Marilyn MacAllister Memorial Fund

Marilyn MacAllister


Marilyn Lee MacAllister’s life on earth ended on June 18, 2016, at her home in Gunnison, CO.  She chose that day, their wedding day 66 years ago, to be reunited with her husband Jack in Heaven.  Theirs was a love story for the ages, and it couldn’t have ended any other way.  Marilyn was a devoted wife, homemaker, beloved mother and grandmother.

Marilyn was born December 11, 1927, in Ponca City, OK.  She was the first of three children born to John Russell and Eva Marie Anderson.  Her parents both came from very small, very rural towns in Iowa.  Her Dad had accepted a teaching position in Ponca City.  They didn’t have much at the time, and Marilyn spent her first nights at home sleeping in the top drawer of a dresser.  Very humble beginnings, yet humility would prove to be one of her strongest traits.

They returned to Iowa when Marilyn was still an infant, settling in Des Moines where she would be raised.  She had two younger brothers, one of whom died tragically as an infant.  After high school, she enrolled at the University of Iowa.  Although she really didn’t want to go to college, her parents insisted.  At the U of I, she majored in home economics and became a member of the famed Scottish Highlanders marching band.

During a halftime performance at a football game, Jack was sitting in the stands watching the kilted Highlanders perform.  He leaned over to his friend, pointed to the cute blonde playing the snare drum, and said, “I want to meet that girl.”  He did.  Their blind date didn’t leave a good first impression on Marilyn, but Jack persisted and won her heart.  They married after graduation in 1950.

They honeymooned at Estes Park, cementing what would prove to be a life-long love for the Colorado mountains.  They returned to Council Bluffs, IA with five dollars to their names, where Dad began his career with Northwestern Bell climbing telephone poles.  He rose through the company to become the CEO for US West in Denver in 1984, one of the seven “Baby Bells” resulting from the breakup of AT&T.  Along the way they moved twelve times in five states.  Marilyn was always there for Jack, and for her three children.  In all, Marilyn would move the household 19 times in her life, and could recall every move in detail, not always with fondness.

They returned to the mountains often for vacation.  Taking the young family camping, and by themselves for ski vacations.  There are home movies and photos from the 50s and 60s at places like Idlewild, Winter Park, and Aspen before it became what it is today.  Eventually they built their first vacation home in Mt. Crested Butte in 1975.  They loved their mountain home, retreating there often over the years for holidays, ski vacations, family reunions, and to host their many friends.  In retirement, they settled in a home at Skyland near Crested Butte, before their final move to Gunnison, CO.

Marilyn and Jack were also very compassionate to those less fortunate and for charitable causes.  They were very generous and sincere in sharing their success over the years.  They established the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Family Foundation, which is alive and giving today and for the future, enhancing their philanthropic legacy.  Scholarships are funded at five universities today, and non-profit organizations nationally, in Colorado, and particularly in the Gunnison-Crested Butte valley in recent years have benefitted from their Foundation.   Although, they wouldn’t want any credit for doing so.

Please click “Donate Now” to give a gift in memory of Marilyn MacAllister.

If you prefer to mail in a memorial gift check, please make it payable to CFGV and note that the gift is for the Marilyn MacAllister Memorial Fund.

Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley
PO Box 7057
Gunnison, CO  81230



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