Cover photo for Marilyn J. Quam's Obituary
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1948 Marilyn J. Quam 2023

Marilyn J. Quam

March 23, 1948 — September 25, 2023

El Paso

Marilyn Joyce (Bohn) Quam was ushered into the presence of the Lord after passing away peacefully with her family by her side at 9:31 am on September 25, 2023, at Carle BroMenn Regional Medical Center.

Marilyn was born on March 23, 1948, in Emmetsburg, Iowa, the daughter of Russel and Verna (Matthiesen) Bohn. She took her place as the youngest sibling to two older brothers, Ramon and Dale, whom she adored. She often told stories of growing up on the farm with her brothers, the fun she had with her cousins and grandma, and the tales of surviving the cold Iowa winters.

Marilyn attended Ayrshire High School, where she excelled academically and was first in her class.  She also began her love for athletics by participating in basketball and her love for music through playing the piano. 

The Bohn family attended Curlew Baptist Church with the Quam Family who had eight children. She met her future husband, Fred Quam, in the Sunday School classroom. Fred and Marilyn started dating as teenagers and were united in marriage on August 29, 1969. Marilyn often reminisced and laughed uncontrollably about the adventuresome early years of their marriage. They finished their college degrees and then embarked on a honeymoon road trip out west in Fred’s Brown Dodge Charger. They bought their first home together in Ruthven, where they scraped by to purchase one of the last Christmas trees on the lot that year on the 24th of December. It was a corner tree . . . because it didn’t have branches on all sides.

After a few years, growing careers, and Christmas trees with all four sides, Fred and Marilyn grew their family in Iowa and moved a few times within the state as opportunities arose. After 5 years of marriage Marilyn’s oldest daughter, Shelly, was born, followed by Sherry thirteen months later. A few years later Brian joined the family. Forty years later, Marilyn would continue to tell the story of how the church bulletin misspelled Brian’s name in the birth announcement . . . as Brain, a nickname her older brother, Dale, made sure haunted her for decades. 

In 1985, the Quam’s took the opportunity and tough decision to leave the familiarity of Iowa and make a big move to what seemed like a foreign land and faraway place called Illinois. Living east of the Mississippi River only increased Marilyn’s passion and dedication to The Iowa Hawkeyes, the same team her own father religiously cheered for. 

As Marilyn was able to watch her kids graduate from high school, college, and move into their careers, she welcomed two sons-in-law, Steve Haase and Michael Taylor, and one daughter-in-law Christy (Thomas) Quam with open arms. They brought great joy to her life as she made them a part of our family as if they were her own.

Marilyn had many loves, hobbies, and projects. She could be found tending to her lilies and iris - most originating from her own mother’s flower beds in Iowa. She was an avid researcher of her and Fred’s genealogy. She spent years creating meticulous records, photos, and binders for each of her children to enjoy. She documented and saved important stories, memories, and games that her parents, grandparents, and great-parents shared with her.

Out of all of these activities, her greatest joy was living life with her seven grandchildren; Madeline (Zach), Sydney, Anna, Sabin, Laney, Caroline, and Andrew. It was rare for her to miss flute recitals, volleyball, baseball and basketball games, show choir concerts, marching band competitions, fencing matches, prom-dress previews, and graduations. Grandma spent countless hours playing Yatzee, Uno, Skip-Bo, Old-maid and Phase Ten with her grandchildren. As an Early Education teacher and an avid reader, she made reading a priority with her grandkids and was determined they would each be ahead of grade level when they set foot in school for the first time. For twenty years now, at Thanksgiving, Marilyn hosted the much-anticipated gingerbread house making extravaganza in her kitchen - even virtually during COVID. This tradition will continue.

At an early age, Marilyn committed her life to the Lord by accepting Jesus as her Savior. Every aspect of her life reflected this. She was a dedicated servant at every church she and Fred attended in Iowa and Illinois. As a pianist, from a young age until a few years ago, she could be found at the piano every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Awana on Wednesdays. In her home, Sunday mornings were musical as she’d complete an entire practice run-through of the hymns she was scheduled to play that day. Marilyn was passionate about her Baptist hymns starting and staying at a lively time-and-a-half pace.

For the last few decades, she was a member of Community Bible Fellowship (CBF) in El Paso where she devoted her life and time to creating and organizing their children’s church curriculum. A teacher at heart, she had closets full of Bible story lessons, corresponding worksheets, and crafts for Sunday mornings at least three months ahead of schedule. She especially loved the Sundays when her grandkids would come into her Sunday School class and help as her teacher assistants.

In August of this year, Fred and Marilyn celebrated 54 years of marriage. These two farm kids from Iowa were constant companions while they faithfully led their family. They loved tackling projects together and pointing their children and grandchildren to the Lord on a regular basis by exhibiting true servant hearts. Rarely apart, each modeled complete dedication to each other in their own way for over six decades. 

Fred and family are at peace knowing that Marilyn is with her Heavenly Father and confident that they will see her again. She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers,  Ramon and Dale.

Her celebration of life services will be held at CBF at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 5, 2023. Pastor Glenn Matlock will officiate. Her family will greet friends from 4:00-7:00 pm on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, at Ruestman Harris Funeral Home in El Paso. A private family interment will be at Evergreen Cemetery in El Paso.

Memorial contributions in her memory may be directed to Community Bible Fellowship or The El Paso Library.

Online condolences may be sent to her family at
To send flowers to the family in memory of Marilyn J. Quam, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, October 4, 2023

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Ruestman Harris Funeral Home - El Paso

40 West Main Street, El Paso, IL 61738

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Celebration of Life

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Community Bible Fellowship

1131 IL-251, El Paso, IL 61738

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