Marjorie Reich Dietrich, 91, passed away peacefully at her home at Claridge Court on
Saturday, June 25, 2016.
Marge was born on January 18, 1925, the only child of Edith Renick Reich and Walter
August Reich. Her grandparents were Meta Mathilda Reich and Stefan August Reich,
and Mary Polfer Renick and William Richards Renick. Until her move in recent years
with her husband to Claridge Court, she was a lifelong Jackson County resident: the
sixth generation of her family to live there. In her early years she lived on the family
farm in Leeds, MO near her many aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. She
attended Central High School where she was voted Belle Brummell her senior year; she
was a Gamma Phi Beta at KU where she majored in psychology and minored in French.
Marge had been married to William Gale Dietrich for over 70 years when he passed
away in the fall of 2015. They were deeply in love and united as one—their
grandchildren think of “Gigi and Papa” as a unit, and they lived their life in loving
support of one another for the benefit of their family.
Known as “Margie Nell,” “Marge,” and “Margie” to her friends and family for years, she
became “Gigi” as grandmother to her 10 grandchildren, their spouses, and her 11 greatgrandchildren,
all of whom she adored. As “Gigi,” she was the perfect mother and
grandmother. She was warm, loving, and respectful to all, but the love and care of her
family was her highest concern and calling. She was unconcerned with the trappings of
life, but she understood what was important, and believed in doing what was right. She
was steadfast in the love of her family and in creating loving traditions for them: her
annual holiday Nutcracker parties are warmly remembered by all as special moments
for her beloved family enjoying these meaningful times spent together. Family
gatherings at Huntington Road frequently included Marge playing the piano: both for
her and everyone’s enjoyment, and frequently to accompany an impromptu sing-along.
For her grandchildren, Gigi always made time for special sleepovers and shopping
excursions. From her perch in the white wicker chair on the sun porch of her home of
over 50 years, she intently wanted to hear every detail of her grandchildren’s lives and
then of their children's lives. She was deeply involved in their care, nurturing, and love.
Marge loved gardening and her gardens (with her pet box turtles, frequently named
Myrtle and Ferdinand) and was an accomplished watercolorist with a close circle of
friends with whom she painted for years. Her grandchildren all remember art sessions
at Pondwood, Kapalua, and Arcadia, and that very special summer in the basement of
Huntington Road when she created Gigi’s Art Camp for all 10 of her grandchildren, then
ranging in ages from 6 to 15. As the camp’s chief (and only) counselor, and always in
her role as mother and grandmother, she was amazing in the way she encouraged
creativity. Everyone was a budding artist worthy of her attention. A child's simple
abstract painting suddenly became an amazing island filled with fish and sand and
seaweed. She could find more in one of her protégé’s paintings than they could. She
was a very patient teacher who offered praise abundantly. And, for the record, each of
her grandchildren was just amazing!
For years Marge was active on the Altar Guild and taught Sunday school at Grace & Holy
Trinity Cathedral, but her main focus was on her family and closest friends, and on
creating memorable and beautiful homes and environments for their enjoyment.
Family ties are made strong through shared memories of picking apples, pressing cider,
making mountains of grape jelly from the freshly-picked Concord grapes, and fishing at
Pondwood; of whale watching, walks on the beach, painting watercolors on the lanai,
and collecting shells at Kapalua; of hikes and bird watching in the mountains, and
cookouts on Juniper Rock at her beloved Arcadia. Marge wove the fabric that created
these tapestries of love.
Marge leaves three children, Meredith Gale Steinhaus; Ann Elizabeth Cooling and James
E. Cooling; and Walter Reich Dietrich and Sheila Kemper Dietrich; their grandchildren,
Daniel and Anne Steinhaus, Joel and Sarah Steinhaus, Michael and Sloan Steinhaus, Sara
and Andrew Trucksess, Lisa and Michael Lane, Catherine and Steven Davis, James
Cooling, August Dietrich, Andrew Dietrich, and Cynthia and Earl Gleason, and 11 greatgrandchildren.
The family expresses its immense gratitude for the tireless caregiving,
particularly by Sarah Crutchfield, and a very special few generous souls, who were loved
by Marge as her own at the end of her life.
Private graveside services for the family. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests
contributions to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Missouri Department of
Conservation, or the National Audubon Society. Please offer condolences at www.overlandparkchapel.com.