Raised on a farm in Cherry Grove Township, Marlene attended a one-room country school through 8th grade. She graduated from Wanamingo High School in 1956 as salutatorian. Her classmates voted her homecoming royalty twice and student council representative. She was the school newspaper editor and sang in glee club and chorus. Marlene attended the Minnesota School of Business and lived in Minneapolis with her sister and friends.
She moved to Lewiston, Idaho, where daughter, Dawn, was born. A long-time resident of Kasson, she worked for IBM in Rochester for 27 years. Never one to slow down, she worked and volunteered at Kasson-Mantorville schools after retiring from IBM in 1993. On summer weekends, she enjoyed cashiering at Shades of Sherwood campground's store in Zumbrota.
Helping others was Marlene's passion, and she put in countless hours volunteering. Like her dad, Marlene loved to drive. For 25 years, she drove hundreds of people to doctor and therapy appointments for three different social service agencies and delivered Meals on Wheels.
She ran St. John's Lutheran Church's food shelf in Kasson and the concession stand that benefitted Kasson-Mantorville wrestling. After moving to Wanamingo in 2005, Marlene was active with the Wanamingo Lions and served Dale Lutheran Church in numerous ways: usher, treasurer, circle and bell ringer.
Marlene contributed to civic life as an election judge. She was appointed by the Mayor to Wanamingo's police work group. She was twice nominated Goodhue County citizen of the year.
Proud of her Norwegian heritage, she loved lutefisk and lefse and was active in Sons of Norway. She visited the Sviggum family farm in Sognefjord, Norway with Dawn in 2002. She loved birds and snowmen, garage sales, 4th of July in Wanamingo, and hosting the family white elephant gift exchange on Christmas Eve.
Marlene happily provided financing for Flour Child Creations, a woman-owned business in Wanamingo.
For 40 years, Marlene maintained a camper at Shades of Sherwood, where she was its very first seasonal camper.
Marlene died from injuries sustained during a fall at home after release from Methodist Hospital. She battled an advanced and acute subtype of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma for seven months with grace, courage, and humor. Days before she passed, though weak, she volunteered one last time with the Lions Club and hosted a July 4th parade party.
Marlene is survived by daughter, Dawn (Michael) Erlandson of Minneapolis; beloved grandchildren, John and Lily; sisters, DeAnn Sevareid and Cheryl McWaters; six nieces and nephews; and countless friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, Alfred and Palma "Polly" (Blakstad) Swiggum.
Celebration of life will be at 1:30 p.m. July 26 at Dale Lutheran Church in rural Wanamingo. Memorials to Dale Lutheran Church.