Members of the Edith B. Hokanson American Legion Post No. 253 in Marquette have a hard time naming all the activities Marilyn Hendrix helps with.

Members of the Edith B. Hokanson American Legion Post No. 253 in Marquette have a hard time naming all the activities Marilyn Hendrix helps with.

"She's very active in what she does, she makes quilts and schedules everything for us," said Kirk Young, commander of the American Legion in Marquette.

Don Lundquist, adjutant for the Marquette Legion, said Hendrix has helped the post keep a visual record of their activities in pictures.

"Marilyn's just everywhere you need her," Lundquist said. "She's a female Johnny on the spot."

Hendrix was awarded the "Shining Star" leadership award from the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Kansas in May in recognition of her more than 20 years of volunteerism.

Born and raised in Marquette, Hendrix grew up in a house across the street from the schoolhouse and later moved with her family to a house in the country that had no bathroom or running water, but did have electricity.

"When you're young enough, you survive," Hendrix said.

Her father worked at the grain elevator, and her mother, who died of cancer when Hendrix was 23, was often ill.

"Were things tight? Yes, they were," Hendrix recalled. "But you learn you don't need a lot of things."

Hendrix met and married her husband, Lew, in McPherson. When he became eligible to join the Legion, she encouraged him to join the post in Marquette, knowing that they needed more members. Soon, her husband volunteered to serve as post commander, a position he would hold for 20 years. Hendrix served alongside her husband as president of the Auxiliary.

Through it all, Hendrix always had her camera, taking pictures of birthdays, holidays, parades, families, events, memorials, scholarship presentations, pancake feeds and lamb fries.

"Pictures are good," Hendrix said. "I like to do it because I think people need to know what Marquette is. We're not a little podunk place; we've lost our schools, but we still make sure we are involved with our kids."

Getting children involved in the American Legion as junior members is a particular passion of Hendrix, who started taking her own granddaughter to events when she was two years old.

“We're working on the kids, we really are," Hendrix said. "I have 15 junior members...they do things together."

Hendrix’s work has not gone unnoticed.

"She gets [the junior members] to help with a lot of things; they put the flags out on Memorial Day," Lundquist said.

"You don't turn down a volunteer," Hendrix said, adding that, regardless of age or membership, "anybody can help, we don't care. You've got to involve your families."

Hendrix said she enjoys the feeling of giving to others and that the Legion offers a good opportunity for fellowship.

"I think that we need to support our Legion," Hendrix said. "I love the Legion, I want to make sure our veterans and our servicemen are appreciated, they need prayers. Trouble is, the older guys have died. We need new guys, younger people, and I hope that that will happen."

Hendrix is also a member of the GALs War and Peace Quilters that produce quilts for veterans, those in active military service, chaplains and children in need.

"We were up here when the national commander came in; we were able to give him a quilt," Hendrix said

The GALs did the same for the national vice commander and state commander of the Legion.

"It's just like the church — we're all working for the same place. The Legion, the VFW, they're both working for our veterans," Hendrix said.

A member of Trinity Lutheran Church in McPherson, Hendrix said she was thankful to be living in McPherson and that she has lived on the same lot for over 50 years.

"My neighbors have been there...over 40 years. Do we like the neighborhood? Yes, we do. [McPherson] is small enough. I like the people, and I'm very lucky to be living where I am. The neighbors are more like family," Hendrix shared.