Patricia “Pat” Lucille Marble (née Morgan)
August 27, 1912 – March 12, 2929
Age 107 ½, of Richfield, passed away March 12, 2020. (She always wanted to take credit for the half year!)
Pat was born on August 27, 1912, in South Bend, Indiana, the second child of Charles and Jeanette Morgan. After telling some new acquaintance her birth year, she would sometimes quiz them to see if they knew of another significant event that year. Many would recall the sinking of the Titanic. Then she would reply, with a sparkle in her eye, “That’s right, but just so you know, I didn’t have anything to do with that!”
She graduated from Central Senior High School in South Bend, IN, in January 1931.
Pat married Ivan Marble in South Bend in January, 1933.
She and Ivan bought a small log-cabin resort on Island Lake near Northome, MN (with no electricity or running water) in the fall of 1944 and moved there with their three children in 1945 to run it. Because Ivan had to wrap up his work under a war contract for South Bend Lathe before moving to Minnesota, and the summer vacation season was approaching, Pat and the kids moved to the resort first. Her first job was to scrape and repaint six wooden boats for use by the resort guests, and to clean all the cabins in preparation for the season. For the first couple of years at Island Lake, she washed clothes and all the bedding for the resort with a washing machine powered by a gasoline engine. Pat cooked for up to 48 deer hunters every fall in the house at Island Lake, using a wood-fired cookstove and a three-burner gas hot plate. The tables ran from the dining room around the corner into the living room. At that time, hunters paid for a spot in a bed, not for a cabin or a room or even a whole bed. Nearly all of the income for the winter came in during the week over Thanksgiving. Because beds in the resort cabins and house were full, and Pat and family sometimes slept in the hay mow in the barn.
It was challenging to make a living with a small, rustic resort so far from any cities, even when supplemented by income from selling milk, maple syrup, and eggs, and doing many other odd jobs. So Pat and family moved to Richfield, MN, in 1954, where she worked for 24 years as head of the fabric sales department at J.C. Penney. She was the definition of “long-term resident”, living in the same house for 66 years, till the last day of her life.
She had deep connections in the community. For over 40 years, she enjoyed spending several days every week with her dear friends at the Richfield Community Center, volunteering, exercising, quilting, playing cards, and singing in a choral group. She also led and later participated in exercise classes there.
Pat was named Minneapolis Aquatennial Senior Queen in 1989. She enjoyed a special year of parades, singing in musical performances, and throwing out the first pitch at baseball games.
She was adventurous, and loved to travel, spending time in Europe, Thailand, Laos, Guam, Canada, and many parts of the U.S., including Hawaii, Alaska, Florida, and many states in between.
Pat was a prolific and gifted stained-glass artist, producing ~50 stained glass lamps for her family and friends (many of them after her 100th birthday), and hundreds of stained-glass windows, window hangings, decorations, etc. Twenty-plus years ago, she even designed and built the stained-glass box to hold her own ashes!
Some of her lamps were faithful reproductions of antique Tiffany lamps, but most were new designs, with no two alike. She loved to spend hours looking through sheets of glass to pick just the right color, pattern, and texture. And then many hours more to carefully cut dozens or hundreds of pieces in the right orientation, and grind, tape, assemble, solder, and apply patina. She laughed about the holes in her pants from errant drips of solder. Many of the projects were collaborations, with daughter Peg drawing the patterns, and son John finding unique lamp bases at thrift stores.
At the age of 105, after making a stained-glass lamp for new great-great grandson Aiden, she and daughter Peg took a driving trip to Indiana to deliver it in person and visit daughter Marjorie and many of her family members living in Indiana. This quickly evolved into a 4000-mile road trip to Florida, where she enjoyed sitting on the beach and soaking her feet in the ocean, then back up to Sault Ste Marie, Michigan to watch ships going through the locks.
In the early 1990s, she performed for several years in a vaudeville-style music and comedy show called The New Fogey Follies, featuring a talented troupe of senior citizens and directed by Allan Lotsberg, with performances in venues from Red Wing to Minneapolis to Las Vegas.
