Marcel D. Hammer Lillig, 94, of Cedar Rapids died on Sunday, September 1, 2019 at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids of heart failure. Crypt-side services will be held at 3:00 pm on Saturday, September 7, 2019, at the Cedar Memorial Park Mausoleum. Friends may call at the Cedar Memorial Park Chapel Mausoleum in the Corridor of Hope, Elite Room after 2 pm on Saturday, September 7, 2019. Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Survivors include a son, Ken Anthony Lillig, of Cedar Rapids, and a daughter, Kay Delores Lillig Cotter of Bloomington, Minnesota. She is also survived by two grandchildren, Daniel Cotter and David (Danielle) Cotter, a great granddaughter, Daisy Marie Cotter, and a great grandson, Dylan Anthony Cotter.
Marcel was a wonderful daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend. Her family and friends all thought she was very special. She was loved very much by Floyd (1927 – 2017), who was her husband for 66 year and her adoring children, Kay and Ken, and the Cotter family in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Marcel was born September 11, 1924 in Mount Ayr, Iowa in the home of her grandparents, Edgar and Sylvia Smith, three weeks premature, weighing 5 pounds fully rolled in a blanket. She was the only child of Joseph Dale Hammer and Goldie Marie Smith Hammer. They left immediately and went to Grant City, Missouri for 9 years, then returned to Mount Ayr in 1933 when her grandparents died to live in the family home.
While growing up, her favorite toys were her tricycle and red wagon. As a child, she enjoyed chasing lighting bugs and fireflies in the backyard with neighbor children. She enjoyed the Bobbsey Twins series of little books. Her pet goat’s name was Nanny, that lived in the lot next door. She enjoyed the radio shows, Amos and Andy, Burns and Allen and The Jack Benny Show. TV was not available until Marcel was grown up. Marcel described her one special memory of her mother was she was very protective and always near to give Marcel a secure feeling.
Her favorite subject in school was history and her least favorite was math class. She participated in school plays and earned an award with honors in instrumental music. At Mount Ayr High School, she was in marching band, concert band, and clarinet quartet. The quartet won the Iowa State Title two years in a row in 1941 and 1942.
In 1942, she went to Caster’s Beauty Academy in St. Joseph, Missouri and earned a six-month degree in Cosmetology. In 1943, Marcel and her mother moved to Des Moines, Iowa. She entered Thompson School of Cosmetology in Des Moines and with an additional six-months received her Iowa License of Cosmetology. She worked as a beauty operator in downtown Des Moines for one year.
In 1944, she and her mom purchased a small beauty salon near Drake University in Des Moines and operated it for one year. In 1944, she started classes in American Institute of Business (AIB). The owner asked Marcel to work at the front desk at AIB. She took classes in shorthand, typing and math for a secretarial position. At AIB, she was a member of Alpha lota International Honorary Business Sorority. In 1947, AIB featured her career success using the American business way in their Des Moines Register advertisement entitled “Marcel Goes to Town.”
1946 – 1948, she got a job in the Iowa State Capitol working as secretary for Governor Robert D. Blue, until his term expired. Marcel still had the original carbon copy of the letter she typed from Iowa Governor Blue to U.S. President Harry Truman on October 17, 1947 about appointments to government committees. In 1949, she worked for Iowa State Senator X. T. Prentis from Mount Ayr. He hired Marcel as his secretary for his first legislative term.
In 1949 – 1950, she worked as a purchasing agent at Drake University for over one year, when Marcel met Floyd Lillig at Tromar Dance Hall in Des Moines on October 2, 1948. Marcel married Floyd on November 12, 1950 at University Christian Church in Des Moines and honeymooned in Missouri. They moved to Cedar Rapids, where Floyd had secured a position as an engineer at Iowa Manufacturing Company. Floyd excelled as an engineer, while Marcel excelled as a homemaker.
They had two adoring children, Kay and Ken. She was a homemaker. She was active in the school PTA and led both Blue Bird and Camp Fire Girl weekly meetings. Kay, Ken, and the neighborhood children remember her driving them to swimming lessons, movies, school activities and other fun activities in her 1957 red and white Rambler station wagon. Her children know how lucky they were to have such a wonderful mother. Every week day, she served a home-cooked dinner for her family shortly after 5 pm when Floyd arrived home from work.
Marcel enjoyed bowling on a women’s bowling league during the school year and during the summer with Floyd on a husband and wife team league. She vacationed with her husband at his cabin on Hansen Lake, Ontario, Canada, several times. And, planned and organized several family driving vacations around the country, including Chicago, Springfield, Illinois and Hannibal, Missouri in 1961, Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills in 1962, New York City World’s Fair in 1964, Memphis, New Orleans and Pensacola, Florida in 1966, The Straits of Mackinac in the peninsula of upper Michigan in 1967 and Dallas, San Antonio and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in 1968.
She loved to play cards with her family. And through the 1980s and 90s, she and Floyd made many trips to Las Vegas enjoying shows, Blackjack, Bingo and Vegas buffets. She loved to laugh and enjoyed the company of their Iowa Manufacturing couple friends, with whom they shared many good times for over 50 years. As a daughter, Marcel personally provided many years of compassionate care for her mother and father-in-law when they needed it most.
Honorary pall bearers are Ken Lillig, David Cotter, Daniel Cotter, David Leemans, Jeffery Leemans, Ronald Leemans, Doniel Leemans and Jeffrey Melsha.
Marcel was surrounded by her loving family during her last days and was able to participate in the early celebration of her 95th birthday. For Marcels 50th high school reunion, she wrote “We really have much to be thankful for. It has been a good life for us.”