Cover photo for Merrilyn F. Stephens's Obituary
Merrilyn F. Stephens Profile Photo
1928 Merrilyn 2019

Merrilyn F. Stephens

September 17, 1928 — April 12, 2019

Merrilyn was raised in Council Bluffs, on a 10 acre spread. She graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School. She worked as a hat maker, a phone operator and a secretary. Met Walter E. Stephens in 1950, Married June 23, 1951. Walt was a Marine so they traveled a lot. Her beloved “Wally Bally” preceded her in death and though she dated a few men later, none could live up to Walt. She had many Irish sayings, but her favorite was, “Life is too short to drink cheap beer and dance with ugly men.”

Walt would tease with their hook up story. Merrilyn had a crush on Walt who at that age drove a Harley Davidson. Merrilyn told her sister Jackie that that was the man she was going to marry. So according to Walt, she would lay in front of his Harley and tell him she would not move until he married her. They got married. :-)

When Walt got out of the service and they moved back to Council Bluffs, Merrilyn's parents turned the old chicken coop into a one room apartment. Merrilyn tells the story how she would fill up the old horse trough with water in the afternoon so the sun would warm it up for Walt to bathe when he got home from work at the telephone company as a line man.

She competed in Beauty contests and rodeo’s. So the story goes while living in California with her sister Eileen, she competed against an unknown Betty White. Betty won, but Merrilyn enjoyed the notoriety.

She was always political from a very young age. She was one of the electoral reps for the Goldwater/Johnson presidential race. She brought her kids to political functions & taught them that you have to understand the government in order to be a good citizen.

She loved acting and directing. She was a member of the little theaters in Grand Island Nebraska, North Platte Nebraska, South Sioux City Nebraska and Omaha Nebraska. She was In the process of joining a small acting group in Mapleton Iowa when cancer came knocking at her door. While in Omaha she also did a couple of extra roles in films.

She felt her greatest directing was at the Dakota City Players, Fiddler on the Roof. It was a well done play and great write ups.

She was a wonderful mother. We call them stay at home mom’s now. Her children loved being around her and she would join in their games, help them build cardboard forts in the yard. Inspired her son, Craig, to take up the drums. Oh what a drummer he is! She tried her hand at sewing outfits for her children. A bit successful but she was not the seamstress her sister Berniece was.

She was comfortable with her last season of life. Ready for the next chapter. Always said

“People are dying today that never died before.” Her sweet companion the last years of her life was her little “dog dog”, Watson Stephens. She would sing to him, “dog dog, bark bark, I love Watson Stephens”

She made her home at Embassy Care Center in Sergeant Bluff since August of 2018. What a wonderful and caring staff they employ there. Merrilyn liked to give them a hard time, but it was all in fun. They have cried with us in our mothers passing.

Wednesday and Fridays were her favorite times at the Care Center. Wednesdays were bingo and Friday was happy hour.

Her sister, Jackie Frost, also resides at the Embassy. They loved telling stories of their youth and the staff ate it up. Jackie is the last of her family.

Merrilyn and her children had a nice lunch together in March. She was strong enough to use the walker and make a trip to her daughters home in Morningside where there was cajun gumbo and wine. She had two big bowls of gumbo and a couple glasses of wine. Marguerite, Jerri and Lorre were there as were her grands, Nicholas, Jennifer, Kristen and Samantha. It was a good time, laughing, talking, remembering.

Merrilyn & Walt had four cherished children.
Marguerite Stephens
Jerri DeBolt (Stephens), husband Paul DeBolt
Craig Stephens
Lorre Marshall (Stephens), husband Lyle Marshall

Their children had families of their own which gave Walt and Merrilyn 7 grandchildren.
Donavan Dodson
Shannon Odenbach (Johnson)
Nicholas Hebert
Joshua Stephens
Stephen Hebert
Kristen Rohde (Marshall)
Samantha Marshall

And her blessing did not stop. She also had 8 great grandchildren
Jessica Dodson
Kayla Dodson
Kassidy Dodson
Katie Stephens
Julian Hebert
Kaileigh Hebert
Tucker Hebert
Jackson Hebert

90 good years. A good and blessed life. Not many folks get to live that long. Merrilyn knew life was a banquet and she did not starve. May she rest in peace.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Rueben & Marguerite Frost, 2 sisters, Eileen Smith and Berniece Winchester, a brother, Roderick Frost, a great granddaughter, Jessica Dodson and her husband, Walt Stephens
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Merrilyn F. Stephens, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, April 18, 2019

12:00 - 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Christy-Smith Funeral Homes - Morningside Chapel

1801 Morningside Avenue, Sioux City, IA 51106

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

Christy-Smith Funeral Homes - Morningside Chapel

1801 Morningside Avenue, Sioux City, IA 51106

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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