Marilyn Ericksen was a second generation resident of The Dalles, Ore., born on May 17, 1922 and died in Hood River, Ore., on February 29, 2016. She was the second child of Allie and Hazel Gronewald. In 1929 her father drowned while trying to rescue her ten year old brother from the Deschutes River. In September of that year, Hazel moved them to Monmouth where she earned a teaching certificate, then moved to Falls City where she taught for two years before returning to The Dalles in 1933.
Marilyn graduated from The Dalles High School in 1940 and went to the University of Oregon for two years followed by a year of X-ray training at the medical school in Portland. She worked as an X-ray technician in Portland for four years before returning to The Dalles in 1947 to marry “the boy next door,” Walter Ericksen.
Together they purchased his father’s ranch on lower Mill Creek. Initially they raised vegetables and primarily cantaloupe. When the years net income yielded $400 they determined it was time to plant cherries! For 20 years, Walt and Marilyn spearheaded the push for the new local aluminum plant to clean up emissions that were negatively impacting cherry crops in the area.
In the 1960s they sold a portion of their orchard property to a nursing home company that built what is now Evergreen The Dalles Health and Rehabilitation Center. When the then Valley Vista Nursing home faced bankruptcy, Walt and Marilyn found a partner and purchased the nursing home. After they had established the facility as a financially viable business, they sold it in the 1970s.
Over the years Marilyn was active in Girl Scouts as a leader and eventually a trainer of leaders. She also assisted with home extension classes, led a 4-H entomology club, and square danced with the “Swap & Swing.” She was active in the UCC Church, PTA, book clubs, bridge club, and The Dalles Senior Center.
Marilyn enjoyed history and was a board member of the Original Wasco County Courthouse Preservation Corporation. Having been born and raised in Wasco County, she was interested in preserving the stories of early pioneers and began conducting oral interviews in the 1980s.
After Ernie Kuck died in 1992, she focused on interviewing people who had known or worked with him.
As Marilyn learned of the many facets of Ernie’s life, she felt compelled to write his biography. Twenty years later, after moving to Down Manor in Hood River, she joined a writing group and began writing stories about Ernie. In 2015, at a the age of 93, Marilyn published Remembering Ernie Kuck.
Marilyn had a profound influence on others. She is remembered for her pragmatism when facing life’s challenges, her loving acceptance of people with differing values, her hospitality and good cooking, her compassion and caregiving to family and friends, and her remarkable optimism and sense of humor.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Walter Ericksen (2002) and survived by her daughter, Evelyn Ana Moskowitz and husband Steven of Long Beach, Calif.; her son, Dan Ericksen, and wife Kay, The Dalles; and daughter Irene Hill, and husband Jim, Appleton, Wash.; and eight grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
A private graveside service was held Saturday, March 5. There will be a memorial service on Friday afternoon, April 15 (time to be announced later) at the United Church of Christ in The Dalles, Ore.
Memorial gifts may be made to Heart of Hospice, 2621 Wasco St., Hood River, OR 97031
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