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Marlene Oberföll McKinnis Passed Away on March 22, 2024

By the family

March 27, 2024: Marlene Oberföll McKinnis was born on June 20, 1939, in Cologne, Germany.   She lived her formative years in Düsseldorf, Germany with her mother and younger brother, Klaus.  Her father was conscripted into the German Army, served on the Eastern Front and ended up in a Russian prison camp.  Somehow her family survived WWII Germany and the difficult reconstruction.

Marlene left home at age 18 to work in London for a law firm that represented Jewish clients seeking restitution from Germany for losses incurred during WWII.  During this time, she learned English in a language school run by Cambridge University and worked long hours providing translation and paralegal services.  At the age of 20, she moved back to Düsseldorf to work for a travel agency which allowed her to fly to many parts of the world.

During one of her trips, Marlene visited a friend in Barcelona and was attracted by the Spanish language and culture.  She decided to leave the Düsseldorf-based travel agency to attend The University of Barcelona to study Spanish. 

Outside of her studies she kept busy as a part-time accountant and visited the wonderful cities of Spain.  After receiving a Spanish language diploma, she landed a job with Panair do Brazil (later Varig), the Brazilian airline, where she ended up becoming a travel agent with routes in Latin America and Europe.  This position allowed her to travel throughout South America, which she did enthusiastically.

During her time with Panair, Marlene arranged a trip to the United States, where her first stop was to visit a German relative in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  The relative introduced Marlene to her future in-laws, who were so enthralled with Marlene, that they asked her to meet their son, George, when she visited New York City. 

Marlene and George immediately felt a connection on their first date in NYC.  Marlene soon thereafter moved to NYC and found a job on the Rotterdam, part of the Holland American Cruise Line, and travelled on that ship throughout the Caribbean. 

When Marlene was not cruising the Caribbean, she spent her free time enjoying NYC’s museums and cultural diversity.  She also enjoyed her time dating George and visiting his group summer house in Quogue, Long Island and his group ski house near Sugarbush Resort in Vermont.  During this period Marlene continued to pursue her education and earned a BA at New York University.

Marlene decided to settle down in New York City and left her job with the Holland American Cruise Line, and started working as an office manager for one of George’s clients, which led her to being granted a US Green Card.  Later in her life she proudly became a US citizen. 

Marlene and George were in a long-distance relationship at the time because George took a job as a Solicitor to an Anglo-American merchant bank headquartered in Nassau, Bahamas.  Marlene soon thereafter moved to Nassau and they were married at The Royal Nassau Sailing Club on September 16, 1972.  They subsequently moved back to NYC to start a family. 

Marlene had their first child, Alexander, in October of 1975. A few years later their second son, Marc, was born in March of 1977, at which time they decided to move to the New York City suburb, Bronxville.

In Bronxville, Marlene and George raised their two boys at 40 Oriole Avenue, a wonderful street with great neighbors, while participating in community events.  Marlene was an amazing mother and caregiver for her boys. 

Marlene also loved befriending international people in the Bronxville community and helped organize many multi-cultural events.  She kept busy with The Bronxville Working Gardeners Club (for which she was President twice), arranging hosting of AFS students, playing tennis and doing water aerobics at The Bronxville Field Club, and organizing Bronxville School events. 

Marlene and George celebrated their 50th wedding Anniversary with friends and family in their 12 Locust Lane garden in 2022. 

They have made many wonderful friends in their Locust Lane and Wood End Lane neighborhood that have become family to them over the years.

During her later years, Marlene was an active member of multiple bridge and book clubs and enjoyed entertaining in her 12 Locust Lane garden.  As she aged gracefully, she never lost her wanderlust, and desire to experience new and exciting things.  At the age of 71 she went sky diving off the coast of North Carolina with her daughter-in-law at her son Marc’s wedding and at 80 she went paragliding above the German Alps during a family holiday.  Last year, Marlene traveled by herself to Germany to see her German family, friends and to experience her childhood city, Düsseldorf.

Marlene is survived by her husband of over fifty years, George McKinnis; her son Alexander and his wife, Susan; her son Marc and his wife, Lara; her two grandchildren, Jack and Sadie; her sister-in-law Sarah Fambrough; her niece Susan Fambrough, and daughter Anne Estelle; her nephew John Fambrough and his wife, Sandy, and son Josh Hitt; her relatives in Düsseldorf; sister-in-law Rebecca Oberföll; and niece and nephew, Sophie and Max Oberföll. Marlene will be missed dearly by her husband, sons, grandchildren, relatives, friends far and wide, neighbors and community for her nurturing, caregiving, loving and maternal nature.

There will be a Memorial Service for Marlene at the Bronxville Reformed Church on Saturday, April 27, 2024 at 10:00am, and a reception thereafter at the Bronxville Field Club.  All are welcome to join the family in celebrating her life.


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