Pat loved to bake, and her rhubarb pies, cookies, and bread were staples at every family gathering. Her specialties were onion bread and Finnish pulla bread. But she liked to experiment, so occasionally her family was treated to bread containing chopped-up hot dogs, cheese curds, or 4x the normal quantity of cardamom.
She was still teaching and coaching her grandchildren and great grandchildren how to bake and how to make stained glass at age 107.
For the past two decades, she spent summers in the house near Northome, MN, raising chickens, going for walks on the country roads, visiting with friends, working on her stained glass, reading and writing, birdwatching, and generally “taking time to smell the flowers”. During winter visits to Northome, she relished sleeping on an unheated “three-season” porch, even with outside temperatures at -30F. When she swung her bare feet onto the wood floor in the morning, her bedside glass of water was usually frozen solid and there was snow on the floor just a few feet away, knocked from the boots of other family members. She always said she slept best in the cool, fresh air.
She took up kayaking at age 103 and loved it, paddling frequently in Island Lake, Hyland Lake, and Lake Superior. During one of her first outings on Island Lake, she saw a duckling that had somehow gotten separated from its mother and was paddling frantically through some big waves. She put her hand down in the water and the duckling briefly climbed into her palm. She always smiled when she described the wonderful feel of the soft feet on her hand, and she was hooked on kayaking forever. Spotting a lost fishing bobber during her first outing on Hyland Lake, she reached out with her kayak paddle and picked it up, then rotated the paddle around to pass it back to her grandson, who wondered if he would have the dexterity to hold a round bobber on outstretched paddle four feet behind his head. This started the little game to see how many bobbers, empty cans, tennis balls, and other pieces of flotsam and jetsam she could clean from the lakes on each outing. Three weeks before her passing, a physical therapist who learned of Pat’s interest in kayaking, gave her a shower curtain rod to use as a substitute kayak paddle while exercising in her chair. Pat went one step further by describing the scenes from an imaginary kayak trip while she “paddled”.
Pat had an amazingly positive attitude, and a great sense of humor. She always had a kind and encouraging word for everyone and was very generous. For her 100th birthday party, she baked 21 pies and embroidered 125 dish towels as gifts for her guests.
She loved to help others and was an inspiration to all who knew her.
When asked about her secret to longevity, she often replied “Smile at someone every day!”
At age 107, she still enjoyed the feel of snowflakes on her cheeks during a blizzard, while riding through the forest and down hills on her ski chair. After laughing and shouting all the way down one fast hill, she exclaimed “We need to go back up and do that again!”
Always eager to try new things, she enjoyed an impromptu party to celebrate the start of the new year (2020) in a quinzhee (a Native American snow shelter resembling an igloo or snow cave), carving decorations in the snow ceiling and sharing a round of warm Bailey’s Irish Cream!
Pat was preceded in death by husband Ivan, brothers Charles and Larry Morgan, sister Jean Goodyear, and grandson Shane Nicodemus.
She is survived by children Marjorie Nicodemus, John Marble, Peggy Wiklund, grandchildren Shawn (Deborah) Nicodemus, Shannon Nicodemus, Stacy (Dina) Nicodemus, Tracy Nicodemus, Tara Nicodemus-Wallin, Theresa (Dan) Breen, Teressa (Brian) Ledbetter, Craig (Melissa)Wiklund, Kris Wiklund, David Wiklund, 19 great grandchildren, and 7 great-great-grandchildren.
Pat’s family would like to extend special thanks to the staff at Abbot-Northwestern Hospital for their care over the years. We are especially grateful to Dr. Mario Goessl and Lynelle Schneider, PAC, for their superb care of and friendship with Pat over the past three years. The family is also thankful for the compassion and care from the Allina in-home care and hospice teams during the final days of her life.
In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Richfield Community Center, or Northome Food Shelf.
An outdoor memorial service for Pat will be held in Northome, Minnesota, at 10:00 A.M. on Monday, July 6, at Ardenhurst Cemetery, followed by a gathering at Ardenhurst Community Park. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, masks will be available and social distancing will be encouraged. See www.startribune.com/obituaries for more details.
A second memorial service will be held in Richfield, Minnesota. The date is yet to be determined. Please check back on www.startribune.com/obituaries in mid-August for an update on the expected date.
(Published in the Star Tribune on March 15, 2020)