Marcelyn Peterson Wittorff
Marcelyn Delores Wittorff, 92, passed away on August 2, 2023, at Pleasant Hills in Hutchinson,
She was born to George and Ilene (Burgess) Peterson on November 8, 1930, at the Little River
Hospital. The third of six children, she grew up on farms in Rice and McPherson Counties. She
attended one room schools, Alpha and Hopewell, and graduated from Inman High School in
1948. The Peterson kids were a close-knit bunch who enjoyed being together and having fun
with plenty of laughter to spread around. Marcelyn, Phyllis and Kathleen were (and still are)
often referred to as “the sisters,” even as they raised their own families, and they welcomed
their sisters-in-law, Audrey and Elaine, into the group.
Marcelyn was active in 4-H as a girl, winning a number of awards at both Rice and McPherson
County Fairs. Through 4-H she learned food preparation and clothing construction skills and
even met her future husband. Marcelyn went with another Inman area 4-H member to 4-H
Roundup in Manhattan the summer before her senior year in high school. Driving the 4-H
members was Arnold Wittorff, who had also been active in 4-H while he was in school and
continued working with the local clubs as a very young adult leader. He took Marcelyn home
last, asked her out on a date, and it was the start of a life-long love story. They were married on
September 11, 1949, at St. Peter’s Evangelical and Reformed Church (now St. Peter’s United
Church of Christ) and had celebrated 62 years of marriage when Arnold passed away in 2012.
In the year between high school graduation and her marriage, Marcelyn worked as a telephone
operator and then as a clerk at a grocery store. Arnold and Marcelyn made their home on the
farm two-1/2 miles west of Inman where they grew crops, built a registered Polled Hereford
cattle herd and raised their children. The young couple made it into a home they were proud of,
keeping the buildings and yard neat as a pin. Carolyn and Larry will tell you that meant not only
mowing the seemingly vast lawn but also painting the fences around the cattle pens and barn
whenever the farm was a stop on the summer Kansas Polled Hereford Tour. Arnold and
Marcelyn were named the McPherson County Farm Family of the Year in 1996.
The cattle were a focus for the family with most vacations when the children were growing up
connected to Polled Hereford events. When Arnold was the Secretary/Sales Manager for the
Kansas Polled Hereford Association, Marcelyn served as the backbone in keeping minutes and
financial records. The kids got involved making it a family affair in sending out newsletters,
working the sales desk at state-wide auctions and answering the “association” phone. Marcelyn
was active in the women’s branch of the association, the Kansas Pollettes, serving in leadership
roles. Marcelyn and Arnold made many life-long friends through the Polled Hereford
Association and had great pride in their herd bloodlines.
Marcelyn continued with her 4-H involvement through her children, serving as an adult leader
in the Lucky Leaf 4-H Club in Inman. It even led her to claim the Best of Show Grand Champion
yeast rolls at the Kansas State Fair in 1962. Marcelyn has been known to say that she only
entered the rolls because they were already going to Hutchinson with Larry and Carolyn’s 4-H
projects, and she wanted to make the trip worthwhile.
Marcelyn was the bookkeeper for the farm and kept meticulous records even after she and
Arnold retired from active farming and moved to town. She used those skills when she began
working in the business office at Conklin Cars in Hutchinson after her children were in high
school. She was a valued employee and loyal -- only driving Buicks from then on.
Marcelyn loved to entertain. Nothing made her happier than setting a pretty table with her best
china, glasses and flatware. When the children were still in elementary school, she and Arnold
would invite their teachers to an appreciation dinner at the end of the school year, after the
final grades were in. The kids remember these occasions as a really big deal when they were on
their best behavior, especially since Carolyn knew she might get Larry’s teachers two years later.
Marcelyn was a great hostess. Even later in life when the menu might be carry-in pizza, she
made sure her guests had everything they needed.
Marcelyn and Arnold square danced for a number of years with the Lads and Plaids Square
Dance Club in McPherson. She also loved to play cards. Sunday night pitch games with the
family were a highlight. Even after moving into an apartment at Pleasant View Estates, she
played cards regularly with a group of friends. A loyal Kansas State University fan, she loved
following what K-State was doing from athletics to academics and from research to extension
and wore her purple proudly.
One of Marcelyn’s great joys was watching her children grow into adulthood and establishing
their own households. She and Arnold became involved in a number of new experiences while
supporting their children and grandchildren including volunteering for Dick Nichols’
Congressional campaign, traveling to national conferences across the country, attending events
for K-State Alumni Board member guests and going to grandchildren’s activities. She especially
enjoyed the holidays with the grandkids, and later the great grandchildren. Learning that her
first great grandchildren were going to be twins was very exciting, and she and Arnold went to
Topeka to see them the day after they were born.
Another priority in Marcelyn’s life was her church. Again, using her financial recordkeeping
skills, she served in many capacities and offices on the St. Peter’s church board including
treasurer and memorial fund chair, and for the local and regional Women’s Fellowship, and
helped with the Ground Hog Supper. The communion with church members was very
important to her.
Marcelyn led a full life and had many opportunities for travel (particularly to Branson, MO) and
unique experiences, but she always knew where her center was. In her own life reflections she
wrote, “It’s good to get away, but it’s always good to come home.” Marcelyn is now in her
Marcelyn leaves behind her son Larry and wife Kathie, Derby, KS, her daughter Carolyn Jackson,
Arlington, VA (Washington DC Metro area); grandchildren: Mindy (Travis) Maurath, Topeka, KS;
Brett (Ashley) Wittorff, Derby, KS; great-grandchildren: Tyler and Blake Maurath, Topeka, KS;
sister, Phyllis Knackstedt, Inman, KS; and many nieces, nephews and extended family members.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Arnold, her parents, three brothers: LeRoy,
Kenneth and Jim Peterson; her sister and brother-in-law Kathleen and Dale Zimmerman, her
sisters-and brothers-in-law Gene Allen Knackstedt, Audrey Peterson, Elaine Peterson, Louise
Janssen, and Erwin and Geneva Wittorff.
Memorial contributions can be made to St. Peter’s United Church of Christ or the Kansas 4-H
Foundation Arnold and Marcelyn Wittorff Family Leadership Fund in care of Inman Funeral
Visitation will be held 5-7PM Tuesday August 8, 2023, at St. Peters United Church of Christ, Inman.
Burial will be at 10:00 AM on Wednesday, August 9 at North Inman Cemetery and a Celebration of
Life service at 11:00 AM at St. Peters followed by lunch.