Marilyn Wachhorst Kellogg Gualco, age 93, died peacefully surrounded by her family on Saturday, January 23, 2021. Her deep family roots go back to the gold rush days when her great grandfather, Herman Wachhorst, started the first Sacramento jewelry store in 1850. Marilyn’s mother, Mary Pollock, was from a California Pioneer family which the mountain town, Pollock Pines, is named after.
Marilyn graduated from Sacramento High School, Sacramento City College, and Sacramento State College. She met her first husband, Vernon Kellogg, on a blind date set up by Vernon’s sister, Maxine Kellogg Hyde, upon his return from World War II. They married soon after and had three children. Vernon’s dream after graduating from UC Davis was to own and operate a dairy farm. They eventually bought land on Pt. Pleasant Road, south of Sacramento, and built the dairy from the ground up. Marilyn and Vernon became a strong team. After several years of hard work on the dairy, Marilyn and Vernon decided to pursue careers in education. Marilyn taught at Kennedy and Franklin Elementary schools in Elk Grove School District for many years. She was proud that she was the first teacher to team-teach with her daughter, Barbara, in the Elk Grove School District.
Vernon and Marilyn bought 10 acres of land in Wilton in 1966, and built their dream home atop a knoll looking out to the distant Sierras. Marilyn’s grandchildren have treasured memories of the family times “on the farm” learning valuable life lessons and cultivating lasting shared times along the way. Vernon died in a tragic accident in 1985. Marilyn and family continued to create memories on the farm including starting the Kellogg Christmas Tree Farm.
Marilyn eventually moved to her beloved home on Laguna Lake in Elk Grove where she remained for over 30 years. She was a widow for 14 years and spent enormous amounts of time with her three children’s families, including the growing number of grandchildren. She took up golf, enjoyed her ladies Bridge group, and had many hours of enjoyment as a member of Valley Hi Country Club.
In 1998, Marilyn was reintroduced by mutual friends to Jim Gualco, a fellow classmate from Kindergarten. They married in 1999. Marilyn and Jim had a love of travel, performing arts, and gardening. They traveled the world for 18 years but never wanted to miss the important family events. Jim brought a light to Marilyn’s life, and they shared a mutual love for family.
The Kellogg family vacation home on Catalina Island has always been an important family gathering spot from Marilyn’s first visit in June, 1946, to meet Vernon’s family. On this first trip, they became engaged and so the tradition began for her family to enjoy the family home for generations to come. Because of the special memories and immeasurable good times on the island, she chose to celebrate her 90th birthday there with all her “girls”.
Marilyn is remembered by many for her kindness, gentle nature, sophisticated style (“Never forget your lipstick!”), and her devotion to her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Gogi, as she was lovingly called by her grandchildren and many others who knew her, was her family’s biggest cheerleader, rarely missing sporting events for her grandchildren, and catching plenty of activities for her great grandchildren. Gogi taught them that family was everything and made everyone feel special and loved. As an only child, she relished this chaos and confusion of the large family gatherings and would often be heard saying, “Oh, for Pete’s sake” when any one of her grandchildren would engage in silly behavior or share funny stories with her. She planned and organized many large family trips which often included sunny beaches and the ocean.
Marilyn was preceded in death by Jim Gualco in August, 2020. She leaves behind her children Steve Kellogg (Susan Kellogg), Peggy Phister (Tom Phister), Barbara Zarecky (Barry Zarecky); her stepchildren, Jack Gualco (Barbara Gualco), Lisa Gualco, Anne Henning (Tom Henning), and Mary Lobaugh (Mark Lobaugh); her grandchildren Becky Tavella, Erin Howard, Greg Phister, Joey Phister, Daniel Kellogg, Emily Barnes, Cole Zarecky, Jared Zarecky and step grandchildren Sarah Henning and Hailey Lobaugh; as well as 15 great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be planned in the spring when gatherings are allowed. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Vernon Kellogg Scholarship Foundation, P.O. Box 2021, Elk Grove, CA 95759-2021