Marcella Winona Wheaton
May 5, 1932 – January 9, 2020
Marcella Winona (Carlson) Wheaton passed away on January 9, 2020 and is absolutely delighted to be square dancing once again in her new home. “Marti” (to anyone who knew her) was born in Ogden, Iowa on May 5, 1932 to Clifford Franklin and Edith Elizabeth (Anderson) Carlson. Both of her parents were of Swedish descent. “I never learned the Swedish language, which is a shame,” Marti lamented. “It put me at a disadvantage whenever my parents would speak Swedish when they didn’t want us to know what they were talking about.” Growing up in Farnhamville, Iowa, Marti was active in 4-H and raised calves to show at county fairs. She confessed, “I cried every time I sold one of my calves.” Like most rural children, Marti earned money by “walking beans” and detasseling corn in the summer. It was a happy childhood; however, country living was not for her, so, as a young adult, Marti moved to Sioux City, Iowa where she attended Morningside College and earned a degree in music education. “I didn’t necessarily want to be a teacher,” said Marti, “But, in those days, women were teachers, nurses, or secretaries. That was it.” In the end, Marti taught for only three years before moving on to other things. During the autumn of 1953, Marti met Jim Wheaton while at a roller rink in Sioux City. She always liked to say, “Jim and I met at a roller rink and have been going ‘round and ‘round ever since.” Within a few months of their meeting, Marti and Jim were married in Gowrie, Iowa on March 28, 1954 and remained married for 65 years. In 1956, Marti and Jim moved to the Kansas City area, finally settling in Independence, Missouri in 1965 where they raised their two children, Loren and Laura. Marti was a working mother all her life. Staying at home just didn’t suit her, which she discovered within three days of giving birth their first child. Jim arrived home from work to find Marti crying. She explained, “I had received so many annoying calls from salespeople, I just wanted to go back to work.” Being a working mother, however, didn’t make Marti any less devoted to her family. She sat through never-ending dance recitals, taxied her children to various activities, and sacrificed her skin (turning beet red) while boating on the lake during the summer to be part of her children’s lives. She loved her family. In 1967, Marti jumped at the chance to learn computer programming. (Keep in mind, this was when a single computer filled a whole room and code was entered using punch cards.) Marti wrote in that year’s Christmas letter, “It’s not the easiest course I’ve ever taken—it seems these computers are rather complicated.” (Little did she know the trials and tribulations she’d experience with personal computers and cells phones just a few years later.) Marti was a computer programmer for many years with AT&T, the Marine Corps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and she enjoyed the challenging work. Marti didn’t have any hobbies per se, but she did like to travel. Upon retirement, she and Jim travelled abroad, including trips to England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Germany. They even travelled to Marti’s ancestral home, Sweden, where she still didn’t know what anyone was saying. (Jag älskar dig, Mamma! ) Marti and Jim travelled within the United States as well. Not only did they spend their summer vacations travelling the country in a van with parents and children in tow, but they also travelled through all 50 states—except Alaska—on their motorcycles … after retirement! That’s right. In her 50s, Marti got her motorcycle license. No more scenic views of the back of Jim’s helmet for her! She became a Motorcycle Mama! Vroom. Vroom. Marti also enjoyed square dancing. She and Jim belonged to the Silver Shoes square dance club for more than 40 years. Much to her dancing daughter’s amusement, Marti even tried her hand at ballet (which lasted a couple months … or was it a couple days). More than anything though—second only to family—Marti loved politics. That was her bailiwick. She was a member of the League of Women Voters most of her life and served as president at the local level for many years. Marti could be counted on to tell friends and family to get out and vote. Family member even relied on her to tell them how to vote. (No need to read through all that material when Marti’s around.) Marti loved political debates, senate hearings, and 24-hour CNN. In her mind, there was no other television channel. She was a CNN addict! However, since she wasn’t hurting anyone, the family saw no need for intervention. Smart, strong, and sometimes quirky, Marti was a role model for women—particularly working women—of her era. We will miss her February “Christmas” letters, her green bean casserole (which goes with everything—Mexican food, Chinese food, Indian—you name it), her phone calls about the dang computer (“I don’t know what happened; the document just disappeared”), and her feet encased in thick, woolen socks even during the summer.
League of Women Voters of Kansas City
PO BOX 10416, Kansas City, Missouri 64171
- Memorial Service Sunday, January 12, 2020
Marcella Winona Wheaton
Alice & Leo Bray
January 12, 2020
So sorry for your loss. I will remember Marti for her dedication to the choir, seeing her at church and the times at Hy-Vee coffee gatherings. May she rest in peace.
Becki (Carlson) Christensen
January 12, 2020
My family and I are thinking of Aunt Marti and her family with sadness, but also with fond and lasting memories. We spent more time with Jim and Marti in the last several years, when they joined us in our family gatherings. As we read about her life, the women in our family recognize where all our boldness and strength probably genetically came from!
Wishing her family peace and comfort, love and support.
Becki and family.
January 11, 2020
What a lovely and fun obituary for Marcella. She definitely was a role model for me, her niece, throughout my life. What a spectacular lady and I feel fortunate that she was a part of my life. My family and I are thinking of the Wheaton family and send our love from North Carolina. The state where Marcella always donated money to whoever was running against Jesse Helms for our Senate seat. All that can be said is, What a lady! Moni Bates