Cover photo for Marlene Sjaastad's Obituary
Marlene Sjaastad Profile Photo
1937 Marlene 2020

Marlene Sjaastad

December 12, 1937 — May 23, 2020

Detroit Lakes

Marlene Williams Sjaastad, 82, of Detroit Lakes, MN died at home, peacefully and unexpectedly on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020.

Marlene Ann Williams was born to Clifford and Margaret (Wingert) Williams on December 12, 1937 in Pierre, South Dakota. She grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, with her four sisters and graduated from Bismarck High School in 1956. Marlene spent her summers as a teenager helping her parents operate Point Resort on Big Detroit Lake, in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, which the family owned from 1950 – 1977. She and her sisters stayed close, enjoying strong bonds for life.

Marlene graduated from St. Alexius School of Nursing in 1959. On September 14, 1959 she was united in marriage with Larry Sjaastad in Bismarck and they made their home in Chicago where she focused on raising their two sons Michael and John. Marlene was a caring woman, considerate of others and dedicated to her sons. Following her husband’s career, she traveled globally with Larry and two young boys forging several lifelong friendships. Still, she managed to bring her sons to spend delightful summers in Detroit Lakes with her extended family.

Remaining in Chicago through her boys’ education Marlene worked at Water Tower Place at the Accent Chicago store as their Buyer for many years before returning to Detroit Lakes in 1989 to care for her mom and be closer to her roots. In Detroit Lakes, Marlene worked at St. Mary's Nursing Home until her retirement in 1999.

In retirement Marlene was an avid reader, a good friend and neighbor, and caretaker of the family lake house - her childhood summer home and the remaining structure from the Point Resort. She enjoyed playing cards, walking, reading, and observing wildlife from her recliner overlooking a meadow. Her personal passion was lifelong work on a family history that she shared with us all.

Her sons will remember their mom as a boundlessly dedicated mother and an accepting, supportive friend. She was a generous and practical woman who loved them with her warm heart and strong constitution. She was always quick to laugh offering many witty yet insightful one-liners. She was a Chicago Bears fan, well organized and punctual, worked hard and never complained.

Marlene’s grandkids will remember her as a playful grandma who adored every family pet, Easter time, bunnies, and butterflies. She also enjoyed egg painting, drawing stick figures, giving hugs, and telling her grandchildren riveting stories of her own childhood and the adolescent antics of her sons.

She is survived by her children, Michael David Sjaastad (Julie Miller) of Sunnyvale, California, and John Eric Sjaastad (Liz Fiedorow) of Saint Paul, Minnesota and her four grandchildren, Katya, Elena, Elliot and Miles Sjaastad, her sister, Mary Riedinger of Bellingham, Washington and many nieces and nephews.

Preceding her in death were her parents, her sisters Ruth Thompson, Virginia Colao (and brother in-law Glenn Ingram), and Kathryn Johnson.

A private service was held Friday May 29th at Holy Rosary Catholic Cemetery Grave site and a Memorial celebration of her life will be held in the future.

Please share memories online at and in lieu of flowers, Marlene would have been delighted with a contribution to your favorite health care or animal rescue organization. Or just stop by Holy Rosary Cemetery some time. If you do, please bring just 1-2 cigarettes, a diet coke, candy, or popcorn.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Marlene Sjaastad, please visit our flower store.


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