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Marlena M. Gates February 10, 1965 - July 6, 2020

Marlena M. Gates, 55 of Cincinnati, Ohio passed away July 6, 2020 at UC Medical Center after a long and courageous fight to survive a myriad of health issues related to diabetes and a kidney transplant. She is survived by her loving husband Philip G. Gates, parents Donald and Joyce Balsley, Sr., brothers Donald (Michele) Balsley, Jr. and Thomas Balsley, aunt and uncle Joan & Ted Reinert, aunt Patricia Henry, cousin Adam Henry, nephews Michael (Sarah) McLaughlin and Justin (Kayla, significant other) McLaughlin, nieces Rebecca (Daniel) Reuter and Nicole (Justin) Riggs, great-niece Kyrie Reuter, and family friend Julie McLaughlin. She also leaves behind two faithful and loving canine family members, Clancy and Dino.
Growing up Marlena was very active in sports, particularly soccer and volleyball and loved to swim often referring to herself as a “Water Baby”.  Family also remembers her wanting to play on the baseball team in grade school but at that time it was an all boys team and, as a girl she was not allowed – they feel certain the team felt threatened by her.
Marlena was faithful to her church, St. Williams participating in youth Bible study and actively working in the Church Rectory from 8th grade through high school joyfully and selflessly taking care of anything that needed to be done.  In her adult life, Marlena worked and retired from Hamilton County MRDD where she began work in a Group Home as a Care Giver until she was promoted to Case Worker.  She was a bright and shining light for all she met and worked with there.
One of her dearest hobbies was reading with weekly trips to the library to pick up and drop off books being the norm.  Nightly the family – Phil, Clancy, Dino and Marlena enjoyed sitting together listening to and immersing themselves in books on tape.  She was also a music lover and especially enjoyed traveling to see live music performances which would include showing support and putting up with her brother-in-law’s (Dennis) bands from time to time.
Marlena exhibited such amazing grace and courage in the face of serious and long-term health challenges.  She set the bar high on how to be a loving, caring, joy-filled person with a desire to serve and enjoy life to the fullest. Despite the pain and struggles, you never heard her complain even though she often had every right to do so.  She always remained positive and was eager to go out, attend functions and family gatherings and have fun. Her presence infused every space with joy. Throughout it all, Marlena was quick to show her gratitude, compliment others with encouraging words and share her beautiful, joyous smile. She is loved by so many and will be greatly missed.  We know that she is now in the arms of our loving God and pray that she is at peace and that her spirit will remain with each one who was blessed to be a part of her life.
Services will be private. Donations in Marlena’s memory can be made to the National Kidney Foundation
Services will be private.


  1. REPLY
    Maria Mueller says

    Joyce, what a beautiful obituary for a beautiful person. God bless you and your family during this difficult time. She is smiling down on all of you.

  2. REPLY
    Fran Human says

    Phil, I am so. Dry sorry for your loss. Sounds like she was a fighter and much loved. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. REPLY
    Tamara Walker says

    Phil, Mr. and Mrs Balsley and Tom, Sorry, to hear of Marlena’s passing. I will continue to hold you up in prayer. Please don’t hesitate to call if there is anything that I can do for the family during this difficult time. Sincerely, Tamara (Tammy) Walker (Phil’s coworker).

  4. REPLY
    Kathy and Chris Ahern says

    Phil, I am so sorry for your loss. Marlena was a wonderful lady and will be missed! Praying for you all

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Donations in Marlena's memory can be made to the National Kidney Foundation  www.kidney.org