Donald Edward Marpe, 99, of Duluth, MN passed away Friday June 9, 2023, in St. Luke’s Hospital. He was born on April 27, 1924, in St. Paul. MN, son to August and Lillian Marpe. Don moved to a farm in Lakeside Township, Aitkin Co. in 1935. He was a long-time member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, serving on several boards and holding many church offices. Don became acquainted with his future wife and life partner, Ellen Hambleton in 1940 while riding the same school bus to High School but remained unknown to her. He graduated from Isle High School in 1942 and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps serving from 1942-1945 (Asiatic-Pacific medal earned, with 2 battle stars). For service during the battle for Okinawa his unit was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and later took part in the initial occupation of Japan. Don found Ellen Hambleton again in 1946 and married her May 30, 1947, resulting in the birth of 5 outstanding children after the marriage. He served in the Marine Corps for the second time from 1950-1951 and was released to Inactive Duty during the Korean War when the Marine Corps released many Marines having WWII combat duty.
He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1957 with a BEE degree (Electrical Engineering) with distinction. Don was a life member of UMAA, Eta Kappa Nu, and Tau Beta Pi. Don’s first engineering position began at Engineering Research Associates in St. Paul which later became Remington Rand Univac. At Univac he designed high speed computer logic circuits for several major computer systems. In 1963 Don left Univac and became Principal Electrical Engineer and an engineering manager at MTS Systems Corp., Eden Prairie, where he found a sufficient number of technical challenges to be happy for 23 years, retiring in 1986. He holds three US Patents, two from work at Univac and one from MTS Systems Corp... Don coached Little League baseball and served on the Hockey Association of Eden Prairie Board during HAEP’s formative years. He holds a private pilot’s license, and was part owner of two aircraft, and had owned a motorcycle, utilizing each for many enjoyable long-distance trips. He retired to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where he and Ellen built a home on Lake Superior near Copper Harbor. Don served on the Eagle Harbor, Michigan Township and as boat crewman on the Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Rebecca out of Copper Harbor, participating assistance to boaters in distress in support of Coast Guard Station Hancock, Michigan.
At the request of his youngest son Don began writing an account of how it was to grow up on a Minnesota farm. This “chronical” expanded and became the writing of “Well, Anyway”, an account of the growing up of all of the family and which led to many other writings such as his experiences in the Marine Corps and trips to the boundary waters before and after that area became the present BWCA. (Several of these stories have been published in The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Reader, Volume 1, Barry J. Johnson, Editor). He loved camping and canoeing in the boundary waters and beginning in 1947 with his first trip with Ellen, introduced his children and other family members, including his dad, as well as many friends. He also was many times a successful deer hunter and even when he missed that easy shot, he enjoyed hunting from his favorite deer stands “across the swamp” from the farm where he grew up. Don retired from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula “snow country” in 2004, taking up residence on Park Point, in Duluth, MN in a second retirement.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister Carole (Harry) Nelson.
He is survived by his ever-loving wife Ellen, daughters Kathleen Larson of Fridley, MN, Karen Zutler, of Fridley, MN, and Ramona (Ron) Hutton of Rockledge, FL, sons Joel (Diane) Marpe of Bentonville, AR, and Timothy (Beth) Marpe of Eden Prairie, MN a brother Wayne (Faye) Marpe of Meridian, ID, eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be held on Thursday June 15, 2023, from 1:00pm until the 2:00PM Funeral Service in Peace in Christ Lutheran Church. 5007 Maple Grove Rd. Hermantown, MN 55811. Burial will be in Fort Snelling National Cemetery on Wednesday June 21, 2023 at 12:30PM. Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home. 600 E. 2nd St. Duluth, MN 55805. 218-727-3555.