Marjorie Engebretson of Minneapolis, who helped lead two Lutheran organizations and was a retired Lutheran educator, died on March 10 in Edina of complications from Parkinson's disease. The former Burnsville resident was 86.
After graduating from a two-year program at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, in 1941, Engebretson taught school in her native Iowa.
For two years around 1950, she worked with what would become the Anne Carlsen Center for Children in Jamestown, N.D., working with disabled children.
"She remembered it as her most rewarding teaching role," said her son, Peter Engebretson of Minneapolis.
After studying at the old Lutheran Bible Institute in Minneapolis from 1950 to '52, she worked as a parish worker at Minneapolis' Bethel Lutheran Church.
In 1955, she married Norman Engebretson, serving as a pastor's wife in Hanlontown, Iowa; Vallejo, Calif.; Superior Wis., and Okinawa, Japan.
While a pastor's wife, she served as youth director, choir director and Christian educator.
"She loved the work of a pastor's wife," said Peter Engebretson.
In 1974, her husband died suddenly of a heart attack. She returned to the Twin Cities, where she served as the director of Christian education at Burnsville's Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.
She also helped develop a confirmation class curriculum, used by several Lutheran churches, said her son.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Engebretson came to the fore as a leader.
"She had a resilient spirit," said David Tiede, retired president of Luther Seminary in St. Paul and now a professor of religion at Minneapolis' Augsburg College. "She had a kindness and toughness all wrapped together that was beautiful to see."
When she helped lead Luther Seminary's Board of the Friends, she made large improvements at the seminary and spurred the Friends to provide hundreds of hours of volunteer service, Tiede said.
Tiede said he was impressed with how much she gave despite few financial resources.
She also sponsored foreign students.
Engebretson faced changes in society and the church with a positive attitude, Tiede said.
"She was a very strong woman in her own right in a generation where women's leadership in the church was limited," Tiede said. "She was welcoming of the next generation of women, who were becoming pastors."
In the 1980s, Engebretson served on the District Board of the American Lutheran Church Women.
She was a member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley.
Son Peter recalled her as a quiet leader, never taking the limelight, and said she was "very proud" of her Norwegian ancestry.
"One of her greatest pleasures was going out for traditional lutefisk dinners," he said.
In addition to Peter, she is survived by her other son, Paul of Minneapolis; a sister, Lois Hammer of Clinton, Mont., and four grandchildren.
Services have been held.