Balgaard, Marvin G. 88

Marvin Gilman Balgaard, 88, passed away peacefully on February 26, 2020 at the Garden House Memory Care Assisted Living in Winsted, Minnesota.

Marvin was born on October 2, 1931 at home in Evansville, Minnesota to Melvin and Gladys (Bergan) Balgaard. He was the oldest of eight children: six boys and two girls. He spent his early years on the family farm and graduated from Evansville High School in 1949 at age 17.

Marvin’s love for Jesus shown in the way he lived his life with a humble heart and servant feet. He was baptized November 29, 1931, and confirmed June 9, 1946, both at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Minnesota. He began attending St. John’s Lutheran Church in Howard Lake in 1957 and became a member in 1959. Prior to the computer age, he served as their financial secretary for 28 years and head usher for 24 – a job he “did by the book” – including lighting the candles in the “proper” order. He straightened pews, cleaned the brass candle sticks, served on the scholarship board, made sandwiches, and helped out wherever he was needed.

He was inducted into the Army on October 14, 1952 and proudly served his country during the Korean War. While in the Army, he earned a National Defense Medal, United Service Medal, and a Korean Service Ribbon. He was honorably discharged on October 14, 1954.

Marvin moved to Waverly, Minnesota in 1956 to help out on the George and Jean Marketon farm. He became a lifelong family friend and part of their family as he was like an uncle to the kids LuJean, Kenny, Virginia and Bob. Marvin and Bob have always shared a special bond and Bob was at Marvin’s side when he passed away. Marvin always considered himself a farmer and enjoyed fieldwork and running the tractor so much that he would take a week off work for plowing.

Around 1956, Marvin went to work full time at Merchants Refrigeration, a cold storage facility in Hopkins, Minnesota, where he was fondly known as “Shorty” to his co-workers. His family especially enjoyed the frozen foods and Fanny Farmer candy he would bring home. He prided himself on never having called in sick or having an unplanned day off. He received special merit in 1990 for having 30 years without a time loss. At some point Merchants was purchased by Christian Salveson and upon retiring on May 28, 1992 Marvin received a certificate in grateful appreciation for 35 years of faithful and dedicated service.
Thought to be a confirmed bachelor, he found and married the love of his life, Audrey Sawatzke, on October 25, 1985, in Waverly Minnesota. With the two little words, “I do,” he became a husband, stepdad, father-in-law and grandpa to 12. By the time of his passing, the family grew to include 30 grandkids and 41 greats with his namesake Marvin McNeil due the day of his funeral. His grandchildren rate him a 10/10, and say he gave the world’s most all-encompassing hugs. Ever the gentleman, he taught them by example some of the best lessons, including how to show up, laugh, be patient, and love unconditionally. He dearly loved his family and friends and was always up for a game of cards, dice, a can of Coke, an episode of “Bold and the Beautiful,” and to watch the trains go by.

Marvin and Audrey made their home on Little Waverly Lake, and later moved to Howard Lake. They also spent 18 winters in Tucson, Arizona. Marvin’s battle with Alzheimer’s began in 2013, and he moved to the Garden House on May 2, 2017. Over the years, this became his home where he was loved and treated like family by the staff.

Marvin’s many collections included cars, trucks, tractors, Garfield, Avon beer steins, matchbooks, whiskey bottles, hats, and history books. He supported several charities, including The Alzheimer’s Association, VFW, Cancer Society, Disabled Vets and others. He volunteered at the Good Samaritan Society where he could be found serving ice cream or popcorn, and for Meals on Wheels

He is survived by step-children Joan (Mel) Laurence of Mound, Dan (Dawn) Sawatzke of Waverly, Chris (Rich) Alverson of Osakis, Doug (Jenell) Sawatzke of Annandale, Dale (Laura) Sawatzke of Maple Lake, JoEllen (Joel) Fasching of Winsted, Carol (Dan) Tongen of Annandale, and step daughter-in-law Jan (Doug) Koelfgen of Albertville; grandchildren Katy Laurence, Jessica (Erich) Axmacher, John (Amber) Laurence, Julie (Joe) Jenkins, Carrie (Jake) Thomason, Tammy Sawatzke, Eric (Erica) Sawatzke, Andy (Nicolle) Sawatzke, Joe (Beth) Sawatzke, Jeanne (Justin) Hertzog, Abby (Brad) Ficker, Mindi (Preston) Nash, Brittany (Nick) Laven, Robbie (Britta) Alverson, Michelle (Andrew) Franz, Diana Alverson, Bobbi Jo Alverson, William Alverson, Kelly (Adam) Burns, Turner (Chelsey) Sawatzke, Kristal (Evan) Witt, Jennifer (Kris) Loebertmann, Bob (Crystal) Sawatzke, Blair (Lynn) Derry, Michael Sawatzke, Keith Fasching, Audrianna (Andrew) McNeil, Brady Tongen, Peyton Tongen, and Paige (Troy) Lehto; and great grandchildren Kylie and Griffin Byun; Scarlett, Madeline and Grayson Axmacher; Eric Cantrell; Logan Laurence; Ivy and Macy Jenkins; Parker Thomason; Rayna, Gianna, and Grady Anderson; Emma Rose Sawatzke; Kayden and Addison Sawatzke; Lachlynn and Lennon Sawatzke; Bennett Hertzog; Hallie Ficker; Pason, Nora, Tytus, and Jakin Nash; Toby, Lucy, Hadley, and Molly Jo Laven; Marlow and Sawyer Alverson; Alexis, Jaxon, and Hazel Sawatzke; Ruby Witt; Ray and Jacob Loebertmann; Morgan and Max Sawatzke; and Ivan, Owen, and Beau Derry.

He is further survived by sister Beverly (Bob) Bonkoski of Lakeville, brother Ronald Balgaard of Alexandria, sister-in-law JoAnn Balgaard of Olivia; and friends who are family: LuJean (Larry) Starke of Nicollet, Kenny (Colleen) Marketon of Howard Lake Bob (Annette) Marketon of Howard Lake and Virginia (Ken) Wandersee of Buffalo.

Marvin was preceded in death by his beloved wife Audrey in 2016; stepson Richard Sawatzke; father Melvin Balgaard; mother Gladys Balgaard; brothers Roger, Dennis, Truman, and Luverne Balgaard; sister Elvina Schrupp; and friends George and Jean Marketon.

Memorials preferred to the Alzheimer’s Association or the VFW

A funeral service will be Friday, March 6 at 11 a.m. at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Howard Lake. There will be visitation at the church beginning at 9:30 a.m., prior to the service. Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home and Cremation Services is handling the arrangements; www.swansonpeterson.com.