Marilyn Pelehach Obituary (1954-2021) – Greensboro, NC

Pelehach, Marilyn Thomas

March 26, 1954 – July 29, 2021

Marilyn Pelehach died peacefully in Greensboro, NC, on July 29, 2021, surrounded by her family. She was 67.

Marilyn was born on March 26, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest child of the late Kendall and Augusta (Holmes) Thomas. She grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio and graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1972 and from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1976. She took pride in wearing two tassels on her hat when she graduated, marking her two degrees – a BA in Psychology and a BS in Education.

Marilyn began her teaching career in Sandusky, Ohio, teaching children with learning difficulties in grades 5 through 12. She was a gifted teacher and a strong advocate for her students. In 1984 she moved to Fremont, Michigan, where she continued to teach LD students. After taking some time off after moving to Oak Ridge in 1994 to raise her busy family, she eventually returned to the classroom, teaching and tutoring at Noble Academy in Greensboro for a period.

Marilyn and her husband John met at Stone House in Sandusky, Ohio for a happy hour on Friday. John was quickly drawn to the dedicated young teacher with the big smile and beautiful green eyes. Sometimes they would say, “We met for happy hour and we’ve been happy ever since.” They were married on June 12, 1982 at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and were loving 39 years. She was an amazing woman and they were true partners.

The Pelehach household was a busy place, especially when, as Marilyn said, the children were “six, four, two and new.” She loved motherhood and was an extraordinary mother – a great listener, confidante, advocate, counselor, and friend. Marilyn was surprised a few times when her acquaintances said she was her role model. She took great pride in her children and their accomplishments, including her choice of spouse. Towards the end of her life she was a happy and loving grandma, but unfortunately for too short a time.

A member of her high school and college synchronized swim teams, Marilyn enjoyed skiing, biking, the outdoors, craft projects, and family games, especially canasta. She loved traveling, and she and John have enjoyed numerous great trips. She wanted “everywhere” and was proud to have traveled six continents and finally decided she didn’t really need Antarctica. Marilyn’s community activities included volunteering at Special Olympics, starting a PTA at one of her children’s schools, delivering meals on wheels for 19 years, and serving as an Alight Guide for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. What she enjoyed most was teaching adult literacy through Reading Connections. One student commented: “It took me to another world – a place I’ve never been before.” Many of the students and others she has helped all their lives may say the same thing.

Marilyn’s story is remarkable not only for what she did, but also for the kind of person she was. Marilyn was a person who saw the good in everyone and always put the other first. She really listened to people to understand them and was kind, thoughtful, generous, positive, creative, empathetic, wise, and strong.

She leaves behind her husband John of Oak Ridge, sons Andrew (Kelly) and Michael (Lindsey), both from San Francisco, CA, daughters Lisa (Duane) from Minneapolis, MN, and Emily (Devin) from Durham, NC. Grandsons Leo and Kendall, brother Hal (Jean) from Pine, CO, sister Wilna (Chris) from Sunnyvale, CA, their in-laws, Frank and Jean Pelehach from Sandusky, OH and numerous nieces, nephews and in-laws.

An outdoor candlelight celebration of Marilyn’s life for vaccinated friends of Marilyn and her family will be held on Monday, August 9, 2021 at 8:00 p.m. at Gray Gables, 4105 Oak Ridge Road, Summerfield, NC 27358. If it rains, the celebration will be moved under a tent. Due to the delta variant, all participants are asked to wear masks. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Reading Connections, www.readingconnections.org or the Debbies Dream Foundation, www.debbiesdream.org, in lieu of flowers.

Forbis and Dick Guilford Chapel serves the Pelehach family and online condolences and honors can be found at www.forbisanddick.com.

Published by Greensboro News & Record on August 4, 2021.

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