Skip to content

Moments in Time

Kathleen Marnhout Foley shares more of her memories.

By Eugenia Jones

The 1950s-Raising
Children, and of course, Elvis

Kathleen and Bill welcomed sons Michael and Gary in the l950s and Randy in the early ‘60s. As they raised their children, Bill continued with his education at the University of Kentucky, and Kathleen worked as a registered nurse (RN) at Good Samaritan in Lexington.
“Bill was wonderful with the children,” Kathleen recalled.
Elvis Presley’s breakout year in music was 1956, and Kathleen remembers how he rocked the world.
“Everyone was rocking, rolling, twisting, and turning,” Kathleen said with a laugh. “Everyone went nuts when Elvis hit the United States and in other countries. I was pulling in our driveway when Elvis came on the radio. When we finally got to see him on TV, I was like everyone else! He was so handsome and the moves he made! Elvis wasn’t just rock music though, he brought us gospel and country. I liked that he was so devoted to his mom.”
From the ‘60s to the Early ‘80s-The
McCreary Co. Funeral Home Becomes
a Reality

Kathleen was always very close to her younger sister, Maxine.
“When Maxine was born, she was so beautiful,” Kathleen recalled affectionately. “I held her in my arms even though I really didn’t think we needed more babies!’
Kathleen was proud of Maxine for furthering her education.
“Maxine lived on cheese and crackers while she was going to embalming school,” Kathleen shared. “I remember when she called me and asked if we could build a funeral home. Neither of us had a nickel! I came back to McCreary County and went to the President of the bank-C.C. Shepherd. I asked him to write a letter of recommendation for us to get money from the funeral home association in Louisville. He did us one better by going to Louisville with me. Of course, I got the money when I had the president of the bank with me! C.C. told someone that he felt like he had to go to Louisville because he knew Maxine and I were going to do it one way or the other. I guess he knew we were just that determined! Although we got eighty percent of the cost from the funeral home association, we still had to come up with twenty percent for our part. We didn’t have a penny between us. All we had was faith, hope, and prayer.”
Fortunately for Kathleen and Maxine, Drex and JoAnne Campbell came to the sisters’ rescue. Maxine, who worked as a hairdresser, was JoAnne’s hair stylist. From that connection, Drex signed a note at the bank for the $20,000.
“We got the money and paid him back in a timely manner,” Kathleen declared.
Once the money for construction was secured, Oscar Worley got busy building the McCreary County Funeral Home. Kathleen and Bill Marnhout and Happy and Maxine Jones served as the four corporate members.
When the funeral home was ready to open, the owners hosted an Open House. Kathleen remembers Happy Jones wanting to display a casket during the event.
“I thought that was a little much,” Kathleen remarked. “I prayed about it. Happy eventually decided it would be better to display an arrangement of flowers.”
During the early years of the funeral home, Kathleen and Bill lived in West Virginia. While there, Bill worked with Ashland Oil, and Kathleen worked as director of nursing at Reynolds Memorial. She then helped break the glass ceiling for women by becoming an administrator of West Virginia’s Pleasant Valley Hospital. She was one of the first two women hospital administrators in the state. The Silver Bridge disaster that occurred in December of 1967 tested all of Kathleen’s skills as an administrator and leader at Pleasant Valley. With no precedent for such a disaster, Kathleen acted with authority and compassion as the dead and wounded began arriving at her hospital.
“I made a lot of trips back home when the funeral home was first formed,” Kathleen noted. “But still, I held a full-time job and never missed work.”

Leave a Comment