Marilyn Vydra

Marilyn J Vydra

Sunday, June 4th, 1939 - Monday, January 27th, 2020
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Marilyn Joan Vydra (née Grega), was born on a Sunday on June 4, 1939, in Cleveland, Ohio to
Mary (née Goch) and John Grega. Her family and friends lovingly called her “Mare.”

Marilyn was baptized into the Catholic Church and attended St. Catherine’s Elementary School as a young girl.

While attending Hoban Dominican High School, Marilyn became a master orator as a member of the debate team. It was during this time that Marilyn met her husband-to-be, Jim, at a debate tournament. Marilyn often talked about how much she liked his pink shirt and how she “got” him with her famous nut roll. Marilyn was embodied with a significant spunk, even at an early age. When she was a sophomore in high school, she convinced the girls in her Latin class to not show up for it on April Fools’ Day.

Her music teacher in high school, Sister Mary Fracella, O.P., had a significant influence on her life. Marilyn was a delightful piano player … and also played a very mean harmonica!

After graduating high school, Marilyn worked briefly at the Southwestern Bell telephone company.

She was joined in holy matrimony with James Gerald Vydra for 52 years. To this union, six children — yup, ALL girls — were born.

The family moved around the Midwest, following Jim’s job wherever it took them. In Cleveland, Ohio, they welcomed firstborn child Marianne — followed by Lisa one year later. Elaine was born during a brief stay in Madison, Wisconsin. Susan and Sharon were born after the family had relocated to Springfield, Illinois. In 1973, the family settled for good in Springfield, Missouri. Seven years later, Marilyn gave birth to the youngest of the brood, Anne.

Marilyn and Jim proceeded to raise a (very) loud, happy family of six daughters (and countless cats), honorably, with much joy, music, jokes and scotch & water on the rocks every evening at 6 p.m.

Marilyn said many times that her daughters were her greatest achievement. (Her daughters agree.)

After enrolling the Vydra girls into St. Agnes Elementary school, Marilyn took charge of the school library, re-cataloging the entire book collection using the Dewey Decimal System. She created and led Dogwood Council’s Girl Scout Troop 19, displaying the patience of a saint when the Kumbaya song went off the rails to include bodily function references. Her even-temper may or may not have had something to do with the now-legendary (and off-limits) Red Cooler™, always in tow (and likely against all Girl Scout policies) during the troop’s numerous outings at Camp Finbrooke. It often seemed droves of superfluous adults also appeared on those camping trips, also partaking in the mysterious contents of the Red Cooler™.

Adult beverages aside, she orchestrated many badge activities for the girls, including fire-tending, camp-cooking, dishwashing, sit-upon-making, tent-sweeping, s’more-building, and snake-killing with the infamous “snake-hoe.”

Her favorite musical groups included the Percy Faith Orchestra, Four Lads, Four Freshmen and the Kingston Trio. She often filled the Vydra house with the music of the Carpenters, the Mamas and Papas, and the Beach Boys.

Marilyn’s favorite sport was tennis, possessing a wicked, one-handed backhand that led to umpteen Village Green tournament championships. She also enjoyed and excelled at playing bridge, setting up lively neighborhood tournaments that would last into the wee hours. For many years, she was a member of the “Mamas and Papas” bowling team, along with husband Jim and best friends Bill and Dorothy Hyde.

Marilyn found her vocation when she became Communications Director of the Springfield-Cape Girardeau diocese, holding that position from 1981 to 2003. Under the tutelage of her dear friend Sister Emile Morgan, Marilyn became a communications master. She was involved in the creation of a weekly half-hour radio talk show, “Mark TEN,” the first of its kind media venue featuring discussions about current affairs within the diocese. She was ultimately awarded the President’s Medallion by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals for her 22 years of service by a unanimous vote from the Catholic Academy’s Board.

She was a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, where she frequently served as a reader and extraordinary minister.

Marilyn peacefully departed this life on Jan. 27, 2020. She was preceded in death by her husband, James.

She leaves the following to forever hold the memories of her incomparable sense of humor, exceptional social grace (“Would you like some wiiiiine?”), and remarkable work ethic: Her brother Robert (Bob) Grega and his wife Christine (née Verner) Grega; Marianne Vydra and her partner Julie Williams; Lisa Vydra and her partner Angel Kirby; Elaine Vydra, Sharon Wickersham and her husband Paul Wickersham; their children Kelby and Austin McMillen; Susan Vydra-Brown and her husband Kelly Brown; their children James and Louis Brown, Anne Gonsoulin and her husband Paul Gonsoulin, and their most adorable baby, Victor Gonsoulin; along with many aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and countless, dearly treasured friends.

The family would like to expressly thank Integrity Hospice nurses Susan, Amber, and Carolyn whose assistance, grace, kindness and humor transformed an otherwise unbearable journey into a peaceful and enlightening experience.

Memorial visitation will be from 5:30-6:30 pm Thursday, January 30, 2020 in St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 2200 West Republic Rd, Springfield, with a prayer service starting at 6:30 pm.

A Memorial Mass will be at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church on Friday, January 31st at 10:00 am. Inurnment will take place at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in South Springfield Friday afternoon at 3:00 pm.

Should friends desire, contributions may be sent to Integrity Home Care & Hospice at or to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church.

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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Thursday, January 30th, 2020 | 5:30pm - 6:30pm
    Thursday, January 30th, 2020 5:30pm - 6:30pm
    St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church
    2200 W. Republic Road
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    A Prayer Service will begin at 6:30 pm.
  • Service

    Friday, January 31st, 2020 | 10:00am
    Friday, January 31st, 2020 10:00am
    St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church
    2200 W. Republic Road
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    The Most Reverend Bishop John J. Leibrecht
    Father Colby Elbert
  • Interment

    Friday, January 31st, 2020 | 3:00pm
    Friday, January 31st, 2020 3:00pm
    Missouri Veterans Cemetery
    5201 S. Southwood Road
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email

Memorial Program

We have provided a digital copy (PDF) of the Memorial Program that we supply at the time of the service. To Download this file please click the filename below. Marilyn J Vydra - Memorial Program

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Private Condolence

Ruth Sterling

Posted at 07:18pm
My deepest condolences to the "Vydra Girls" and their families. And may our Lord comfort you during this most difficult time. Your Mom now lives in your heart until you are united with her in Paradise.
With deepest sympathy,
Ruth Sterling

Carolyn Skinner

Posted at 08:38pm
Carolyn Skinner. Integrity Hospice CNA
I visited Marilyn at least twice a week. I was saddened to hear about her passing.
The time when I had seen her she would not let me leave out the door to my next job without a hug and saying,
love you kid. Then she would slip a piece of chocolate candy in my hand and tell me be safe.
She always made me feel welcome. What a "Special Lady" and she will be missed.
Carolyn Skinner

Paula Ringer

Posted at 04:37pm
Marilyn was steadfast in her faith and possessed a wicked sense of humor, and her ability as a listener made her a great friend for so many of us. "May the Angels guide you and lead you into paradise."
She will be missed, but the best thing we can all do is carry the love forward she shared so beautifully. Paula Ringer

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