PHOENIX, NY – Marilyn Demis Utley, 69, of Palmyra, Virginia, passed away peacefully on Sunday January 5, 2014, with her daughter and her companion by her side.
Born October 13, 1944, in Syracuse, NY, she was the daughter of the late Fillmore G. and Dorothy Neuber Utley.
She is survived by her daughter, Catherine Elizabeth Gunsalus Chiovaro and her husband, Richard, of Palmyra; three grandsons who were the light of her life, Bradley Frank, Benjamin Richard and Blake Edward Chiovaro; her companion of 28 years, Eugene E. Milowicki (Palmyra) and her life-long friend of nearly 60 years, Nancy Beth Harrison Fergerson (Clay, NY).
Marilyn moved from Fairmount to Phoenix, NY, in 1954 and was a graduate of Phoenix Central Schools in 1962.
She attended Penn Hall Junior College for Women in Chambersburg, Pa., and the University of Miami, Cape Coral, Florida.
She returned to Phoenix, was married to Richard P. Gunsalus (until 1980) and started her family and career as a working mother in the late 1960s and ’70s.
Marilyn worked in the Phoenix school system, in construction for Winkelman, Eastern Rock, John B. Pike and Pike-Paschen construction companies from 1972-1985.
With a career change to Price Modern, she began commercial furniture design and worked with them in Baltimore, Maryland and Virginia Beach from the mid-1980s until 2005 when she relocated to Palmyra to be near her daughter and grandsons.
She worked for a short time at Comcast and then found a late career love as a claims processer at State Farm in Charlottesville, Va., where she truly enjoyed the added and unexpected benefit of “community” in the many friendships she made there at “The Farm.”
Marilyn was active in many capacities of Camp Fire, beginning at age 5 as a camper and attended the Camp Fire Golden Jubilee in 1960 in New York City. She also held positions as counselor, group leader, day camp director and served on the board of directors of the Onondaga Council in the 1970s. She enjoyed seeing her grandsons return to Camp Talooli as it always held a special place in her heart.
Marilyn also was a member of Eastern Stars, Junior Deputy for Triangle, a sports booster of Phoenix Central Schools, officer of the Phoenix Nursery School, associate member of Century Club, and member of the Phoenix First Congregational Church. Marilyn attended Effort Baptist Church with her family after moving to Palmyra and could frequently be seen at Fork Union Military Academy, at her grandsons’ school events.
Marilyn was a lover of “being rescued by” animals and her pets always lived a long life and were great companions to her.
She loved natural gardening and old pictures and family memorabilia.
She was a great verbal historian and had an incredible knack for remembering details and being a good storyteller.
To her grandsons, she was their beach pal, adventure planner, sports fan and dream maker. To her daughter, she was her number one fan, inspirer and motivator. To her friends she brought wisdom and inspiration and an attentive ear and shoulder to cry on with an ability to gently but sometimes abruptly, right them on their path.
She will be dearly missed by all those she touched.
A special thanks to those providing her love and care over the past year, including Dr. Boyer and the Hope Center staff, and the staff at Martha Jefferson Hospital and Hospice House during her brief stay.
Interment with graveside service will be in Pulaski Village Cemetery, 5052 U. S. Route 11, Pulaski, NY, on July 21 at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to any of Marilyn’s favorite causes, Phoenix First Congregational Church, Phoenix, NY (43 Bridge St., Phoenix, NY); Camp Talooli, Phoenix, NY (PO Box 6, Phoenix, NY 13135) or the Fluvanna County SPCA (5239 Union Mills Road, Troy, Va. 22974).