Marlin D. Torgerson, age 86, of Hutchinson, Minnesota, passed away on Thursday, February 1, 2024, at Harmony River Living Center in Hutchinson.
Memorial Service will be held on Thursday, February 8, 2024, at 11:00 A.M. at Faith Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, with interment at a later date in Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Gathering of Family and Friends will be held on Wednesday, February 7, 2024, from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. at Dobratz-Hantge Funeral Chapel in Hutchinson, and will continue one hour prior to the service at Faith Lutheran Church.
Memorials preferred to the charity of your choice in Marlin’s memory, especially those that support veterans or diabetes research.
Marlin Dean Torgerson always did things his way. Tell him it couldn’t be done, and he’d show you how. He had a dream to build a small business, and in the process, he grew a city that is watched and looked to for guidance across the state. His life motto was borrowed from the great Will Rogers: “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
Marlin was born in Bode, Iowa, on August 3, 1937. He graduated from Bode High School where he lettered in Football, Basketball, and Baseball. Sports were not his only focus as he played trombone in the band, illustrated the high school yearbook, and had a melodic voice which he declined to share in high school much to his choir teacher’s dismay. After he moved to Hutchinson, he performed Handel’s Messiah with the “Chamber Singers,” and was recruited to sing the WCCO Morning song when the famed radio station visited his beloved Hutchinson.
He attended barber school in Des Moines, Iowa, to help in his father’s barber shop and ultimately follow in his father’s footsteps. When he decided women smelled better and paid more for their hairstyles, he attended beauty school at the Rogers and Brenner School of Cosmetology in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he met Ruth Femrite. Ruth became his star model as he racked up awards at styling competitions across the Midwest. When they married in 1961, he and Ruth moved to Hutchinson, Minnesota, to begin their hairstyling business.
Operating out of their home’s basement, Marlin quickly outgrew the space and bought a business downtown. It was then he recognized the hurdles that developers and businesspeople encountered, being shuffled from one department to another to acquire the requisite licenses and permits. This spurred him to work with the city staff to create a “one-stop-shop” for entrepreneurs and contractors.
After an 8 ½ year stint and honorable discharge as a Communications Specialist and Recon Sergeant with the Headquarters and Service Battery, 1st Battalion, 151st Artillery of the Minnesota National Guard and Army Reserve, Marlin found time to embrace his love of cooking. He taught barbeque classes at the vocational school, and competed in barbeque competitions, earning a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to represent the Minnesota Pork Producers at the National Pork Cookout Competition where he tied for second place. Always on the lookout for a challenge, he helped create the wild game dinner at the Crow River Country Club, recruiting other home chefs to prepare exotic dishes of bear, alligator, snapping turtle, rattle snake, raccoon, and fish with 5-star finesse. His hunting friends made it their mission to help with the menu, ensuring the entrees were unique, varied and of top quality.
He enjoyed playing golf every Thursday afternoon with his buddies and served on the Crow River Country Club’s board of directors for 12 years and was President of the Board for 2 years. He established a tree farm for the club and shared his vision of wanting to have golfers on his home course greeted with flowering fairways each spring and beautiful color-rimmed greens in the fall.
Not one to sit on the sidelines, Marlin embraced the idea that “if you want something to happen in your life, you must take action.” He became an instructor for the Dale Carnegie Course where he perfected his ability to listen and put others at ease; skills that served him well in his many years of public life.
He loved the city of Hutchinson, and his fingerprints are etched in the cornerstones of many of its institutions. He was a member of the Crow River Shrine Club, Kiwanis, Elks, American Legion Post 96, Hutchinson Area Chamber of Commerce, the Jaycees, Hutchinson City Council, the Hutchinson Hospital Board, the Hutchinson Planning Commission, Hutchinson Safety Council, The Hutchinson Fire Department, Airport Commission, Hutchinson Community Development Committee, the Hutchinson Utility Commission and served as Mayor of Hutchinson for 11 years.
When faced with a shortage of landfill space, he led the city staff to establish Creekside Composting and Recycling. It was the first municipality in North America to process household organic waste into valuable soil blends. This business model has been studied and is being duplicated by other cities across the nation.
It wasn’t just civic affairs he was interested in. Marlin loved planting a big garden filled to the brim with fresh vegetables each fall. He enjoyed casting his fishing line as much as he could, both in the lakes and in the oceans. He was an accomplished bird hunter and an expert Christmas light installer. What started in 1980 as a few strands of lights on his home grew into a street fondly referred to as “Christmas Lane.” Cars lined the cul-de-sac to enjoy the festive glow of a neighborhood united together for the purpose of spreading holiday cheer. He and Ruth would, on random nights, enjoy handing out candy canes to passersby.
On February 1, 2024, Marlin’s spirit was released from his worn-out shell of a body that could no longer keep up with the escapades he was still planning. He is now singing in the choir of angels while redesigning and beautifying the city within the Pearly Gates. It is to be assumed that he is preparing a bar-b-que spread that includes his award-winning sauce and all the fixings.
Everyone who remembers him is asked to celebrate his life by telling their own favorite Ole’ and Lena Joke and raising a glass of Jack Daniels or their favorite scotch, beer or other drink in his memory.
Marlin is survived by his:
Loving Wife of 62 years, Ruth Torgerson of Hutchinson, MN;
The Three Daughters he taught to live with integrity and grit, Captain Gail (Dennis) Hathaway (US Navy, retired) of San Antonio, TX,
Dian (Brad) Phillips of St. Louis, MO,
Amy (Brent) Theisen of Minnetonka, MN.
He found great hope and pride in the future with his grandchildren: Jessie (Trevor) Terry, Colton Phillips, Erica (Matt) McCaskey, Kate Theisen, Ben Theisen, and Tom Theisen;
and his Great-grandchildren more recently brought back a sparkle to his blue eyes, Carson, Brooklyn and Reagan Terry, and Kolby and Ezra McCaskey.
Marlin is preceded in death by his Parents, Floyd and Lucille (Zumach) Torgerson; Brother, Larry; Special Cousins, Gary Zumach, Bob Torgerson and Wayne Torgerson; golf buddies, hunting and fishing friends, 2 loyal hunting dogs, and a couple of a cats he tolerated.
We encourage you to support the charity of your choice in Marlin’s memory, especially those that support veterans or diabetes research.