene was blessed to have fantastic neighbors, many of whom looked in on her later in life as her dementia worsened.
Though the world feels significantly duller in the absence of Marlene’s bright companionship, may we find much comfort in our many treasured memories. May we also find comfort in the honor of carrying her beautiful legacy forward. In each moment we confidently face life’s challenges, cheer on our loved ones' endeavors, tend to our gardens, shelter an animal in need, and gather with family for a home-cooked meal we celebrate all the ways Marlene made the world a better place. In this way, we keep her spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Marlene Mohney, age 80, died on December 6, 2023. Marlene was preceded in death by her parents; and 2 nephews, Shane and Chad Mohney. Surviving are her children: Janine Hemenway, Toni (Bill) Dersch, and Mike Hemenway; several grandchildren and great-grandchildren; siblings, Tom (Joan) Mohney and Rob Mohney; and nephew, Ryan Mohney. Please join us for a Life Story Celebration on Saturday, December 16th at 11 AM at Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Homes, 60900 M-40, Paw Paw (269) 657-3870. A reception will follow in the Life Story Center. Visit Marlene’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kalamazoo Humane Society.