Marian Blom Vaughan
August 20, 1931-December 21, 2022
A memorial gathering is planned for 2-4:30 pm on January 15, 2023, at Mueller Memorial, 4738 Bald Eagle Ave., White Bear Lake, Minnesota. A service conducted at 2 pm will be followed by time to reminisce and socialize with Marian's children; Karen Kendall (John Magnuson) and Kitty Choate (Randy Christensen); grandchildren Bryan (Mary) Kendall, Bryan (Melissa) Vaughan, Justin Kendall (Autumn Jones), Katie (Steve) Scheurer, Chris (Samantha) Choate, and Kevin (Jen) Choate; and many great-grandchildren. Interment will take place in the spring at Hoflanda Cemetery near Rose Creek, Minnesota.
Marian was born in Austin, Minnesota to Carl Oscar Blom and Nellie Mabel Gordon Blom who were better known as Oscar and Mabel. She was their only child. Marian was a city kid who also spent time in the country on her grandparents' farms. Having no siblings, she treasured her cousins' companionship throughout her life.
Marian attended Austin High School where she was involved in choir and school plays. Friends nicknamed her "Spike" because she was so skinny. She worked part time as a carhop at the local drive in, sold popcorn at football games, and sold tickets at the Paramount Theatre where she became a '40s movie trivia expert. Marian graduated in 1949 and worked in the school's office as a mimeographer. Decades later, monthly lunch with her high school friends, "The '49ers", was a favorite activity for several years.
While in high school, Marian met Donald Joseph Vaughan through mutual friends when she needed one more penny for bus fare. Don offered the penny, they talked, and she accepted his offer to walk her home. They didn't know it then, but they had started what would become a lifelong devotion to each other.
Don attended St. Augustine High School. In contrast to her stoic Swedish and Norwegian Lutheran family, Don's noisy, Irish Catholic family added new traditions to Marian's life.
Marian moved to St. Paul, Minnesota while Don was in the Army during the Korean conflict. She attended Miss Wood's School for Teachers at Macalester College where she prepared to teach kindergarten through third grade. She graduated in the spring of 1952. It was at Macalester that she fine-tuned her abilities to draw, create bulletin boards and crafts, and communicate with children. "The little people", as she called them, were always her favorites. Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, neighbors, and any other children she met all benefitted from her passion for teaching. She was "Nana" to all of them.
Marian and Don were married at St. Augustine Church in Austin on October 4, 1952. After a honeymoon road trip to Colorado Springs, they set up housekeeping in a St. Paul apartment. Marian contributed to the household income by working as a secretary at Liberty State Bank on Selby and Snelling Avenues. The couple welcomed their first child, Karen, in 1954.
Marian was dedicated to educating children well, so she investigated school districts and chose White Bear Lake. Marian's parents helped their daughter and Don invest lots of sweat equity into building a new house. The little family finally moved to White Bear Lake in April of 1959. All houses in the neighborhood were new, the trees were shorter than the kids, and Baby Boomers were sprouting up everywhere! Marian, like most mothers on the block, took care of her home and family with no car, air conditioning, dishwasher, or clothes dryer at her disposal. As the years went by, swing sets, barbeque grills, and garages were added to the close-knit neighborhood where lifelong friendships were forming. Marian and Don welcomed their daughter, Kitty In 1962. Their household was complete. They moved twice to larger homes and settled in for life in the early '70s.
Don's insurance business grew, and Marian took over management of the office. They partnered to run the business for more than thirty-five years. But Marian's activities were not limited to family, home, and office. Any time she could, as she said, "mush paint around", Marian was happy. It didn't matter whether it was redecorating a room, doing ceramics, or learning rosemaling. If it involved paint it was good. Marian studied the craft and earned her ceramics teacher certificate. She even created impressive portraits of her grandchildren when her brushes finally met canvas.
Experiencing a heart attack in her fifties prompted Marian to create the Heart Healthy support group to share healthy lifestyle and treatment options. Later, Marian nursed Don to the end of his cancer journey. When he asked what she would do when he was gone, she replied, "The best I can, it's all anyone can ask for."
Marian recreated her life as a widow by devoting time to her family and friends, travel, and books-lots of books which were often gifted to others. Marian was generous with her resources. She quietly mentored grandchildren and supported many nonprofits. She was particularly interested in organizations devoted to children's wellbeing and historical preservation. In her later years, she knit dozens of hats for hospitalized infants.
The annual lefse-making that Marian and Don began alone in their little kitchen grew to include their children when their grandchildren's consumption drove the need for more production. "Lefse Day" became a family holiday shared with friends and neighbors. One record year, more than sixty people transformed eighty pounds of potatoes into lefse. The treasured tradition continues with Marian's great-grandchildren at the grills.
Hoflanda is Marian's Swedish ancestors' country church and cemetery, located east of Austin and north of Rose Creek, Minnesota. It will become Marian's final resting place in the spring. Marian captured Hoflanda's history and anecdotes in two self-published books: Hoflanda Forsamlingen Facts and Figures and Our Small Part in the Human Saga: The Karl Oskar Blom family, also known as the Carl Oscar Blom Family. Copies of both can be found in the Minnesota Historical Society's Gale Family Library.
Marian was once asked what special hobby or skill she would teach to her grandchildren if she could. She replied, "The ability to see color and know how to use it. More important-the ability to appreciate excellence and to strive towards it." She did the best she could, and it was wonderful.