Recalling Project Santa helper-in-chief

Games are piled up behind Marilyn Malkmus at a previous Project Santa Claus.

Games are piled up behind Marilyn Malkmus at a previous Project Santa Claus.


If there was someone in Carson Valley willing to take on a project, it was Marilyn Malkmus.

A 30-year Gardnerville resident, her name was synonymous with Project Santa Claus for nearly 20 years. Spurred by her involvement, in 1998 she and Alis Nalder started Project School Days.

Malkmus died Nov. 16, 2021, at her home in Gardnerville. No services are planned.

Project Santa Claus Foundation President Gary Dove remembered her fondly.

Dove said he met Malkmus in November 2005 after he and wife Debbie moved to the Valley and took their first angel off a tree for Project Santa Claus.

“The following year I reached out to her and requested to help the bike team,” Dove said.

In 2010, Malkmus, was ready to hang up her Project Santa hat and turned it over to the Carson Valley Kiwanis

“She wanted to retire from Project Santa and approached me and asked if Kiwanis would take over the program,” Dove said. “We agreed but many of us were concerned about how a service club could take on such a task that she did herself. We did and she approved with all the changes we made especially uniting the service clubs.”

In 2006, Malkmus was named Elks Citizen of the Year, one of many honors she’d received over the years.

In 2001, she was named Citizen of the Year by the Carson Valley Active 20-30 Club and received the Carson Valley Sertoma Club Service to Mankind Award.

She was the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the year in 2000.

“I have always admired her love for our community and time she’s given supporting the children and causes of Douglas County,” Dove said.

Her good works preceded her arrival in Carson Valley in 1991.

She and husband Carl donated to the Douglas High School Band, which was raising money to attend the inauguration of George Bush in 1989.

Malkmus grew up in Glendora in Southern California. She attended San Jose State College and graduated with a degree in home economics. She worked in the electric home living center at Southern Cal Edison before working in management and marketing.

Before arriving in Gardnerville, she volunteered for the Long Beach Children’s Clinic, serving many years on the board of directors.

She and her husband, Carl, moved from Los Alamitos, Calif., to Gardnerville in 1991.

The following year she became involved in the Carson Valley Community Food Closet and served on the board of directors from 1993 until her death.

Always looking for an opportunity to serve, Malkmus volunteered with the Douglas County Public Library in 1997, repairing books. She became a member of the board and served with the Douglas County Library Foundation.

Malkmus is survived by her husband of 55 years; daughters Kathy and Liz; brother Ron; two nieces, six grandchildren and six greatgrandchildren.


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