Ernestine Marilyn Gaines

January 23, 2024 (age 83) 83 Years Old
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Ernestine Gaines Obituary

Ernestine Marilyn Gaines, fondly known as Marilyn to family, friends, and co-workers, was born to Rev. Ernest Wakefield Stevens and Elsie Laverne Howard in Cleveland, Ohio on April 2, 1940.   She was the youngest of five children born to the couple.  Marilyn was the beloved sister of Ernest Jr., Gloria, Elsie, and Joyce.  She graduated from John Adams High School in 1958.  Marilyn married Melvin I. Gaines on March 14, 1959.  The couple divorced in 1980.  Two sons were born from this union: Melvin Ernest Gaines, and Kevin Kelly Gaines. 

After graduating and getting married and starting her family, she worked for Ford Motor Company in its Lincoln-Mercury Division for over 30 years.  She started as a keypunch operator and finished her career as an administrator for the dealerships handling logistics and delivery of vehicles all over the mid-West region.  By the late 1980s, the Ford corporation’s difficulties during a time of recession and downsizing required Marilyn to relocate several times, first to Cincinnati, then to Wixom, Michigan, and finally Detroit, in order to keep her job.  On the eve of her retirement, her job responsibilities had increased considerably.  She lived in Ohio and Michigan and retired in Northfield Center, Ohio.

Throughout these years until her retirement from Ford in 1997, and for many years afterward, family was an anchor for her.  She lived for her family, loved ones who were never far from her mind as she commuted between her workplaces in Michigan, and home in the Cleveland area, where she spent most weekends.  She loved sending out birthday cards and holiday greetings to members of her immediate and extended families, often including thoughtful little notes.  She enjoyed hosting family gatherings bringing together her father, siblings, nephews and nieces, and cousins.  Perhaps the horrific experience, when she was just a teenager, of watching helplessly as her mother Elsie, just 42-years-old, succumbed to heart failure during an asthma attack solidified Marilyn’s belief in the importance of family.  Marilyn was a loving and devoted daughter to her father, who passed in 2007.  She was in constant touch with her sisters, her brother, their spouses and children.  She had close, loving ties with members of the Gaines extended family, her brothers and sisters-in-law, their spouses, and their children.  To her nephews and nieces, she was fondly known as Aunt Marilyn or Aunt BeeBee.  Her grandchildren knew her as Grandma Marilyn or simply, Nana.  Family, in the most expansive sense, was everything to Marilyn.  Through her generous, open-hearted spirit and beaming smile, Marilyn made a deep, unforgettable impression on all of those who knew her.  

She enjoyed music, singing, and dancing as well as movie nights at home.  Motown and its many artists were a particular favorite.  She was an avid roller skater as well.  Marilyn was a caring and supportive mother to her sons.  In her own way, Marilyn was a chronicler of her life and times.  She was deeply interested in Black American history and saved news clippings and magazines that recorded major historical events.  When not reading the newspapers, or taking care of her pet dogs, she spent a great deal of time listening to music and watching and listening to her favorite television and radio programs, including Oprah, history documentaries on PBS, sermons by Rev. Frederick Price and others, news reports offering the latest research findings on diet and healthy living, and live concert performances and music videos by Michael Jackson and other artists. 

Sadly, during her later years she battled Alzheimer’s and dementia, but she was moving and active during much of that time.  Even as her illness deprived her of her most cherished memories of family, she remained a beautiful person, inside and out.  At a certain point, Marilyn’s speech trailed off and her verbal communication turned almost fully into a tuneful, wordless humming.  She would sing to others, and to herself, as if she were hearing music.  During the pandemic, Marilyn made a full recovery after becoming seriously ill with the Covid virus. Gloria Daniels of Forest Hills Place was her devoted attendant at that time. Marilyn was adored by many of the people who cared for her in several facilities. She finished her days at Harvard Gardens.  The staff there took her into their hearts and often mentioned her vibrant personality as she was lively and energetic to the very end.  They all gave her excellent care and will miss her, as well.

She leaves behind to fondly remember her sons Kevin K. Gaines (Penny Von Eschen) and Melvin E. Gaines (Lynn), sisters Elsie D. Peterson and Joyce Teamor, grandchildren Maceo, Bradley, Allison, Alisha and Terence, great grandchildren Marley, Gabriel, Kelly, Tessa, Mackenzie, and Bailey and a host of other extended family, nieces, and nephews.

Preceding her in death were Rev. Ernest W. Stevens (father), Elsie L. Stevens (mother), Gloria L. Stevens (sister) and Ernest W. “Sonny” Stevens Jr. (brother). 

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February 16, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
E. F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home and Crematory - Warrensville Heights
25900 Emery Road
Warrensville Heights, OH 44128

Celebration of Life
February 16, 2024

11:00 AM
E. F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home and Crematory - Warrensville Heights
25900 Emery Road
Warrensville Heights, OH 44128


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