Marilyn G. Spainhower Overbaugh

1930 - 2022 

Marilyn Overbaugh, a pianist and organist, provided worship service music in the Seventh-day Adventist church for over seventy years. Although mostly self-taught, she possessed a natural musical gift that she frequently acknowledged as a gift from God, one that  enabled her to inspire congregations as they worshiped and to musically assist at weddings and funerals.

Marilyn was born on July 30, 1930, in Denver, Missouri, the oldest of five children born to Welbie (Web) Roy and Goldie Pauline Kerns Spainhower. She and her siblings grew up in a home where music was a central part of their lives. The Spainhower family had an aptitude and natural ear for music. Her father and his brother had both sung on the radio, and when her two brothers were older, they sang with their father as a trio, while Marilyn accompanied them on the piano. The result was a home filled with the sounds of hymn singing and playing.

The family moved as needed during the trying times of the Great Depression so that the father could work as a carpenter. Marilyn attended Platte Valley Academy in Nebraska until the end of her junior year and then transferred to Auburn Academy when her parents relocated to Yakima, Washington, in 1947. During her time in academy she started playing piano and organ for services and accompanying soloists at school.

After her senior year at Auburn Academy in Washington, she moved to Pendleton, Oregon, where her parents had just relocated. She met Lewis Overbaugh at that time and they married the following year, on August 7, 1949. They lived in Pendleton until they eventually relocated to the Walla Walla Valley in Washington, in 1957, where they were living when he died on April 15, 2001 and she died on April 15, 2022. 

As she had in the Pendleton church, Marilyn played for the College Place, Washington, SDA Village Church services, for over forty years, until her retirement.  She recorded three records/CDs and played in other churches in the valley and for weddings, funerals, and other services and occasions. 

One of her favorite activities was playing piano and organ duets with her sister, Dona Klein, who has been associated with the Kenneth Cox Ministries as their organist for many years. At a recent marriage ceremony in 2020 that I attended, they provided a seamless flow of music together, playing by ear, each guided only by a handwritten listing of eighteen songs and the key they would be played in. The result was an impressive and sensitively played service.

Marilyn was living n College Place at the time of her death on April 15, 2022. She is survived by her sister Dona Klein; daughters Patricia Gabel, Lori Walker, Kathy Iwasa,  and son Robert; nine grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. 


Source: Interview with Marilyn Overbaugh, November 2010; Obituary, Walla Walla Union Bulletin newspaper, April 24, 2022, 9A. Gleaner, July/August 2022, 50.