Madison, SD (formerly of Dell Rapids)
March 20, 2023
Marjorie “Marge” Gunn, 89, of Madison, SD, and formerly of Dell Rapids, passed from Earth to her Heavenly Home on March 12, 2023, at Bethel Lutheran Home in Madison. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, March 20, 2023, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Dell Rapids, beginning at 10:30am. Visitation with the family present will be on Sunday, March 19, from 3-5pm at Kahler-Brende Funeral Home in Dell Rapids. A Christian Wake Service will begin at 5pm Sunday in the funeral home chapel. www.kahlerfh.com
Marjorie Rosemary Niemann was born November 17, 1933, at Pipestone, MN, the daughter of Henry and Anni (Petersen) Niemann. She grew up in both Pipestone and Ihlen, MN, graduating as salutatorian of the Pipestone High School Class of 1951. The following fall, she enrolled at the newly established McKennan Nursing School (now known as Presentation College) in Aberdeen, SD, graduating as a Registered Nurse in the Spring of 1954. She was introduced to Joseph “Larry” Gunn, a Sioux Falls boy fresh out of the Marines, in March of that year as a date for the graduation dance. A short courtship ensued, which ended with their wedding ceremony on September 25, 1954. This day was followed by 61 years of marriage. In those early years and the arrival of children, Marge continued part-time at McKennan and tended to private patients in Sioux Falls. But as her family grew, Marge chose to stay at home to raise her babies. The young family first lived on Dale Drive in Sioux Falls but moved out to a small acreage near Lyons after the sixth child arrived. Five more children were born while they lived in the country. Then, in 1984, they sold the acreage and moved to Dell Rapids. She returned to work, employed as a nurse at Palisades Nursing Home, Garretson, SD, and later at Terrace Manor Nursing Home, Dell Rapids, until her retirement in 1993.
Marge loved to garden and was a frequent visitor to local greenhouses. Although she loved many different varieties of flowers, her favorites were African Violets. This fascination with plants drew her to join the Dell Rapids Garden Club, which she belonged to for over 50 years. She would eventually be chosen as their local president and also served as President of the South Dakota Federation of Garden Clubs. Encouraging her children to be involved in activities led her to be a 4-H Leader, and she was instrumental in the founding of a Sioux Falls chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Federation. Marge was an avid reader and enjoyed learning about history. She loved movies, and two of her favorites came out when she was young—Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. In their later years, she and her husband took up square dancing, and spent some time in Texas during the cold South Dakota winters.
Family and faith were very important to Marge. She was a lifelong member of the Dell Rapids St. Mary’s Catholic Church, teaching Catholic education classes and volunteering for Altar Society and at the local thrift store, Padres. She loved to travel. She and Larry somehow managed to take many trips with all those kids—to the Rockies, to California, to Washington, and one especially adventurous trip in the summer of 1972 to Alaska in a van pulling a pop-up camper. Marge enjoyed attending her children’s fine arts and sports activities; she became a regular fixture on the bleachers of Tri-Valley and Dell Rapids St. Mary’s. She was proud of their accomplishments, especially that her children pursued higher education and graduated with college degrees. Marge and Joe were selected as the South Dakota State University Family of the Year in 1979, the first family ever chosen for this honor.
Those that loved her will fondly remember her witty conversation, her expressive eyes, and her laugh. Somewhat shy and stoic by nature, she loved her family unconditionally. She was determined, hardworking, and strong of heart, right to the end.
Preceding her in death were her parents, stepfather Carl Westli; husband, Joseph; son, Robert; sister, Delores Kerkove; brothers-in-law, John Kerkove, Mike and Jim Gunn, and Ed Behrends; sisters- in-law, Sharon Gunn and Karen Wright; and niece Janine Gunn.
Marge is survived by her children: Paul (Betty) of Springfield, OR; Deborah of Lakewood, CO; Steven (Pamela) of Lakewood, CO; Mary (Sean) Sieler of Valley, WA; Diane (Kurt) Gildemaster of Madison, SD; Jennifer of Sioux Falls, SD; Theresa (Tracey) of Marshfield, WI; Jeffrey (JoAnn) of Aberdeen, SD; Scott (Stephanie) of Ankeny, IA; and Patrick (Rachel) of Cherokee, IA. She was blessed with 21 grandchildren: Shane (Kitty) and Zachary; Nicholas; Christopher; Krista (Josh), Jessica (Pedro), and Holly; Sara (Zac) and Karl; Kari; Brooke (Scott), Talin (Mattie Jo), and Adilynn; Keith and Ashley; Andrew (Karli), Adriana, and Alexa; Allison, Peyton, and Isabella. She was also blessed with six great-grandchildren: Avrial, Marlie, JJ, Alexandria, Greyson, and Jackson.
Marjorie “Marge” Gunn