ELCA NEWS SERVICE
July 14, 2010
Marj Leegard, Lutheran Woman Today Columnist, Dies
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Beloved author, columnist and speaker Marjorie "Marj" L. Leegard, Detroit Lakes, Minn., died July 12 after a long history of heart disease. She was 89. Most notably Leegard was a columnist for Lutheran Woman Today, the magazine of Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
A funeral service for Leegard is scheduled for 2 p.m. July 16 at Richwood Lutheran Church, Detroit Lakes. Leegard became a member of Richwood in 1944, after she wed Jerome Leegard there in 1942. She has served as president of the congregation and the Richwood Lutheran Parish Council.
"Through her writing, speaking and in conversations, Marj has consistently invited us to live in the wonder of God's grace," the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, wrote in a July 14 letter to Leegard's husband, family and friends.
"Marj has taught all of us about the beauty and challenges of life in rural America," wrote Hanson. "She has affirmed again and again how important rural ministries are in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America."
The Leegards lived on a farm outside of Detroit Lakes their entire married life.
Leegard wrote the book "Give Us This Day" and authored a column by the same title in Lutheran Woman Today from 1994 to 2009.
"We rejoice in Marj's many years of writing," said Kate Sprutta Elliott, editor, Lutheran Woman Today. "We are grateful for her life and witness, which has been an inspiration to many. Anyone who has met Marj would remember her good-heartedness and warmth. The readers of the magazine and Women of the ELCA staff will certainly miss her," said Elliott.
Sue Edison-Swift initiated Leegard's column in Lutheran Woman Today and served as managing editor of the magazine during most of Leegard's tenure there. Edison-Swift now serves as associate director for ELCA Global Mission Support.
"Marj was a theologians' theologian, a chaplain to synod bishops, and a liturgical storyteller. As someone who has walked in the valley of grief and pain, her extraordinary witness of faith and hope was especially powerful," said Edison-Swift. "I'm grieving her loss even as I know she'll be with me as part of the great cloud of witnesses. My daughter, Anne Edison-Albright, and I became appended family to the Leegards."
"In their home I saw a large framed map of the United States. Jerome had put push-pins, marking all of the places that Marj had traveled to speak. He was so proud of her," said Edison-Swift.
In addition to her writing, Leegard led numerous Bible studies across the church and served on the board of regents at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. Concordia is a college of the ELCA.
In 1969 Leegard was elected American Lutheran Church Women (ALCW) synod president and became a member of the ALCW Board of Regents. The American Lutheran Church was an ELCA predecessor church body.
Leegard is survived by her husband, their son, Jerome "Jim" Jr., four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Preceding Marj in death is daughter Laurie, who died at age 27 of cancer.
In a May 1998 article titled "Groundedness," Marj Leegard wrote: "When we are planting vines and flowers (at Laurie's gravesite), I mumble, 'Why are we doing this? She is not here. She is not here.' And then I know that God created her body and gave us the gift of a daughter for earth years and for eternity. There is thankfulness in the rush of color, the blooms of the flowering crab apple trees. We must have a place of remembrance, and in the old cemetery we find one place."
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Information about Lutheran Woman Today is at http://www.ELCA.org/LutheranWomanToday on the ELCA website.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com