Marlene Lorraine Willis, lifelong resident of Cannon Falls, died peacefully at her home, surrounded by her loving family, on Saturday, March 7, 2020.
Marlene was born March 5, 1935, to Anton and Minnie Berg. She was baptized, confirmed, and married at Urland Lutheran Church. Following her high school graduation, Marlene married Clair Willis in 1954, and the two remained happily married 62 years until Clair’s passing in 2016.
Marlene was as much known for her gregarious sense of humor as she was her cooking, baking and entertaining. She joyfully celebrated life through family, friends, singing, dancing, acting, and loved to encourage others to join in the fun. Always active in the community, she spent decades as an active member of St. Ansgar’s Church and choir, sang and danced for Fogey Folly’s Community Theater, laughed with friends during her multiple card clubs, and hosted numerous holiday pie and lefse sales in her home. She effortlessly brightened a person’s day through jokes and storytelling, and surprised many local celebrations arriving dressed in elaborate costumes perfectly fitting the occasion.
Marlene balanced homemaking, parenting, socializing and employment all within the Cannon Falls area. She waitressed at Windy Acres and Little Oscar’s, worked in sales at Scofield Drug, owned and operated the local Hallmark store, and was bookkeeper for Willis Motor Shop, just to name a few. Her favorite place of employment was the 14 years spent working at the Cannon Falls Beacon, a place where her secretarial skills and her vibrant fun-loving spirit meshed beautifully.
Marlene was a very proud and loving mother, grandmother and sister. She is survived by her children, Peggy (Dave) Harmin, Jamey (Beth) Willis, and David (Colleen) Willis; grandchildren, Aaron (Kelly) Bang, Summer (Travis) Slone, Calloway (Alyssa) Willis, Nadine (John) Hall, Caroline Willis, Anthony Willis, and Addison Harmin; seven great-grandchildren; and siblings, Joyce (Irene) Berg, Rosie (Percy) Thompson, and Alen Berg.
She was preceded in death by her cherished daughter Terry Walker, husband Clair, two sisters and two brothers.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Thursday, March 12, at 2 p.m. at St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church, Cannon Falls.