Marlene Betty (Marthaller) Wagendorf, 76, who was given the precious gift of life on Aug. 29, 1941, has selflessly given it back to the Lord on Sept. 17, 2017. She was born on the country family farm located 11 miles north of Regent, N.D., to Alvin and Katherine (Kuntz) Marthaller. Marlene grew up with her seven siblings: Jim (Regina) from Mandan, N.D.; Larry (Caroline) from Dickinson, N.D.; late brother Marvin (late Ida) Fisher and (Bev Kjilbak Sivak) from Dickinson, N.D.; Rosalie Burwick from Beulah, N.D.; Robert (Twila) from Bismarck, N.D.; Stanley (Mary) from Bismarck, N.D.; and Myron (late wife Joyce) from Orange County, Calif. While on the family farm, Marlene learned to cook some unique yet delicious foods such as tomato/chicken gravy, rhubarb pie, cheese buttons, creamed chicken, and homemade eggnog for Tom and Jerry’s, where she later became famous for her T and J’s when she and Donald bought and ran the local bar—Don’s Bar/later Al’s Bar.
In her child and teen years, Marlene attended Cherry Butte School located three miles west of the family farm, and worked many hours babysitting in the Regent area. In 1956, at age 16, Marlene met her soulmate and lifetime friend Donald Dean Wagendorf at a town hall dance, where Donald stated to Marlene’s father: “Someday soon I am going to marry your daughter; she is the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.” They were, indeed, joined in holy matrimony on Dec. 29, 1958, at St. Henry’s Parish with many friends to share the joy. With God in the midst, they were blessed with nearly 60 golden years of marriage, with nine children in the midst, living in Regent, Mandan, and New England, N.D. over the course of their years together.
Because of Marlene’s selflessness, her work always brought happiness to others, and she lived to make others happy. Aside from caring for others’ children by babysitting, Marlene’s compassion shined through in how she brought her friends together with numerous Tupperware parties. Even though she sold Tupperware, her ultimate joy came from serving her friends fresh percolated coffee and fresh, baked goodies. Her professional work began at Regent Public School as assistant cook, later to be head cook, where she served the best buns ever made, and gave 32 years of service and dedication as head cook. After providing all she could for Regent Public School, Marlene accepted well-deserved retirement. Even though she no longer cooked and served lunch, she remained faithful to watching high school sports and attending as many sports activities as she could. Yet her passions also lay in her vegetable and flower gardens, her canning/jelly-making, playing cards, and remaining forever dedicated to the Minnesota Twins and Vikings. Marlene was also a member of New England St. Mary’s, St. Joseph’s Church in Mandan, and Regent St. Henry’s. She was active in the Ladies’ Church Guild up until her death.
Surrounded by much love, Marlene was preceded in death by her loving parents, Alvin and Katherine (Kuntz) Marthaller, her parents’-in-law, John and Antoinette (Tupa) Wagendorf, numerous brothers and sisters-in-law, her brother Marvin Marthaller, her beloved and altruistic son Steven Carey Wagendorf, and her angel granddaughter Andrea Hope Lalka.
Marlene is survived by her compassionate and beloved husband Donald of Regent, N.D., and her eight adult children: her son Rocky Wagendorf (LaMay Pederson), of Fargo, ND; her daughter Brenda Lalka of Ft. Collins, Colo.; her daughter Cheri Bautz (Kelly Bautz) of New England, N.D.; her son Todd Wagendorf of Regent, N.D.; her daughter Cindy Gullickson (Steven Werchau), of New Salem, N.D.; her daughter Vickie Conner of Fargo, N.D.; her son John Wagendorf (fiancé Barb Pinnow) of Lemmon, S.D.; and her son Jamie Wagendorf of Bismarck, N.D.; and her 25 much-loved grandchildren, her precious five great-grandchildren, as well as several cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Last but never least, Marlene lived by the mantra that time should be spent well with those you love. She wasted little time on doing activities that did not include making others’ happy. She never sat to eat until everyone else was eating, and she never lay down to sleep until her children called to report they were home safely. Every day of her life was dedicated to making people leave her presence feeling better about themselves. Now, as she lay to rest, Mom will leave her legacy of her selfless ways of living life to make others’ smile and loving others unconditionally.
Marlene’s (Mom’s) loving spirit can be captured in a quote by Madeline Sheehan: “There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.” Mom, you changed people’s lives for the better every day of your life, and we will always feel your spirit live on in our hearts.
She was truly happy to have been able to just “be” in life and make people feel loved.
Rest in eternal peace, Beloved Mother, Grandmother, Wife, Sister, Aunt, Cousin, and Friend.
A Rosary service was held on Friday, Sept. 22, at 7:00 p.m., at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Regent, N.D. The Mass of Christian Burial was held on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 11:00 a.m., at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Regent, N.D. Fr Stephen Folorunso officiated with burial to follow at the Regent Cemetery located northeast of Regent.