Marilyn Anita Engraf, 85, of Reeder, ND passed away at the West River Regional Medical Center in Hettinger, N.D. on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017.
Service of Remembrance was scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hettinger Lutheran Church. Pastor Kathleen Dettmann and Rev. Roger Dietterle will officiate. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church on Tuesday morning.
Marilyn was born July 23, 1932, the third child of Mons and Margaret Hjemvik. She was born at home, in New England with Dr. Gillsdorf attending.
The baby sister to Johnny and Marvin; the big sister to Ervin and Betty, Marilyn spent her childhood and teenage years growing up in New England with her close-knit family and friends. She enjoyed all the amenities that growing up in small North Dakota town had to offer.
Her Dad, Mons was just 18 years old, when he immigrated from Norway. He landed at Ellis Island with a just a few dollars in his pocket but lots of ambition. He made his way west and in South Dakota, met his future wife, Margaret Bakke. Margaret also had deep Norwegian roots as her parents, Carl and Marie Bakke both immigrated from Norway. Mons was a house painter and Margaret was a school teacher for many years in the New England, Havelock, Hettinger area. Marilyn inherited her gentleness and determinedness from her parents.
As a teenager, Marilyn and her brother Ervin worked at the show hall in New England. Marilyn was a baton twirler and avid skater. Her daughters grew up loving the Ice Capades, going to movies and dreaming of being a band majorette.
While Marilyn was in high school, tragedy hit her family. Her brother Marvin was killed outside of New England in an airplane crash. He was just 18 years old. Losing Marvin was a sadness Marilyn carried with her entire life.
Marilyn graduated from New England High School in 1950. After graduation, she went to work as a dental assistant with Dr.s Hancock and Salstrom in Hettinger. She married Gene Engraf on September 25, 1953 in Hettinger. They began their married life together on the family farm in Darling Springs Township, eventually moving to the original Engraf farmstead of Gene’s grandparents, Jorgen and Karri Engraf. As a city-girl, Marilyn quickly learned the many jobs of a “farm wife”; cook, parts runner, grain hauler, cow chaser, field worker, bookkeeper, and keeper of the house. She was an animal lover – caring for lambs, calves, fawns, baby rabbits, and many puppies. She never did acquire an appreciation for cats which may explain why the Engraf farm never had many.
Marilyn soon had her own babies to care for when Shari came along in September 1954; Gail followed in December of 1957; and baby Jill brought up the rear in November 1966.
Marilyn was very active in her community. She was the treasurer for the Darling Springs school board and later, elected to the New England School Board. Marilyn was a talented piano player and served as the Wolf Butte Church organist for over 40 years. She served in leadership roles for the Farmers Union, the ND NPL Democrats, and other farm related organizations. She was a strong advocate for the family farm and a populist who believe everyone deserved a fair chance. Marilyn instilled in her children a strong sense of compassion and justice for all. She always told her girls to “be nice and keep smiling”.
Marilyn loved all things Norwegian. She was a founder of the Reeder “Uff Dah” Days. She spent many hours working with friends planning and organizing this harbinger of Hostfest. She was overjoyed to have been found by her Norwegian family – her paternal Uncle’s granddaughter Gerd Hjemvik Veda. Marilyn learned she had a large family living in the Bergan area. A highlight of Marilyn’s life was traveling to Norway with her brother Ervin to meet the family and visit the birthplace of her father. Her Norwegian family was forever dear to her and the memories of the time she spent with them precious.
In the past couple of years, Marilyn has been lovingly cared for in the home of Sandy Strehlow in Hettinger by Katt Laughridge and Sandy. Her daughter Jill also cared for Marilyn in her home in Greeley and in the Hettinger home rented by the Engraf family. Marilyn’s family will be forever grateful for the tender care and attention bestowed upon her by her caregivers.
The light of Marilyn’s life has been her daughters, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. She was much loved by her family and her friends and will be sorely missed.
Marilyn is survived by her husband, Gene Engraf, Reeder, ND, her daughters, Shari (Tracy) Doe, Bismarck, ND, Gail (Warren) Doe, New England, ND and Jill Gardiner, Greely, CO, her brother, Ervin Hjemvik, Palm Springs, CA, her grandchildren, Cristal Doe (Barb), Denver, CO, Kory (Sara) Doe, New England, ND, Ariann Doe (Don), New England, ND and Skip Gardiner. Marilyn is also survived by her great grandchildren, Kelsey, Sophia, Olivia and Westin Doe, all of New England, ND. She was preceded in death by her parents Mons and Margaret (Bakke) Hjemvik and her siblings, Marvin, John and Betty.