Marlene Virginia Zeiler | Obituary

Marlene Virginia Zeiler passed away peacefully, on September 17th, 2022, at the age of 88.

Marlene was born to William and Lyla Jean McClain (Pense) in Bonesteel, South Dakota on February 28th, 1934. Marlene would spend many of her younger years on the Pense family farm in Bonesteel with her grandparents Celestia and Seburn Pense along with her aunts and uncles. Her grandfather and uncles were quiet, gentle men and they doted on Marlene in the absence of her father. Later in life, Marlene would speak lovingly of her aunts and uncles and the caring they showed her as a child.

Following World War II (1945), Marlene now in her early teens, would move with her mother to Tacoma, Washington. Here, she would attend and graduate from Lincoln High School. Upon graduation, she entered the workforce in order to contribute to the family household.

Marlene would meet the love of her life Leo, while stationed at McChord Air Force base in Tacoma. A crash rescue firefighter, Leo would soon be deployed to Korea, Japan and the Azore Islands. The two would be married on April 1st, 1955, while Leo was on a 2 week leave.

Soon after, the couple moved to Blytheville, Arkansas, where Leo finished the last several years of his military service. Marlene and Leo then returned to the Pacific Northwest and began raising a family in Puyallup, Washington. Family was everything to Marlene and she put all she had into being a wife, homemaker and mother.

When her children were ready to enter college, she returned to work, taking a position in the Registrar’s Office at Pacific Lutheran University. Here she worked for 14 years, making many lifelong friends and completed her career at PLU as Secretary to the Dean of the School of Nursing.

In their retirement years, Marlene and Leo enjoyed being part of their Card Club and the many friendships therein. Travels included visiting Leo’s sister’s and family in Missouri, cruises, and trips to Reno and Maui.

Marlene’s faith was important to her and she was involved in various women’s groups and Bible studies at Bellevue First Presbyterian Church. She would later volunteer at the church’s Eastside Academy in Bellevue – a school for high school age children, struggling to fit into the traditional public school setting. Here her special ability to communicate with young adults really shined.

Marlene’s vision for her her family came together in annual family retreats to Whidbey Island, where the entire family (her 3 children, their spouses and grandchildren – eventually 6 in all) gathered for a week of living together, sharing meals, swimming, fishing, campfires, building forts on the beach and drinking coffee and wine on the bulkhead. This tradition continued for 22 years.

Marlene is survived by her husband Leo of 67 years, 3 children, Randy and wife Gaerda, Rodney, Sherry and husband Joe and six grandchildren, Nate, Brita, Alex, Tyler, Kieran and Ian.

A Celebration of Marlene’s Life will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, November 12th at Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, Washington (425) 454-3082. Please feel free to wear color, as Marlene loved color!

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Eastside Academy at

Please include Marlene’s name in the memo.