Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

Marilyn Mills


Marilyn Johnette Ekdahl Belmain Mills, 82, passed away on March 13, 2017, while wintering in Salome, Ariz.

Marilyn was born in Rawlins, Wyo., on October 30, 1934, to George Edwin Ekdahl and Cora Mae "Corky" Foster Ekdahl. She was born a third generation resident of Carbon County. Her great-grandparents came to Carbon, Wyo., in 1898.

Marilyn graduated from Rawlins High School in 1953. She owned and operated Green Acres Kennels from 1968 until 1994. In 1973, she attended grooming school in Littleton, Colo. She dedicated her life to kids and kritters. She had a great love of books, history, and teaching family members about life. She traveled the world, first with her parents and then with her children and grandchildren. Each child was awarded a trip for graduating from high school and then college. She also took her great-grandkids on trips, visiting Wyoming and nearby states. 

Marilyn called many places home but her soul belonged to the Red Desert, where she spent her life hunting, fishing, camping, riding horseback, exploring, rock hunting and volunteering on archeological digs. She took this love of adventure with her wherever she traveled. She took up black powder shooting and riding 4-wheelers and she loved spending her summers following grandkids on the rodeo circuit and to sporting events.  Marilyn was like a dog; rattle car keys and she was ready to go.

Marilyn started her young adult life as a Camp Fire Girls leader and served on their council for five years.

In 1964 Marilyn became a 4-H leader and remained a leader for thirty-three years. She started the 4-H dog project in Carbon County and started the dog project at the state fair. She was superintendent of the state fair dog show for eight years and superintendent of Carbon County dog show for 33 years. During this time, she also helped to organize state 4-H dog workshops. She judged dog shows around the state and still traveled with grandkids as they began judging the same shows. She was recognized as the 4-H leader of the year in Carbon County in 1983 and was elected to 4-H Congress and traveled to Chicago in 1984.

Marilyn was also a member of the Historical Society, Rawlins Saddle Club, Past President Rawlins Archeology Society, Past Queen and Past Guardian Jobs Daughters Bethel #3, Rawlins, and Past President of the Humane Society.

Marilyn married Jack Belmain in 1953, they were divorced and she married Delmar Mills in 1974. Del died in 1993. She became reacquainted with her high school sweetheart Donnie Bonnette. Marilyn sold Green Acres Kennels and moved to the Wind River Canyon to live with the love of her life. She and Donnie traveled in an RV to Arizona and other places. Upon his death in February 1996 Marilyn downsized to an Alaskan camper on her pickup. She traveled and lived in the Alaskan, spending parts of her summer in the Wind River Canyon.

In 2008 she began wintering in a small RV at Snowbird West Campground outside of Salome. In 2014, she said goodbye to her "turtle shell" and retired the worn-out Alaskan.

Marilyn is survived by four daughters, Jaci (Steve) Howieson of Baggs, Teri (Bruce) Schwindt of Laramie, Toddi (Allen) Darlington of Thermopolis, and Traci (Reagan) Cooper of Pavillion; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; numerous step children, step grandchildren and step great-grandchildren; and friends who called her mom and grandma. 

She is preceded in death by her parents; brother Lee Ekdahl; husband Del; and best friend Donnie.

A Celebration of Marilyn's life will be held on Friday, March 31 at 5 p.m. at Carbon County Fairgrounds exhibit building. In lieu of flowers donations in Marilyn's name may be made to either the Shriners Children's Hospital or Carbon County 4-H Foundation.



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