For nearly 100 years Marjorie Eikenberry Neff graced this Earth with her sparkling spirit, leaving her glow behind when she died on Saturday, August 10, 2019, at her home in Granville.
Marjorie (also often called Margie, Marge, and Marny), the only child of Claude Fawns and Rachel Thomas Fawns, was born in West Middleton, Indiana, on Christmas Eve of 1919. Because her father was a Methodist minister who was frequently transferred from one church to another, Marjorie lived in a variety of communities in Indiana throughout her childhood. But a sense of home was found on Lake Webster at Chatterbox Cottage, a very special place that was built by her father when Marjorie was just five years old. It was also on Lake Webster that she met her first handsome and exceptional husband, Merlin “Ike” Eikenberry on a very fortuitous blind date on the Dixie, a vintage paddlewheel boat. In 1949, they moved to Granville, where they raised four children: Sherri Nilson, Karen Povec, Jan Carlson, and Steve Eikenberry. After Ike’s death, Marjorie was blessed with a second charming and loving husband, Richard “Dick” Neff, who brought into the family circle his three daughters: Susan Blue, Martha Kessler, and Jane Norton. As well as enjoying her sons- and daughters-in-law, Marjorie delighted in her 16 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Marjorie’s loving and dedicated caregivers served as an extended family to her. Always an animal lover, Marjorie is also survived by two—sometimes three—stray cats and flocks of wild birds, all of whom she fed daily, as well as several persistent and gregarious raccoons and a couple of scruffy possums, who eat whatever is left over.
Granville was a better place because of Marjorie’s involvement in the community. She was active in the Centenary Methodist Church, Granville Music Club, PTA, TWIG, and Town & Country. She attended endless sports events, saying that much of her social life was involved in some way with a ball. But she also brought smiles to the faces of all those she remembered with birthday and get-well cards, sending out hundreds over the years, not just to close friends but also to those who might otherwise have been forgotten. Arguably, Marjorie made the best pies in Granville, and she often shared those as well.
A magical fusion of her Kentucky hill-country father and her proper British and Welsh mother, Marjorie was a beautiful woman, inside and out. While she loved fashionable clothes, painted her toes red, and enjoyed getting “gussied up,” she knew that love is what makes someone truly beautiful. As one family friend said, “She epitomized grace and elegance with just the right amount of sass and spunk. She was a class act!”
Marjorie’s family will always cherish the myriad of ways she enriched our lives by sharing her playful sense of humor and light-hearted view of the world, taking us to church and Sunday school every week, being as excited as her children about the first snowfall of the year, insisting that swimming and playing the piano were mandatory life skills (and correcting our “off” notes when we were practicing), teaching us the difference between a house wren and a sparrow or a brown thrasher and a swallow, making travel a more important investment than a new refrigerator, helping put worms on our fishing hooks and teaching Steve the secret of catching turtles, playing Nat King Cole and Glen Miller on the hi-fi, accepting an offer of a glass of champagne with “Shoot, why not?” tucking us into bed and saying our prayers, adopting dogs, cats, chickens, ponies, a horse, lambs, hamsters, and more than a few injured wild creatures, being the midwife for our ponies when they were foaling, making homemade ice cream, reminding us that “It’s a mark of leadership to adjust,” sending prolific and beautifully written letters, playing Christmas music all day starting on Thanksgiving evening, rocking our babies and singing lullabies with a look of pure joy on her face, admonishing us that “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all,” teaching us not to postpone pleasure and to eat dessert first, and modeling what it means to be an extraordinary parent.
A memorial service and celebration of Marjorie’s full and beautiful life will be held at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Granville on Saturday, September 28th at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that you “don’t postpone pleasure.” Spend undistracted time with your children, take a walk in the woods with your loved ones, send a birthday card or bake a pie for someone who needs it, and make a toast to enduring friendships, lifelong and beyond. That is what our mom would wish for you.
To send flowers to Marjorie's family, please visit our floral section.