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Obituary of Marynell Dyatt Reece

As if emphasizing one of the foremost priorities of her life, Marynell Dyatt Reece died on July 4, 2016. Kansas and the nation lost a dedicated patriot and tireless worker for the values she firmly believed in. Born on April 6, 1920 to Verne and Nellie Taylor Dyatt, Marynell spent her early years in Kanorado, Kansas, and always treasured the vast golden wheat land of western Kansas where she returned almost every summer for harvest on the high plains. Somehow, her death at harvest is itself a statement.
Marynell loved the University of Kansas and the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She spent her freshman year at the University of Colorado but transferred to KU for the remainder of her college years. She majored in journalism, participated in Jay Jaynes, was a Panhellenic officer, and led students in many other organizations. At KU, she met and fell in love with H.W. (Bill) Reece, the son of a highway contractor from Scandia, Kansas. As World War II loomed over the KU campus, Bill and Marynell were married on May 20, 1942 in the Presbyterian Church in Lawrence. Bill then immediately shipped out as an ensign in the US Navy. Marynell followed him from Neah Bay, Washington to Miami Florida and other ports between until her beloved brother, John Taylor Dyatt, was killed in an aircraft accident in England. She returned to Kanorado to be with her parents until the end of the war.
When Bill returned from the Navy, he joined his father and brother, Jack, in the highway contracting business. Bill eventually returned to Scandia, Kansas, where he and Jack built one of the most successful highway contracting businesses in Kansas: Reece Construction Company. Marynell became an active participant in the business and a leader in the Scandia community. She served on the local school board during a very difficult period of reorganization and consolidation of school districts in Kansas. She was a lifelong member and active worker in the United Methodist Church in Scandia where she was famously willing to sponsor the youth group for rowdy teen-agers for many years. She was the Scandia church's delegate to the Annual Conference for many decades. She belonged to Sorosis Study Club, Chapter BM of PEO, Kansas Republican Women, and a host of other community and philanthropic organizations. For her service, she was named Kansan of the Year in 1991 and received both the Distinguished Service Citation and the Ellsworth Medallion from KU.
Marynell's lifelong commitment was to government that served the people of Kansas. She was the Republican National Committeewoman from Kansas for many years. During that time, she served on several convention site selection committees, on the Executive Committee, and was vice chairwoman during the turbulent challenges of the Watergate era. She was proud to serve in several important national campaigns, most notably those of Senators Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum Baker. She was once quoted as saying that she "never believed that politics is a dirty business--if conducted properly, politics is the business of a free people".
Above all, Marynell was fiercely devoted to her family. As the mother of four girls, she stimulated, inspired, challenged, and cheered them to undertake careers and life patterns that were far ahead of her time. She truly believed and relentlessly modeled and encouraged her daughters and the many women she touched to seek new heights of achievement and service.
Marynell was a Jayhawk who served her University in many capacities. She was a member of the KU Endowment Association Board of Trustees. She served on numerous boards and campaign committees and hardly ever missed a meeting of any of them.
Marynell was a lot of fun. She loved attending KU athletic events stretching from shortly after World War II until the year of her death. She loved the family's cabin at Lovewell Lake, where three generations of the family have waterskied endlessly, kept the Kansas beef industry in business, sailed and sunk scoreless water vehicles, lit up the skies with fireworks, and made a lifetime of memories. In a likely gift from God, she spent her last holiday weekend there playing with the newest generation of great grandchildren.
Marynell is survived by her four daughters, Deanell Reece Tacha, Jane Ann Reece Ewy, Saralyn Reece Hardy, and Mary Lou Reece; their husbands John Tacha, Ken Ewy, and Scott Jones; and 14 grandchildren: John Reece Tacha and wife Ryann, David Andrew Tacha and wife Diana, Sarah Tacha Bergman and husband Joel, Leah Tacha Kenealy and husband Sean, Jennifer Jane Davenport and husband Shane Mahoney, Christopher Reece Davenport and partner Clayton Scherf, Casey Ewy and husband Oscar Montenegro, Greg Ewy and wife Sara, Stephen Reece Hardy and wife Kathleen Ryan, William Renfrow Hardy and wife Brooke, Thomas Carl Hardy, Jameson Reece Jones and wife Malena Wiggin, Marynell Taylor Popst and husband Reese, and Arthur Dyatt Jones and wife Rebecca. Great Grandmother Marynell was blessed to welcome 15 great grandchildren in whom she delighted. She is also survived by one cousin, Lynn Dyatt of Colorado Springs, Co.
Just as the fireworks spin skyward and the harvested wheat provides new life, the life of Marynell Dyatt Reece gives energy to our lives. We are confident that she is welcomed into a new and nourishing life where she is no doubt preaching the importance of good government, women's opportunities, and good Kansas values.
Funeral services will be held at the Scandia United Methodist Church in Scandia, Kansas at 10:00 am on Saturday, July 9. Interment will follow at the Riverview Cemetery, Scandia, KS. Friends may call at the Bachelor-Surber Funeral Home, 324 Kansas Ave, Scandia, KS, from 1 PM until 9 PM on Friday.
Memorial contributions may be made in her memory to the Scandia United Methodist Church or the KU Endowment Association for the Spencer Museum of Art.
Online condolences at www.
Bachelor-Surber Funeral Home, Scandia, KS is assisting the family with the arrangements.


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