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Marjorie " Marj" Gilliland
Mercer Funeral Home in Holton
rural Holton , KS

Marjorie “Marj” Lou Gilliland, 90, passed away on Monday, October 2, 2017 at Aldersgate Village in Topeka. She was born on July 24, 1927 in rural Atchison County, the first of three children born to James and Luella Marie (Robinson) Cowley.

She graduated from Atchison County Community High School in 1945. On December 8, 1946 she married Maurice “Mose” Glenn Gilliland at the Methodist Church in Nortonville, KS. He passed away, March 12, 2009. They spent most of their lives on the family farm north and east of Holton.

To this union, two children were born: Gayla Schmanke (Robert) of Olathe, KS and Raney Gilliland (Jill) of Topeka, KS. Also surviving are three grandsons: Brian Schmanke (Terrilyn) of Overland Park, KS, Darin Schmanke (Gretchen) of Overland Park, KS and Asher Gilliland of Topeka, KS. In addition, she is survived by four great-grandchildren: Sydney and Ethan Schmanke of Overland Park, KS and Maya and Nolan Schmanke of Overland Park, KS. She is also survived by a sister: Phyllis Scarlett of Valley Center, KS.

She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother, Ralph Cowley.

Marj had worked for Santa Fe Railroad and had been deputy clerk of the District Court of Jackson County. In addition, she was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Holton and had been a member of the former Wednesday Club, a local Home Demonstration Unit, and had been a sewing leader for the Lucky Stars 4-H Club.

She loved to read and embroider. Of great importance to Marj was that her children and grandchildren acquire college educations. This goal was accomplished with almost all of the degrees being attained at Kansas State University.

Funeral Services will be held 2:00 p.m. Saturday, October 7, 2017 at the Mercer Funeral Home in Holton. Family will greet friends one hour prior to service time. Burial will follow in the Denison Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials contributions to the Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research at Kansas State University c/o Mercer Funeral Home, P.O. Box 270, Holton, KS 66436. To leave a special message for the family, please visit


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