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Marilyn Prouty, an only child, loved having a big family

Marilyn Prouty, an only child, loved having a big family

From the Iowa Mourns: Around the state series
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After growing up an only child, Marilyn Elizabeth Prouty knew she wanted a big family — a dozen children, to be specific.

She almost met her goal, having 11 children over two decades — the oldest born in 1949 and the youngest in 1967.

"It ended up being a lot of work, with all those kids running around," said her son, Michael Prouty.

Her 11 children are now scattered — one son lived with her in Marion until she needed more help than he could provide, some stayed close to the Cedar Rapids area and others ventured outside Iowa. But, no matter where they laid their hat, Marilyn’s children always knew they had a home with her.

After a fierce four-day battle with COVID-19, Marilyn died on May 25 in Cedar Rapids. She was 92 years old.

Born in 1927, Marilyn grew up "spoiled rotten" in Marion. Although her parents doted on their only child, Marilyn still managed to be a hard worker, Michael said.

She worked as an operator at Marion Telephone Co. and became its youngest supervisor ever at age 18. While at the phone company, she met Daniel Prouty, her future husband.

Marilyn stopped working around 1956, after the couple had a half-dozen kids, and devoted herself to being a full-time mother, Michael said. For 36 straight years, the Prouty house was filled with children’s voices.

Not only did Marilyn cook and clean, but she also valued education and a smart turn of phrase, and was a stickler for grammar. She would often tell her kids, “There ain't no such thing as ain't,” Michael remembered.

After her children grew up and left the house, Marilyn finally got more time for herself.

In 1980, she visited Russia, fulfilling a lifelong dream. And, about 10 years later, at the age of 63, she got her driver’s license.

If her nose wasn’t stuck in a good mystery, she was volunteering as a Boy Scout den mother or a Bluebird leader, or doing what she could to help at the veterans hospital in Iowa City.

"She lived a full life," Michael said.

Iowa Mourns is a series of remembrances about Iowans who lost their lives to COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. If you've lost a loved one to COVID-19 in Iowa, let us know by filling out this form or emailing Iowa Columnist Courtney Crowder at

Robin Opsahl covers trending news for the Register. Reach them at or 515-284-8051.


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