By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer
Friends and family described her as determined, caring and even-tempered. She was a tomboy in youth and a superb cook in her later years.
On Oct. 29 Marilyn Tyson of Clovis died at Plains Regional Medical Center after a short battle with cancer. She was 72.
Tyson was born Oct. 31, 1931 in Chanute, Kan., but the family soon moved to Pueblo, Colo., when her father was transferred there with his railroad company. She grew up in the early 1940s with her younger sister, Margie Tyson, at her side.
“Marilyn being older, and being the tomboy, I was always embarrassing her in front of her friends,” the younger sister said.
All the children in the area were Marilyn’s age, and their mother would make Marilyn take her little sister out to play. Margie said one day the neighborhood kids were squaring off in a game of kick the can, which Marilyn was pretty good at. When it was Margie’s turn to kick the can she whiffed.
“She was so embarrassed in front of all her friends,” Margie said. “Here was her dumb little sister who couldn’t even kick the can.”
After Marilyn graduated from high school, she packed headed to California, where she started working in the hospitals in Santa Monica. She began as a secretary for the doctors, and over the course of 40 years climbed her way to become purchasing agent of a pathology lab, her sister said.
She retired in 1993 and return to Clovis to be with her family.
“This was a new experience for her coming from California, which she was very anxious to get out of, because it was so huge, and the traffic, the people, and the earthquakes,” Margie said.
She purchased her own home in Clovis, but the two sisters found themselves eating dinner together and hanging out much of the time. In childhood they were sometimes at odds. In retirement they grew to be close friends and eventually built a home together, she said.
“We decided that was kind of silly to have two homes,” Margie said.
Family friends, Julie and Tony Angle, recalled a banquet dinner where they shared a table with the Tyson sisters. New to the area and unfamiliar with Mexican food, the Angles were served Chili Relleno. Tony started in on the pepper, swallowing pepper, sauce and stem. The sisters cracked jokes about that until they became known as the “hot pepper girls.”
In late August, Marilyn was having some back pains, but didn’t suspect anything serious. Eventually she went to a doctor, who concluded she had cancer, and it had spread.
“The hardest thing for me right now is going to work, coming home and she’s not here. It just seems right now like its a bad dream and I’m going to wake up,” Margie said. “I’m very thankful she didn’t suffer more than she did.”
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