Marilyn Jeanette (Erickson) Mattson, 89, passed away on November 6, 2020 at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, ND with complications from Covid-19.
Marilyn was born December 26, 1930 in Warren, MN to parents Ralph and Esther (Haaseth) Erickson. She was baptized at the Swedish Lutheran Church in Warren February 22, 1931. She was confirmed at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Alvarado June 10, 1945. She grew up in a three-generation household on their family farm eight miles west and one mile north of Warren. Marilyn considered it a privilege that her first four years of schooling were at the Holmgren District 36 one-room country school. She walked over a mile most of the year to get there and credited country school for her interest in travel.
Marilyn was a 1949 graduate of Alvarado High School. She then worked for Dr. Chester Gunnarson in Warren as a dental hygienist. The Gunnarsons and the Mattsons (of The Warren Sheaf) were close friends. “Doc” played matchmaker and introduced Marilyn to her future husband, E. Neil Mattson.
Marilyn and Neil were united in marriage September 10, 1950 with torrential rain at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Alvarado. They celebrated their 65th anniversary in July 2015 before Neil passed away in September that year. To this amazing union, nine children were born.
Their household was a busy one! Aside from raising her large family, Marilyn found time to perfectly sew clothes (including doll clothes), play piano, bake fresh bread and braided tea rings, make her famous doughnuts and Swedish rusks, teach Sunday School, lead a school bond issue, and prolifically write letters that included clippings from articles she’d read. The coffee pot was always on for visitors. Marilyn faithfully attended to the family gravestones every summer; red geraniums were her favorite. Her greatest joy, as the “hub” of the family, was gathering as many as possible together for special meals; her last one was October 22. Patriotic to the end, she voted from the hospital on November 2.
Later, once they had some time for each other, Marilyn and Neil traveled extensively, always driving. They crisscrossed the United States, visiting every presidential library and getting to every state many times, except Hawaii. Their itineraries were jam packed, each trip over several thousand miles. Neil would write columns for The Warren Sheaf after every trip, until one year when Marilyn read his column and remarked that his account didn’t sound like the trip she had been on! From that time forward in 1971, it was up to her to write the “trip” columns. Marilyn had quite the devoted fan club for her detailed travelogues. She started pitching in at The Sheaf in 1972 doing anything that needed to be done: sales, subscriptions, mailing, writing feature stories and captions, customer service, job printing, etc., Marilyn could do it all! Right up to her last days, she was so happy to do what she could for The Sheaf.
In the 1960s, Marilyn was chairperson for the Warren Area March of Dimes. She was named Warren’s Outstanding Woman at the Town & Country Banquet in 1995. For 30 years she served as the publicist for the Agassiz Swedish Heritage Society. Marilyn was on the Good Samaritan Advisory Board. She was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary. From 2002 until her death, she was the WELCA president at First Lutheran Church. In 2009 Marilyn was aptly named Warren’s Outstanding Senior Citizen Volunteer.
Over the past five years of adjusting to life without her soulmate, Marilyn was determined to thrive. Always incredibly active over the years at First Lutheran in Warren, she became even more involved. Leading many projects, her favorites were Operation Christmas Child (filling over 1,000 shoeboxes through the years!), Lutheran World Relief health and school kits, and quilting for third world countries. Monday, quilting day at First Lutheran, was sacred.
Marilyn also exercised her travel wings often during the past five years. She had many children and grandchildren to tap for travel buddies. She visited the Holy Land for a second time; attended a granddaughter’s wedding in Santa Barbara, CA; finally got to Hawaii to see Pearl Harbor; fulfilled a life-long ambition to meet her second cousin in Norway; enjoyed one last cruise to the San Juan Islands; took a bus trip to Branson, Missouri; and made many trips to escape some cold winter weeks to stay with her kids in CO, AZ, and TX.
If ever there were an angel walking among us, our beautiful Marilyn can claim those wings. She was compassionate, generous, other oriented, kind hearted, hard working, ever smiling, patient, conscientious, pragmatic, a great communicator with a penchant for detail, full of grace, and always exuding unconditional love to everyone she knew and met. Anyone who knew Marilyn, who lived her strong faith, can consider themselves richly blessed. Her last message to her beloved family was “to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind. Accept Him as your Lord and Savior. We will meet in heaven. What a glorious promise from our Lord. May God bless and keep each of you. I’m a blessed mother. Thanks! Thanks from all my heart.”
Left to mourn Marilyn’s passing are her eight children: John Peter Mattson, Thief River Falls, MN; Kathryn Ann (Warren) Lam, Denver, CO; Jean Marilyn (Mark) Larson, Thief River Falls, MN & Fountain Hills, AZ; Eric Neil (Nancy) Mattson, Warren, MN; Brian William (Trudy) Mattson, San Antonio, TX; Duane Robert (Kristen) Mattson, Austin, TX; Kendall Warren (Julie) Mattson, Grand Forks, ND; Angela Christine Mattson, Morris, MN.
Twenty dear grandchildren: Becky (Cory) Strand; Elizabeth (Joey) Monahan, Audrey (Kelli McKandless) Lam; Andrew Lam; Brittany (Alexei) Samoylov; Jillian (Daniel) Switts; Evan Mattson; Daniel Mattson; Derek (Kellye) Sanders; Kevin (Michelle) Sanders; Braden Mattson; Katie Mattson; Megan Mattson; Quinn Mattson; Hunter Thompson; Hailey Thompson; Jacob Mattson; Teresa Mattson; Hunter Mundal; Anika Mundal.
Seven precious great grandchildren: Carter, Britleigh, and Everleigh Strand; Cindal and Teagan Monahan; Alida and Victor Samoylov.
Also, three siblings: Roy Erickson and Paul Erickson, Grand Forks, ND; Grace Bischoff, Burnsville, MN. One sister-in-law, Mary (Mattson) Hanson, Plymouth, MN. In addition, dozens of precious cousins, nieces, and nephews. Her network was extensive.
Marilyn was preceded in death by her two-month-old son, Steven Ralph; her parents; her husband, E. Neil Mattson; two sisters-in-law, Sandi Erickson and Barbara Erickson; brother-in-law, Barney Bischoff; and two nephews, Jerome Bischoff and Donald Erickson.
Funeral Services are planned in the summer of 2021. Memorials are preferred to the Marshall County Historical Society, P.O. Box 103, Warren, MN 56762. May Marilyn's beautiful memory be blessed.
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