Marlene Bacon

Obituary of Marlene L. Bacon

A wonderful and unique woman left this earth to entertain heaven with her piano and her music.

Marlene “Molly” Louise Bacon of Lansing passed away unexpectedly on January 14, 2019, surrounded by her family after 82 incredible years.  Molly was born on December 1, 1936 in the small town of St. Johns, MI to Edward and Margarette (Woodruff) Ernst. She was raised there amongst many relatives, and graduated from Rodney B. Wilson High School in 1954.  Although Molly moved from St. Johns in 1956, throughout the many years she lived, her heart and her mind never left that town.  Very close relationships were maintained with childhood friends (the “Hen Party”) over her entire life.  Up until her last days, if anyone ever wondered about someone or something in St. Johns, she usually had the answer. 

When Molly did leave St. Johns, it was to work for the State of Michigan at the Lewis Cass Building in Lansing and later at the State Secondary Complex in Dimondale.  She retired after many years of service.  During her early days working there, she met her future husband and was married in 1957.  They relocated to Lansing’s west side to raise their six children in the Catholic faith at St. Gerard Catholic Church.  Like so many other moms at St. Gerard back then, she threw herself headlong into the workings of church and school.  Whether it was attending Sunday mass with her family, volunteering for school events, donating craft items for church fundraisers, baking treats for classes, helping lead the Women’s Follies, or being a longtime member of the Women’s Guild (serving as President for one year), she helped out at St. Gerard wherever she could.  Molly intertwined family, church, and school together as one—teaching her children life lessons that reverberate to this day.

“Nana Bacon” was the family matriarch.  A great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother.  In simplest terms, a Mom to all.  As such, her family was most important.  Though older and frailer, she always maintained family traditions including Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations at the home where her children were raised.  She loved her siblings, maintaining the close family bond with her brothers (Ed and Chuck), and especially her sister (Jan) whom she forever called “Peewee” due to their nine year age difference.  The extended family members were very dear to her as well.  Even in her 80’s, she still attended all the family reunions, and effectively badgered her children to do the same.  She cherished spending time with her many nieces, nephews, and cousins.  

After her family, Molly’s love was for music.  She was a piano player most of her life, doing her first paid dance job at age 14.  Thus, many folks all over Michigan knew her through her piano.  The list of places Molly played is almost endless.  Whether it was playing dance jobs with good friends Doris Z and Bob Hubbard, playing for weddings at the MSU Alumni Chapel, accompanying dance classes at Lansing Community College, doing “sing-alongs” on St. Patricks Day at The Antlers in Sault Ste. Marie or on the weekends at Pappy’s Pizza in Lansing, playing at the Demmer get-togethers, playing Little Tim’s Cabaret in Potterville for the McNamara family, accompanying the local barbershop quartet, participating in various jam sessions with other musicians, or just singing/playing along with her grandkids, Molly was happiest at the keyboard.  Her children vividly remember how, back in the 1970’s, she led a “ragtag” group of St. Gerard Follies/Guild ladies in the “kitchen band”—where instruments were made from recycled Wisk bottles, kazoos, washtubs, broom handles, clothesline, and washboards.  They practiced at the Bacon home, making all kinds of noise and wearing crazy, old-fashioned costumes.  It wasn’t what one would call the best sounding music, but it was hilarious even to little kids and left a mark!  Molly’s children also remember fondly the years she volunteered to play with Teresa Lud during school music classes where classmates sang the St. Gerard school song along with many others together as one.  Molly felt honored to be the organist at the Bretton Woods Covenant Church of Lansing for almost 30 years, and took pride in being a part-time organist at St. Mary Cathedral of Lansing for over 20 years.  She thoroughly enjoyed her years playing at Horrocks on Lansing’s west side, as there were so many folks she knew who shopped there and it was fun.  If you walked in and your foot started tapping or it was a song you knew from childhood, that was Molly playing.  This love of music was shared with her family, and several grandkids gravitated to the performing arts as a result.  In fact, almost every family gathering had at least one episode where Nana and/or grandkid would sit on the piano bench to bust out the songs.  It was always a good time.

Molly was “crafty,” a gift instilled during her youth.  She enjoyed bestowing homemade birthday cards, doilies, card baskets, candle holders, and wreaths to her family and friends, which many treasured as keepsakes.  Nana’s perfect oatmeal-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip cookies (an old family recipe), snickerdoodles, and lemon squares were a fixture on the dessert table at most family gatherings to be savored by all.  She always made time for, and took the effort to attend, grandchildren’s school plays, musicals, concerts, and ceremonies—right up until she passed—even though some were many miles from Lansing.  Nana’s attendance brightened the faces of all the family members involved and was really a vivid example of what she felt was important and who she was as a person.  Others came first.  Her frank words of wisdom, Can and Will Do attitude (no matter what!), master organizational skills, relaying of family/community-related news, knowledge of the family history, and accurate memory of the smallest details in all her family members’ lives will be sorely missed.  Molly was a faithful servant to family, friends, and the community she lived in.  We will miss her dearly. 

She was preceded in death by her parents.  She is lovingly remembered by children Tom (Roni) Bacon of Lansing, Jim (Loell) Bacon of St. Augustine, FL., Jeff (Cheryl) Bacon of Williamston, Steve (Karie) Bacon of Haslett, Betsy (Steve) Potter of South Lyon, and Amy (Todd) Vanderbur of East Lansing.  Also surviving are 15 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be 4-7 PM Sunday, January 20, 2019 at Tiffany Funeral Home, 3232 W. Saginaw St., Lansing, MI 48917.  Funeral Mass will be 10:30 AM Monday, January 21, 2019 at St. Gerard Catholic Church, 4437 W. Willow Hwy., Lansing, MI 48917 with a luncheon following.   In lieu of flowers, the family asks for folks to donate to the St. Gerard music program as it was always dear to Molly’s heart. The family is being served by Tiffany Funeral Home.  Friends may visit the guest book at 


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