Marion Eldridge Gillespie, 98, died Friday, April 14, 2006 at Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls. She was born on the eighth of January, 1908 to John and Emma (Johnson) Eldridge. Their home, the place Marion still called home, was at 921 Center Avenue in Moorhead. She was baptized, confirmed, and married at Trinity Lutheran Church where she sang in the Cathedral Choir for 781/2 years. Since September 2002 she has resided at Mill Street Residence in Fergus Falls.
Moorhead High School class of 1926 appropriately nicknamed her “Happy” Eldridge and voted her female student “most likely to succeed”. As a founding member of the Wig & Mask Club she acted in many plays. She was proud of her record of 12 years of perfect attendance in school and Sunday school. She attended both NDSU and Moorhead State Teachers College and took night classes at Concordia College where she was involved in theater. Drama continued to play a major role in her life as she gave humorous readings, often in a Norwegian accent, around the MN-ND area for 60 years. She acted as emcee, style-show narrator, and entertainer for churches, schools, and civic groups.
On May 17, 1946, Marion Eldridge married Hamilton S. Gillespie III. They had 3 children and they built and operated Gillespie Studio on Center Ave. in Moorhead. For 20 years she worked for Hamm’s Distributing Co. Later she was a much-loved teacher at Interstate Business College in Fargo, working there for 22 years. Marion was a life-long member of Trinity where she served on many committees, worked for a time as youth-director, planned and led trips for both teens and seniors, and was a church circle member. Her great delight, however, was her membership in the choir from 1924-2002!
Marion was a volunteer. As a young adult she served as an AOUW youth director for 10 years and as a Camp Fire leader. She is a past- president of the Fargo BPW and of Fargo Elkettes. She served as president of PTAs and on city commissions. Planning programs for Eventide and for all the groups she belonged to was her gift. She was a charter member of Altrusa, belonged to Homemakers, & Retired Teachers, and was a lifetime member of Kringen Lodge No. 25 of Sons of Norway. Recently she volunteered at ND Blood Services, The Village and the Heritage Hjemkomst Center.
Marion was a global traveler and operated Gillespie Tours, taking groups each summer to places within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, or Europe. She was pleased that she’d seen much of each of the 50 states and traveled on every continent but Antarctica. Marion Eldridge Gillespie was a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grand and great-grandmother, and a friend to a broad range of people. She was a planner, a leader, a giver, a thespian, a businesswoman, an adventurer, a clown, a teacher, and a Christian. She “ran with endurance the race that was set before her, keeping her eyes on Jesus”!
Marion was preceded in death by her parents, husband, and dozens of close friends. She is survived by her daughter, Ann, and son-in-law George Mathison, Fergus Falls; daughter, Gene Gullekson, Tulsa, OK; and son Hamilton “Gill” Gillespie, and daughter-in-law Kim, Littleton, CO. She leaves 9 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren: Elizabeth (Nick) Eide, Kathryn (Aaron) Anker and their daughter, Sienna Marien, Luke Mathison, Andrew Mathison, Satara (Nathan) Armstrong and their sons, Jet and Jax, Jared Gullekson, Sawyer Gillespie, Christopher Gillespie, and Robert Gillespie. Also two special nieces: Nancy Nielsen and Betsy O’Brien. And her little sweetheart, Muffie. ……
Visitation for Marion will be Tuesday, April 18, 2006, from 5 – 7 PM, with a prayer service at 7 PM, in Korsmo Funeral Chapel, Moorhead. Her funeral will be Wednesday, April 19, 2006, at 2 PM, in Trinity Lutheran Church. Burial will follow in Riverside Cemetery, Moorhead.