Marlene "Molly" Habhab

Our loving mother and dear friend Marlene (Molly) Mae Habhab, age 86, passed away June 1, 2023 in Waukon. A celebration of Marlene’s life will be held later this summer.

She was born January 26, 1937, daughter of Dewey and Mabel (Herman) Miller, and grew up on a farm in Ludlow Township. She married in 1955 and a son, Darwin Allen Hanson, was born November 7, 1956; he passed away December 10, 1956.

Marlene later remarried and had three children.  Musty, Abby and Mimi were her pride and joy. She devoted her last 60 years to the care and upbringing of her children, guiding and fully supporting them through every step of their lives.

Marlene worked tirelessly to provide her children with a safe home and food on the table. In doing so, she often worked multiple jobs at one time. In the 1960s when the Old Stage Road in Ludlow was being black-topped, she hauled hot mix and was recognized as one of the best drivers in the road crew.

Throughout her life, Marlene worked at several restaurants including the S&D Café, Quandahl’s and McMillan’s 66 Café. She also worked for the State of Iowa as a clerk at the Waukon Liquor Store. Given her strong performance, she was appointed manager of the Elgin Liquor Store and then West Union Liquor Store until the State closed the liquor stores in February 1987. Marlene was also employed for two years at the Miss Marquette Riverboat Casino as a Group Sales Representative when it first opened December 26, 1994.

Marlene was a life-long learner and teacher. She always emphasized the value of education, and all her children graduated from college. With a limited formal education, it was amazing how smart Marlene was and what she all accomplished.  She completed several night classes, she earned her GED and later her Nurse Aide certification at West Union in 1989, graduating at the top of her class. She loved reading the news and enjoyed posting messages on Facebook and reading all the comments.

Marlene raised her children in faith and earned an award for her children having perfect Sunday School attendance even after she was on her feet waitressing every Saturday night. She became a seamstress, sewing clothes for her children to make ends meet.

Marlene accepted all the challenges. When others needed help, she was right there. She cared for her aging mother, which enabled her to continue living at home. Marlene helped friends when they needed it - even kids who were on their own and struggling.  Even on a limited budget, she made sure others had food.

Marlene had the utmost respect for those who serve in the military, she knew how to work hard and instilled that in her children; she taught them to respect and care for others. Her most notable achievement was how she fought for custody of her children in order to keep them safe. Marlene was actively engaged in the lives of her children and played a prominent and welcome role.

Marlene truly enjoyed traveling with her daughters in her later years, including trips to Washington DC, Las Vegas, Nashville, San Francisco, New Orleans and many others. She also loved partnering with Abby on construction projects, helping envision the possibilities and filling in the details on what needed to be done.

Marlene wrote, ‘I stumbled and fell so many times through life. But the Lord always held out his hands and helped me to my feet again. I fought so hard to keep my kids and God was always there for us. When my health started to fail in 2012, they were always there to help me with anything I needed.  I love them.’   Marlene was a smart, strong, resilient and determined woman who loved her children more than anything, and her children loved and adored her. She raised her children as a single parent and although she would often say ‘you kids didn’t come with a manual’, she truly was a wonderful mother. She has left an incredible legacy. Marlene had many great friends and long-lasting relationships; she will be missed.

Marlene was preceded in death by her parents; her son, Darwin; and her brother, Norman Miller of Alamo, TX, in 2019. Survivors include her daughter, Musty Habhab, and her husband, Greg Hawkins, of Ann Arbor, MI, and step-grandchildren, Megan (Casey) Gilbert and family of Fenton, MI, and Nichole (James) Douglas and family of Fenton, MI; her son, Abby Habhab, and his wife, Bev, and grandsons, Andrew and Dominic Habhab, of Madison, WI; and her daughter, Mimi Habhab, and her fiancé, Angelo Ligdis, of Des Moines.

Condolences may be mailed to Musty Habhab at 3074 Heather Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48108. Memorials can be made to Oakland Cemetery (Waukon) or Humane Society of Northeast Iowa (Decorah).