Marilyn Myrah Bunge
Marilyn was interviewed by her granddaughter: Alison Leathers
My Grandma Marilyn is a strong person of faith and has lived a life in service to others; she has an impeccable memory, recalling special memories and family and friends’ birthdays at the drop of a hat; she is a musician and shared her music with thousands of people; she is the queen of card writing, helping to keep the USPS funded; and she has spunk – ready to gracefully stand up for herself and others or share her opinion. To think of Grandma Marilyn is to also think of the Sound of Music playing on her record player; enjoying her julekake, pickled beets, freezer jam, and fruit soup; and enjoying hot summer days tending the vegetable garden and picking strawberries. Marilyn Annette (Myrah) Bunge is a Spring Grove native who grew up on the family farm with three younger brothers. Marilyn enjoyed playing timpani and drums in the Luther College band and played church organ for over 50 years. She married fellow Spring Grove native Waldo Bunge in 1954, and together they raised three children, Andrew, Mary, and Eric. Her commitment to service included leadership roles in the American Lutheran Church Women and in the ELCA Southeastern MN Synod. She also served with a mission team to support Lutheran churches and their work in Bogota, Colombia, and travelled there three times and still keeps in contact with her Colombian friends. Marilyn is always proud that her three children grew up to know and love their grandparents, and she is proud that her seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren have gotten to grow up to love and know their grandparents as well. She keeps busy corresponding with her family and friends via email, mail, and phone calls and streams church services and concerts on her computer. Marilyn keeps her family on their toes with her continued spunk and gratitude for each new day.
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? Be kind to one another is the best advice I have received and try to live by. I know my parents taught me this, and my faith taught me about being kind to everyone.
Tell us about your life’s path: I attended Luther College beginning in 1948, the same year famed choir director Weston Nobel came to Luther and graduated in 1951 with a Bible and Social Science degree with a minor in Norwegian. Next, I was a parish worker at Grace Lutheran in Fairmont, MN, managing programs for the church parishioners and completing office tasks. I worked for the Dean at Luther College and in the Registrar’s office after getting married, and continued after we had our first child, Andrew. When we moved to Rochester in 1956, I was a stay-at-home mother and welcomed our second child, Mary. We moved to Preston in 1959 and welcomed our third child, Eric, in 1961. I continued to be a stay-at-home mother. There was a need in Preston for someone to teach piano, so I gave it a try and taught for a few years. The only time my kids could watch cartoons was when I was giving a lesson. A few different summers, my family and I worked at Minnewaaken Bible Camp in Cass Lake, MN. Christ Lutheran Church in Preston was in need of an organist, and I was asked to play organ, which I played for 50 years until my eyesight gave out. When my husband retired from teaching, I became the church secretary for Christ Lutheran Church in Preston. In 1992, my husband, three children, and I started our family business, the Cottage House Inn, in Lanesboro, MN. My husband and I were innkeepers until the early 2000s, and it brought us a lot of joy to host others and provide them with a place to relax and enjoy beautiful bluff country.
Try to describe yourself in one sentence: Marilyn Bunge is a card-writing correspondent, music-lover, grateful for my family – children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and is living a life of faith in service to others.
If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? I grew up with my mom making oyster stew on Christmas Eve. I carried on that tradition with my family and grandchildren. That is a favorite meal of mine.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without: I grew up in a world without many things we have today – electricity, family car, indoor plumbing, running water (we had a pump in the kitchen), and no TV. But the one thing I wouldn’t want to live without is a radio – to hear music, sports, and more.
Tell us about your…Wedding day: Waldo Bunge and I got married on 1/1/54, which everyone thought was crazy, but it turned out to be a wonderful day with a temperature of close to 60 degrees and no snow. We had a fabulous time with our family and friends at Trinity Lutheran Church in Spring Grove, with a reception that included my Grandma Melinda Glasrud’s sandbakkels. My wedding dress was meant to be because the last few weeks I was in Fairmont, our organist had surgery and was unable to play. I played the organ for 8-10 weeks, and my dress cost $100, which was exactly the money I made from playing the organ. My mother Sigrid Glasrud came to Fairmont to help me choose a dress, and that bridal shop redid my mother’s veil for me. The flowers for the wedding were two huge pink poinsettias, and it was the first time I had ever seen a pink poinsettia. My organist friend from Fairmont came to play the organ, and my cousin Helen Vaaler was the soloist who sang “O Perfect Love” and “The Lord’s Prayer.”
…Favorite Memory: One of my favorite memories is when Waldo and I went to India and Europe during a four-month trip in 1984. We visited a veterinarian who once worked in Lanesboro as a University vet student. He set us up in a guesthouse, and visited schools, a Bible Camp, and friends. Then we went to visit friends in Hungary, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Norway, and England.
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