Marilyn Guitteau; 1926-2013: Toledoan had 35-year career with Head Start

Marilyn Guitteau
Marilyn Guitteau

Marilyn Guitteau, who helped preschoolers and parents over a 35-year career with Head Start in Toledo, died Wednesday in Swanton Valley Care Center, where she lived the last four years. She was 87.

She had dementia, her son, John said.

Mrs. Guitteau retired in 2000 from Head Start and the Economic Opportunity Planning Association of Greater Toledo, which ran the federal program locally for many years. She started with Head Start the year it began, in 1965. At first, she was a family service worker, knocking on neighborhood doors to recruit children for the program, she told The Blade in 1990.

Her son said: “Back then, nobody knew about it. It was a brand-new program.”

She stayed with the program because it was a job “where I can make a difference, have fun, and get paid,” she told The Blade.

For much of her career, she was a parent-involvement coordinator.

She was born Jan. 8, 1926, to Marjorie and John McIlhenney and was a 1944 graduate of DeVilbiss High School. She worked for Libbey Glass afterward and played for company basketball and softball teams. She was a stay-at-home mother after her son’s birth in 1958.

She brought her athletic skill to golf, and she taught her son the game. Her son’s golf teammates at Sylvania High School and then Sylvania Southview nicknamed her “Coach.” After every match, she pulled her son aside to counsel him on his game.

“She was very demanding. She gave me the love of the game," he said.

She was dedicated to perch fishing in Lake Erie from the boat she and her friend Karen Ayers Fulkert bought. She and Mrs. Fulkert also paid annual visits to the Cleveland Browns’ training camp.

She played euchre, pinochle, and poker with a group of women called euphemistically the “Garden Club.”

“They were playing for serious cash,” her son said. She also enjoyed playing poker in Las Vegas. But her favorite retirement pastime was attending her grandchildren’s sporting and school events, he said.

She and Thomas Guitteau married in 1954. He died July 15, 1995.

Surviving are her son, John Guitteau, and four grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 3-8 p.m. Sunday in Walker Funeral Home, Sylvania Township. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in McCord Road Christian Church, where she was a member. Arrangements are by the Coyle Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.