In Memory

Marilyn Drolen (Haefelin)                                    
Marilyn R. Haefelin, 74, of Peoria, IL, passed away surrounded by her family on Saturday, February 1, 2020, after a courageous battle with cancer.

She was born to parents Mildred and Whitey Drolen, May 22, 1945 in Chicago, IL. Marilyn graduated from Rockford East High School in 1963, received a BA in Education from the University of Illinois in 1967, and a Juris Doctorate from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1985.

Marilyn was married to her husband Joel for 53 years. She is also survived by her two children: David (Christine) Haefelin of Chicago, Beth (Matthew) Mock of Cherry Valley, and her two grandchildren, Nathan and Joshua Haefelin. She also leaves behind beloved sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, a host of dear friends, and her loyal dog Calvin.

Marilyn had the most generous heart. Her kind heart was evident in all that she did from her career choices as a teacher and lawyer to being a wife, mother, and friend. She began her career as a teacher in 1968, but this was short-lived because her first child was born soon after and she wanted to be a full-time mom. As a mom, her infectious spirit, smart-as-a-whip humor, and generous heart allowed her children to discover for themselves their direction and passions in life.

While her children were growing up, she not only gave her generous heart to her family and friends but to the community in which she lived. Marilyn was a founder of Women Strength (Center for Prevention of Abuse), a board member of the Girl Scouts of America, and an active member of the Junior League of Peoria. It was this involvement that led Marilyn to law school. After receiving her law degree, she worked as a lawyer for ten years. At the end of her law career she was a champion of the disenfranchised, working with the ACLU, as well as women and prisoner’s rights groups. Throughout her journey, her loving husband Joel was by her side, supporting her, encouraging her, and making her laugh.

After retirement and her grandchildren were born, Marilyn turned her focus to family and travel. She loved to take family trips, especially cruises. She loved seeing the world and sharing that experience with those she loved. Even after she was diagnosed with cancer, one of the first questions she had for the doctor was, “Can I still go on my trip with my family to Australia?” The answer to that was yes, she went and loved every minute of it.

Marilyn was the rock of our family, and she was the glue that held all us together. She taught all of us how to live, laugh, and most of all, love. Her generous heart will be missed.

A visitation will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2020 from 3-5pm with a memorial service to follow at 5pm at the Wright and Salmon Mortuary.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers that people make donations in support of her many causes: Center for Prevention of Abuse, PAWS Animal Shelter, or the Illinois Cancer Care Foundation.

Friends may sign the online guestbook or send condolences at

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02/14/20 04:20 PM #1    

Jim Duhigg

Marilyn and I attended school together from kindergarten until graduation.  She was a kind and caring classmate and neighbor.




02/15/20 10:02 PM #2    

Eugene Robinson

I don't remember all of my East High classmates, but I certainly do remember Marilyn Drolen well. She always wore a smile on her face, and treated me and all others that I witnessed, with a lot of love and respect. So, it goes without saying that losing any member of the Class of 1963 is bad enough, but the loss of Marilyn, whom I have not seen in many, many years, is a loss that "hit close to home" with me. May she Rest in Peace, and GOD Bless- Gene Robinson

02/16/20 11:16 AM #3    

James Wales

Marilyn was as beautiful inside as she was outside.  I remember her as a cheerleader at Lincoln as well as at East. I also went out with her for a few months my junior year and had some great times.  It sounds like she lived a t great life and will be missed by her whole family.

Jim Wales

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