Marilyn Rothwell

Lonedell resident Marilyn Rothwell has spent decades volunteering for local organizations and at age 81, she’s still at it.

Rothwell is originally from Trenton, Ill., and before moving to Franklin County, she studied accounting at McKendree University. She then worked for what was called Western Electric in the accounting department for 12 years in St. Louis.

It was at Western Electric where she met her first husband, Clarence Woodruff, who was a stock maintenance supervisor. They married in 1968 and together had three children. Woodruff had three children from a previous marriage.

Woodruff was originally from St. Clair and when he retired in 1983, they moved to be closer to his family. Before they permanently moved, they would spend weekends in the St. Clair area camping and spending time outdoors in the warm months, she said.

While living in St. Clair, Rothwell became involved in the VIV Club for 15 years. The purpose of the club was to organize and hold a Mother’s Day plant sale every year with proceeds going to community organizations.

“We would raise like $4,000 in three days time,” said Rothwell.

The club ran from 1964-1993 and she served as the secretary and president. Rothwell recently donated photo albums from the VIV Club to the St. Clair Historical Museum.

“It shows some of the most prominent people here in St. Clair who were in that organization,” she said.

In addition to the VIV Club, Rothwell was a room mother for special education students at Edgar Murray Elementary in the mid-1980s.

“I went there for every holiday and decorated the room and brought food,” she said. “That was fun.”

In 1995 Woodruff died, and in 2009 she married Ralph Rothwell. Her second husband also had three children from a previous marriage. They moved to Lonedell and worked on a log cabin together.

Ralph also was involved in the community as he was a member of the St. Clair Lions Club.

“When I married Ralph, he introduced me to Meals on Wheels,” Rothwell said.

After more than 20 years of delivering meals for the Meals on Wheels program for the St. Clair Senior Center, she still makes deliveries a few times a week.

“I love meeting the people who I deliver the meals to and I’ve become very close to them,” she said. “I like to visit with them even after delivering meals. It just feels good.”

Church Work

When she was married to Woodruff, she was involved with the St. Clair United Methodist Church. Rothwell said she would collect food donations and supplies at the church for the Agape Food Pantry once a month. After leaving the church when he died, she collected donations on her own for the Agape Food Pantry.

Since she is originally Catholic, Rothwell currently helps out with drives for a women’s shelter, My Life Medical and Resource Center through the St. Francis of Assisi. She added that the shelter is always in need of baby clothes, food and supplies.

“I go down to Cape Girardeau any chance I get and I hit all of the thrift stores and buy baby clothes. I just load up my car and bring it up here,” Rothwell said.

“Every church I’ve belonged to I get involved in all of their workings.”

Additionally, Rothwell was on the Catholic church’s council for two years and is a monthly lecturer.


She and her late husband Ralph belonged to the Farmers & Merchants Bank Travel Club where they met Jack Bielefeld and his late wife.

“Both of our mates died and we both stayed with the travel club and pretty soon we went together,” Rothwell said.

They have been dating since 2010 and Bielefeld is a St. Clair Lions Club and Elks Lodge member. She added that she got him involved with the Meals on Wheels program.

In her free time, Rothwell said she likes to play golf and that she used to bowl.