Marianne Lucille Lee
January 3, 1926 – November 15, 2020
Our beloved mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great-great grandmother, Marianne Lucille Sandberg Stewart Lee, passed away at home in Taylorsville, Utah, on November 15, 2020, from heart failure at the age of 94.
Marianne was born on January 3, 1926, to Nels Hubert Sandberg and Esther Virginia Glyer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When her mother, Esther, died unexpectedly of spinal meningitis in 1928, her father, Nels, sent her to live on Esther’s parents’ dairy farm near Chisago City, Minnesota. She lived there with her grandparents, John Robert Glyer and Amanda Marion Lindberg Glyer, along with her uncles, Wallace, Morris, and Bobby, and her aunt Edith. Marianne’s grandmother Amanda (Grandma Glyer) and her aunt Edith lovingly cared for her until she was five years old. That is when her father, Nels, married Lillian Scharr, and brought Marianne back to Minneapolis. Another daughter, Sally, (Marianne’s half-sister) was born to Lillian and Nels Sandberg in 1933.
Marianne’s growing-up years in Minneapolis were hard for her because of the difficult relationship she had with her stepmother, a problem common to blended families. But hard times often bring about great blessings. In Minneapolis Marianne made friends with a girl her age named Betty Vermé, whose family took her to church every Sunday. From that point on Marianne never missed a Sunday going to church. Even when the Vermé family moved away, Marianne walked by herself to Trinity Lutheran Church, the church to which her parents belonged but rarely attended. She carried on that tradition the rest of her life and taught her daughters by her example to pray to God and to go to church.
When Marianne was old enough to drive, and occasion allowed, she would drive north to her grandparents’ farm near Chisago City. That was her happy place. Even though she graduated valedictorian of her senior class at University High School on the campus of the University of Minnesota, she would have aspired to be a farmer’s wife like her beloved Grandma Glyer. Her father and stepmother had bigger aspirations for her, though. They sent her to college during the years of WWII. Upon graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, with a bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages, she headed off to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, for post-graduate studies in Regional Hispanic Studies. At Stanford University she met Warren Jerry Stewart Jr., who was attending the university on the GI Bill. They were married on the Stanford University campus on December 19, 1948. Together they had four girls and raised them in Pasadena, California. They were divorced in 1969. Warren died in 2009 in Bellingham, Washington.
Marianne loved music and had great musical talent, a legacy she has left her children and grandchildren. She was an accomplished pianist. She also played various percussion instruments in school orchestras, and played the accordion by ear. She loved opera. Carmen was one of her favorites. Some of her daughters remember her playing Carmen on the phonograph record player while she cleaned house. Her daughters remember hearing her often play Chopin etudes and Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun when she found time to sit down at the piano. She had a collection of classical piano books from the great composers and sheet music and books of the popular songs of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, including songs from Cole Porter and Rogers and Hammerstein. Some of her daughters made great pastime of playing pieces from her classical and popular songbooks. One song Marianne loved in particular was Swedish Rhapsody, which she listened to often on the phonograph record while cleaning the kitchen.
Marianne obtained a Master of Arts degree in Music Theory & Composition at California State College, Los Angeles in 1971. Her master’s thesis was a concerto for percussion and orchestra. As impressive as her composition was, the most impressive thing about it was the months of painstaking work she did to get it written down. There were no personal computers then. The musical score had to be written on manuscript paper in fountain pen. Her daughters would come home from school to a kitchen table covered with sheets of manuscript paper. Even when the movers were packing up the house, the last thing to go was the kitchen table, on which Marianne was still placing the final notes on the manuscript paper covering it. She and her youngest daughter, Robin, were moving to Minnesota, back to Marianne’s native state.
Marianne never worked outside the home. But the work she did within her home was far more important than any worldly accomplishment. She loved and nurtured her daughters. She was patient, steady and indomitably persistent, even through many hard times in her life. She taught her daughters, by her example, that they could always pray to God for help when things were hard, and that He would help them. She was a prayer warrior. When any of her daughters wanted to take music lessons, she got them a private teacher and made sure they had an instrument, if needed. She worked hard to serve her family and others, and she never let things slack in hard times. There was always dinner in the evening and breakfast in the morning in time for school. She kept her house clean and in order, and she taught her daughters to do their part.
Marianne served as a Girl Scout leader for years. She was a leader in each of her daughter’s Girl Scout troops. They have fond memories of camp-outs in the mountains, trips to the beach, and swimming and horseback riding lessons with their mother at their side as one of their leaders. Marianne had a big heart for animals, as well. She welcomed many a stray cat, dog, or school-fair goldfish into the family over the years. She also welcomed and fed her daughters’ friends. After her daughters were grown up and gone, Marianne volunteered much time visiting patients in nursing homes.
On November 29, 1975, Marianne married Budwin Joseph Lee in St Paul, Minnesota. She then devoted her time to serving him and both his and her families. Her grandchildren have fond memories of fried sunfish which she had just caught from the nearby lake, pies made from wild blueberries which she had recently picked, and sticky cinnamon rolls made from whole wheat flour she had ground herself. A few years after their marriage, Marianne converted to Catholicism, which was Budwin’s native church. She became a Eucharistic minister and taught Bible classes. After Budwin’s death in 1991 in Cloquet, MN, Marianne lived with daughters until her passing. In her 90s, she was still attending Catholic mass every week. Her indomitable spirit warmed all who came to know her there. She gave generously to her church and to various charities.
To say the least, Marianne left us a wonderful legacy of unwavering faith, service, patience, perseverance, kindness, courage, hard work, love and nurturing, generosity and humility. She even exercised every day until just a few months before she passed away. She was a humble, sweet lady. All who knew her loved her big smile and her sense of humor. She is honored in memory by all.
Marianne was preceded in death by both husbands, her half-sister, Sally Johansson, and a grandson, Michael Schneider. She is survived by her daughters, Candy Caballero (Gary), Susan Schmidt, Sally Graham, and Robin Venaas (Roger), 16 grandchildren, 29 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandson.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only a small graveside service was held at Sunset Cemetery in Minneapolis at 11:30 AM on Wednesday, November 25, 2020. An informal full-family service and gathering will be held in Minneapolis in the spring or summer of 2021, when COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. Notification of the date, time and place of that event will be posted in the future on this page.
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