Marilyn Halverson Bamford
We are heartbroken to share that our dear mother, wife, sister, friend, aunt, godmother, and neighbor, Marilyn Halverson Bamford, breathed her way out of this world at age 76 with amazing grace as the sun beams illuminated the fiery sugar maple leaves, on September 27th at 1:10 PM. She was surrounded by her daughters Maria Bamford Cassidy and Sarah Bamford Seidelmann and husband of 55 years, Dr. Joel Thomas Mitchell Bamford. We are grateful, thanks to the gracious and calming care of the Essentia Hospice team, that allowed her to find comfort and remain in the beautiful home she created with those she loved. We are also grateful to Dr. Jim Allison, the Nobel Prize winning physician who created the chemotherapy drug Keytruda that gave us nearly two “bonus” years with her, to her wonderful oncologist Dr. Brett Friday, and for all of the medicine and prayers that carried her.
Marilyn Bamford adored living and loving and we know she is now in heaven, free from Weight Watchers points-counting. Born and raised in Marquette, MI November 8, 1944 to Mary and Lynn Halverson as the 3rd of three children - a wonderful “surprise” born 12 years after her closest sibling, preceded in death by brother oldest George Halverson and survived by her beloved elder sister Elizabeth “Deda” Treloar, residing in Florida.
After high school, she went on to attend Kalamazoo College for 2 years and then transferred and graduated with honors in 1965 from the U of MIchigan Ann Arbor with B.A. in Education (Phi Kappa Phi) She was a member of the sorority Alpha Chi Omega. at the University of Michigan. After a life-changing Christmas holiday blind date in a Florida trailer park with Baltimore medical student, Joel Bamford, who swept her off her feet with a combo of “bedroom eyes” and his final acquiescence to eating a whole bowl of potato chips he had earlier refused. Joel and Marilyn married June 22, 1965 at in Baltimore, Maryland where the groom was attending medical school at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Marilyn then began teaching 2nd grade in Baltimore public schools.
A year later, moving to Cooperstown, NY for her new husband’s Internal medicine training, she served as caseworker for the Otsego County of Department of Social Services and gave birth to her first daughter, Sarah in 1967, beginning what would be a lifetime of combining of love, family, community and service. From Cooperstown, they relocated due to military service and lived in Holt Michigan, New London, CT and in Port Hueneme, CA where Marilyn gave birth to her 2nd daughter, Maria in 1970.
Though she claimed to be an introvert, or an “I” on the Meyers-Briggs Personality tests that she would give to friends interested in learning more about themselves, Marilyn became a gifted connector. She maintained lifelong friends and contacts that filled her well-thumbed address book and later, Facebook account. She managed memberships in a birthday group (40 years), PEO sisterhood (serving one year as its president), book groups and bible study groups.
She had a deep passion for travel and adventure. The only country she hadn’t quite gotten around too was Morroco. South Africa was her favorite. With a natural curiosity and celebration of each stranger’s individuality, she also had an uncanny ability to find a 6th degree of separation with anyone in the world “Oh! You’re from Hyderabad? We have a dear friend who’s daughter took a job in Mumbai! I love India! Do you like to read? What’s your favorite book about that area of the world? I have always wanted to learn more about it! Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy and The Toss of A Lemon by Padma Viswanathan are my two personal favorites.”
A lifelong Christian, her relationship with Jesus Christ gave her infinite solace early in childhood and later inspired her progressive politics fighting for the Democratic Farmer Labor Party. She had hoped to live long enough to see the Presidency of Joe Biden.
Up until 3 weeks before her death, she was joyfully making calls on behalf of Quinn Nystrom and she enjoyed speaking with voters on the phone. Her ability to patiently, in fact gleefully, engage with any customer service agent for hours was a miracle to behold for anyone who’s ever been on the phone with AT&T.
Her professional resume demonstrates a dedication to facilitating her community’s spiritual and emotional health. She was an ordained deacon for Holy Apostles Church in West Duluth, and a licensed marriage and family therapist among others.
She was always voraciously interested in and excited about the lives of others, whether relative, friend, neighbor or stranger (soon to become a friend). She volunteered with the Episcopal Retreat Center Board, The Women’s Coalition, Hospice St. Luke’s, and as a volunteer chaplain at Miller Dwan Medical center.
Additional involvement was extensive and includes but is not limited to: Co-chair Capital Campaign for Lake Superior Family Justice Center, Capital Campaign Committee for Amberwing Center for Children and Young Adult Mental Health, Board Chair of Safe Haven Shelter for Battered Women for 3 terms. And she dearly enjoyed teaching chaplaincy students in Cameroon and Bangalore, India in 2009 and 2010.
What can’t be put across in the few words here is what a force of nurture Marilyn has been to people touched by her presence. She’s inspired and encouraged both of her daughters to creative and service pursuits. She taught us that we could be “whatever we want to be” when we grew up and we believed her: becoming a pathologist turned shamanic healer and a stand up comedian. Though she was very shy about her own gifts and contributions, she was extremely generous with her support of the artistic pursuits of others - even when they included her in a humorous light as she was featured in many of her daughter Maria’s comedic performances - either as herself or with her daughter or Emmy-winning actress Mary Kay Place playing her.
A consummate gardener, she was always so happy with her hands in the earth tending her beautiful perennial beds and trees. She made flowers, people and organizations bloom with her great care and love.
Memorial services will be held on Zoom (Please watch her Caring Bridge Site for details) on Saturday October 17 at 11 am. Donations would be welcomed in her memory at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Miller-Dwan Foundation, Life House Center for Youth, Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community or at Safe Haven Shelter. Each was an organization in which she believed and supported. Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, Duluth, 218-727-3555.