Family and friends are mourning the loss but celebrating the life and memory of Marilyn A. DeLand, 93, who died Thursday, Feb. 25 at Reflections Memory Care in Savoy, Illinois.

Hers was a life that spanned 11 decades and six generations of family. It was filled with joy and laughter and success, but also with challenges and tribulations. She faced them all with strength and perseverance, independence and resilience.

That is who she was. Marilyn was enormously proud of her extended family and their accomplishments, fiercely loyal and never judgmental. She was unwaveringly supportive and steadfast in her love.

Marilyn Arline Swartswalter was born March 5, 1927 at Burnham Hospital in Champaign, Illinois, the first child of Mabel and Harry Swartswalter. She grew up in Sidney, Illinois, in an austere household during the midst of the Depression. Marilyn took great joy in music, studying violin and playing drums in the Sidney High School band. She also began a 75-year career of singing alto in the Methodist church choir.

She had several jobs while working her way through the University of Illinois, graduating in 1951 as the first person in her family to earn a college degree. She met Lynn DeLand through a Methodist church youth group, and they were married Dec. 30, 1951 at First United Methodist Church in Champaign.

Immediately after their wedding and honeymoon trip to New Orleans, Lynn was shipped off to serve in the U.S. Navy for two years during the Korean War. Marilyn continued to work during his tour of duty, then began her own tour of duty as the mother of Dave, Rob and Janet on an Illinois journey that took the family from Decatur to Champaign to Mascoutah to Monticello.

Marilyn was a stay-at-home mom for much of that tour, but she also had her own life. She was patient and supportive of her kids, reveling in their successes and maintaining her support when they occasionally did something dumb. She took immense pride in their academic, professional and familial accomplishments. She also took joy in little things: music, reading, gardening, ice cream, popcorn and “The Carol Burnett Show.”

She fulfilled a lifelong desire to travel internationally after the death of her husband in 2001, joining friends from her church group on extended excursions to the British Isles, Europe and Scandinavia. She took train trips through the Canadian Rockies, cruised the coast of Alaska, and joined her kids on birthday trips to Puerto Vallarta, New Orleans and San Francisco. She continued to travel into her mid-80s.

Marilyn also enjoyed crafting (cross-stitch, ceramics), sewing, involvement with church groups (she served as secretary or treasurer of almost every organization she was in), and watching Illini basketball games with son-in-law Mike Ruckman.

She is survived by her three kids and their spouses: Dave DeLand (Dana Drazenovich) of St. Cloud, Minnesota; Rob DeLand (Sue Irion) of Chicago; and Janet Ruckman (Mike Ruckman) of Monticello; seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband Lynn (Feb. 7, 2001) and brother Blaine Swartswalter (1992). The family is planning a private memorial celebration in the spring.

In lieu of flowers (which Marilyn would have considered a waste of money), her children would encourage everyone to make charitable donations in her memory to worthwhile causes – food shelves, women’s shelters, or anything that would contribute to the general good.

There could be no better tribute to her lasting legacy.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

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