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Marion Bertha (Schmalek) Sonstegard

December 6, 1920 ~ March 30, 2018 (age 97)
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Marion Bertha Sonstegard, the daughter of William and Effie (Filipek) Schmalek, was born on December 6th, 1920 in Waverly, MN.  She attended school in Waverly and St. Paul, where her beloved father died when she was eight.  Her mother remarried Otto Hahn and the family moved to Sedan, MN, after purchasing the Sedan Cafe.  Marion attended Glenwood High School and worked at the cafe where she met her future husband Stephen Sonstegard.  On October 6th, 1938, Marion and Steve were united in marriage at the St. Donatus parish house in Brooten, MN.  Together they raised four children, Joan, Carol, Elaine, and Stephanie.  Marion sang in the church choir, belonged to Christian Mothers, was in a bowling league and loved to attend her children’s school activities, especially being a chaperone with the Brooten Drum and Bugle Corps.  She and Steve built the Highview Motel in Glenwood MN, while also operating the Skelly Gas Station and Cafe  that they owned.  It had the first drive up window for food in the area!  While she loved her children and her work, Marion cherished their annual fishing trip with three other couples to Lake of the Woods.  They made this trek up north for 20 years. 

In 1965 the family moved to Alexandria, MN where they built a house on Lake Winona.  Marion joined a new bowling league and continued to volunteer her time with community and church events.  These included, Listening Ear Crisis Center, St. Mary’s Church choir, and The Daughters of Isabella.  She was especially proud of being part of the Grey Ladies of the Red Cross, receiving an award from the American Red Cross as an outstanding volunteer with blood drives and blood collection for the North Central Region.  In 2000 she received the Service To Mankind Award from Sertoma in recognition of her volunteer efforts.

Steve and Marion loved traveling throughout the U.S. and the world, including Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Sadly, their travels came to an end in 1986, when Steve passed away after a short battle with cancer.  They were married for forty-eight years.

In 2001 she was diagnosed with macular degeneration.  She was devastated but accepted her fate with grace and poise.  She was an amateur writer, and once wrote a story about her Grandfather’s acceptance of things we cannot change.  Soon after her diagnosis she turned in her car keys and took classes for the visually impaired.  She rarely complained about her circumstance and continued to live her life as fully as she could.

She went from doing crossword puzzles every night to listening to tv and radio, especially Swap Shop, Open Line and the Birthday Club.  And if you wanted to know what was happening in Alexandria, you could call Marion, as her police scanner was on 24/7.  She  kept up on world,  national and local  events for all of her life.

Throughout her life, Marion loved having people around, especially her children and grandchildren and their friends.  Everyone felt welcome in her home and all the kids knew where the well-stocked candy cupboard was!     She looked forward to all family visits and sent cards for every birthday and anniversary of her whole extended family.

Marion was taken by our Lord on Friday, March 30th, 2018 at Bethany on the Lake at the age of 97 years old.  She is survived by her daughters, Joan Field of Las Vegas, NV, Elaine (Fred) Mathiason of Houston TX and Stephanie (Patrick) Osterberg of Alexandria; 13 grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; 3 great- great grandchildren; brother-in-law, Bill Sutherland; sister-in-law, Donna Hahn, and many nieces and nephews.  Marion was preceded in death by her husband Stephen Sonstegard; daughter, Carol Fruth (Ficken); grandson, Karl Fruth; sons-in-law, Dick Ficken and Robert Field; brothers, Robert Schmalek and Lewis Hahn; sister, Shirley Sutherland; and sister-in-law, Bernice Schmalek.

A mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday April 13th at 11:00 AM at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alexandria with the Reverend Steve Binsfeld officiating.  A luncheon will follow. A visitation will be held on Thursday April 12th from 4-7 PM at Anderson’s Funeral Home and also for one hour prior to the mass as the church.  Entombment will be in the St. Mary’s Catholic Mausoleum.

Arrangements are with Anderson’s Funeral Home in Alexandria.

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