CASA GRANDE — Marian Elizabeth Grabbe Warfel, 75, died at home in Casa Grande on May 16, 2019.
Mrs. Warfel was born to Clarence and Lillian Coupal Grabbe on June 28, 1943, in Hays, Kansas. She attended the Apostolic high school at the Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas, and became a nun with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. She received a bachelor's degree from Marymount College of Salina, Kansas, and a Master of Arts degree in music education and child development from Iowa State University. She also received Orff music certification at the University of Denver and was qualified in liturgical music by St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana.
She taught music in Catholic schools in Kansas, Illinois and Iowa for 20 years and later left the religious community, after which she taught in public schools of Dubuque and Ames, Iowa. While in Ames she was part of an international music education research project with schools in Iceland. In 1982 she became an instructor of music education at Fort Hays (Kansas) State University. While there she met Sam Warfel, a professor at the university. They married on Sept. 4, 1983, and moved to Colorado.
In 1986 she became the owner of successful Gymboree play programs in the Denver area, which she sold in 1998. When Sam retired in 1999 they bought a large fifth-wheel trailer. They sold their house and spent more than four years traveling the country. In 2004 they settled in Casa Grande, where she came out of retirement to teach music at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School for several years. She loved music and kids in equal parts. She was active in the St. Anthony parish, playing piano, singing in the choir and actively working with the Catholic Daughters. Over the years, she and Sam loved camping and hiking as well as traveling in the U.S. and foreign countries. She had an indomitable spirit and zest for life and only one gear — high.
Besides her husband, survivors include seven siblings, Frances Gordon, Donna Farrell, Pat Newell, Wayne Grabbe, Dick Grabbe, Lorrie Leibbrandt and Dave Grabbe; two stepdaughters, Penny Warfel and Debbie Harmon; five grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.
Burial in Hays, Kansas, on June 1.
Donations may be made to: Sisters of St. Joseph, P.O. Box 279, Concordia, KS 66901, or Fragile X Foundation, https://fragilex.org/donate/.