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Marvin Freund worked more than 33 years for four airlines, starting out as a union man with Wisconsin Central in Chicago and, three mergers later, ending up as a top manager and labor negotiator for the former Republic Airlines in Minneapolis.

"He was very intelligent, very flexible and had very good ideas," some of which he gleaned by being a good listener, said Norman Taylor, who worked with Freund for 23 years.

Freund, 83, died of liver cancer Tuesday at his home in Lakeville.

He was one of the first lay eucharistic ministers at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Bloomington, where he was active in fundraisers and couples bowling, said his wife of 59 years, Joan. He was a Navy sailor in the Pacific Theater for the last two years of World War II.

Around 1950, Freund, a station agent, helped organize a union at Wisconsin Central Airlines, which operated at Midway Airport in Chicago. "It was busy when all three planes were on the ground," Joan Freund said. Four years later, he was promoted to reservations and ticketing manager when the airline became North Central, she said. North Central merged to become Republic, and he helped meld unions when Republic acquired Hughes Airwest in 1980.

Freund was respected by labor and management, said Taylor, who was hired by Freund in 1958. Taylor said his friend was fair and loyal to employees and to the company. "He gave people opportunities for advancement. If you had a problem, you could go to him and he would work with you. ... He would try to find a way that was satisfactory for the company and employee."

Freund took a buyout from Republic in 1981 and retired in 1983 from Air-1, of St. Louis, said his youngest son, Jeff, of La Crosse, Wis. Republic was bought later by Northwest, which was absorbed by Delta Air Lines.

Freund loved to travel and visited 25 countries. Their first and last trips were to Jamaica, said his wife. The first time was on their honeymoon in 1950; the last was Jeff's wedding in 2009.

Besides his wife and son Jeff, Freund is survived by the couple's other children: Sharon Kaiser, of Kansas City, Mo.; Dianne Sergot, of Grand Rapids, Minn.; and Marvin, of Sacramento, Calif.; 10 grandchildren, and two brothers, Ralph, of Chicago, and Gene, of Lake Placid, Fla.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at White Funeral Home, 14560 Pennock Av., Apple Valley. It will continue for half an hour before the 9:30 a.m. funeral service Friday at White. Burial will be at noon at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658