Marlene Engstrom

Marlene Hustad Engstrom, 88, passed away April 11, 2021 at Three Links, Northfield, MN surrounded by family while under hospice care. Born June 4, 1932 in McIntosh, SD to Alford P. and Cora Haugen Hustad, Marlene spent her early years in Graceville, MN before the family moved to Alexandria, MN. She graduated Valedictorian from Alexandria High School and attended Girls’ State before joining the class of 1954 at St. Olaf College. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Olaf and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

While in high school, Marlene invited Duane Engstrom to be her date to a party. That invitation led to a 67 year marriage filled with family, faith, humor and a dedication to serving. After St. Olaf, Marlene was employed as Church Secretary at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis while Duane completed his medical degree at the University of Minnesota. Together they had three children: Christine, Peter and Rolf. They lived in Enid, OK, Chisago City, MN and Edina, MN before retiring to Northfield.

Marlene was a woman of many “firsts.” She was the first woman to serve as Congregational President of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd; the first woman on the Board of Directors at both Deaconess Hospital and Fairview Hospital’s Corporate Board; and the first woman and lay person to Chair the Board of Directors of Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.

Marlene was the quintessential “church lady,” serving as the local, District and National President of the American Lutheran Church Women. During the merger of the ALC and the ELCA, Marlene provided leadership to the Design Committee. Marlene’s call to serve also included volunteering with Minnesota Services for the Blind, the Swedish and Fairview Hospital Auxiliary Boards, the Hennepin County Medical Auxiliary and the President’s Advisory Council of the Minnesota Suburban NAACP. In recognition of her life of service, Marlene received St. Olaf College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Marlene was known for her wit, humor, musical gifts and accepting nature. Everyone appreciated her culinary skills (including Scandinavian fare) and would be surprised to learn that those skills started with just a hotplate and frypan. In her roles with the church, travels focusing on women’s issues brought Marlene to eastern Europe, Africa, Central America and across the US. Love of family fueled her interest in genealogy. She wrote two books of family history and organized family reunions which connected family members who had never met.

Marlene and Duane’s marriage was a true partnership and served as a role model for many. Their mutual love for the arts was expressed through involvement with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Painting Council, The Museum of Russian Art, the American Swedish Institute, the Minnesota Orchestra and church choir. Their adventurous nature took them rafting down the Grand Canyon and hiking out and on many family camping trips.

Marlene is survived by her husband, Duane, daughter Christine (Irvin Fosaaen) and sons Peter (Carole Sandoval) and Rolf, grandchildren Erin, Frank, Kristoffer, Lindsay, Sage, Jackson, Kris and Blake, sister Jane (Tom) Osterberg, brother Donald (Donna) Hustad, 18 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family. She was preceded in death by grandson Peter S. Engstrom, sisters Betty (Richard) Rathbun and Dorothy (Warren) Hovren and her parents.

Marlene’s family is grateful for the many friends and dedicated care-givers who surrounded her with grace and love during her last days.

Direct memorials to St. Olaf College Engstrom Family Scholarship, St. John’s Lutheran Church Foundation, Northfield, MN, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd Foundation, Minneapolis, MN, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN or the charity of the donor’s choice.

Visitation will be held from 1:00PM - 4:00PM, Sunday, April 18, 2021, at the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home. Masks are required and the funeral home will assist with social distancing. Due to Covid 19 restrictions, private services will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield. Interment will take place at a later date in Kinkead Cemetery, Alexandria.

Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough FH.

Related Topics: OBITS