Remembering Marion Kathryn Keeney
Age 81, of Newton, KS, Marion Kathryn Keeney died Tuesday, February 16, 2016. Marion was born to
Kathryn Echard Keeney and William Leroy Keeney on March 31, 1934 in Orient, Pennsylvania in coal mining
country. Her family was part of a Quaker community project which laid a strong foundation for her pacifist
and social justice beliefs. Marion Keeney earned an undergraduate degree in History at Bluffton College
(Bluffton, Ohio) and a Master’s Degree in Religious Education at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries
(Elkhart, Indiana). Marion met Vern Preheim while they were at seminary. Their common beliefs in equality
for all, women’s rights, peace, and social change, led to a marriage which lasted for 38 years. They raised
five children together and spent most of their married life first in Akron, Pennsylvania and then in Newton,
Marion’s passion for education, religion, and service lead her to work abroad with Mennonite Central
Committee in Algeria and Zaire, to publish a book called “Overseas Service Manual”, and to write
journalistically for various Mennonite news publications including contributing regularly to “Rejoice!”, a
Mennonite publication of daily devotional readings. She also did research about mental illness for genetic
studies and opened a Head Start program at Akron Mennonite Church. Marion was very gifted with words. She loved words both spoken and written. Most of her day was filled with words whether that be sitting around talking with people, playing a game of Scrabble, cherishing the book of the week she was reading, or writing a descriptive story about someone she admired. She wrote a book of stories to use during the children’s story time at church and articles about people for the Newton, Kansan. She wrote letters to her loved ones and even wrote notes about her life in the margins of the Sunday morning bulletin so she could share her life happenings with her family when they called. She enjoyed sewing, painting, knitting, and cooking. She selfpublished a cook booklet of recipes she loved and had perfected.
Marion was exceptionally bright with a keen intelligence and academic gifts. As she grew older, dementia
led to memory loss but not the loss of the sparkle in her eye when she was with her children. For the last
eight years of her life she received attentive care from the staff at Peabody Health and Rehab in Peabody,
Kansas, for which her family is deeply grateful. Though her illness destroyed her key capabilities, those who
knew her in her life’s final chapter were struck by her radiant smile.
Marion Keeney is preceded in death by her parents, Kathryn Echard Keeney and William Leroy Keeney, and
her sisters Betty Keeney Hill and Eleanor Keeney Myers, and her brother William (Willadene) Keeney. She
will be dearly missed by her sisters Joan Keeney Ritchie of Riddle, Indiana and Martha Keeney (Jim) Thorpe
of Hagerstown, Maryland; and her children Brian (Janis) Preheim of Ephrata Pennsylvania, Beth Preheim
(Michael Sprong) of Yankton, South Dakota, Jay Preheim of Newton, Kansas, Lorie Preheim of Washington,
DC, and Jan Preheim of Brookline, Massachusetts. She will also be missed by her grandchildren Mathew
Preheim, Tumaini Preheim Pwelle, Steven Preheim Bartel, Laura Preheim Bartel, Aaron Preheim Bartel, and
numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held March 19, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. at the Grand Central, 122 E 6th Street,
Newton, Kansas 67114. Contributions in her memory may be made in service of any of the causes above or
the Bluffton University Keeney Peace Lectureship ( www.bluffton.edu ) which was established in 1978 by the
family of William Sr. and Kathryn Keeney to express appreciation for Bluffton’s influence and to strengthen
the continuing peace witness among the community.