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Marie Kopach

October 21, 1924 – May 3, 2019

Marie Kopach Gleason
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Marie Kopach Gleason

Marie Gleason was born in Fargo, North Dakota in 1924, eldest daughter of Olga and Michael Kopach of Fargo, North Dakota. Her sisters are Lorraine (deceased) and Betty who lives in Fargo, North Dakota. Marie Gleason, 94, made her transition on May 3, 2019.

With her husband, Thomas Patrick Gleason, who preceded her in death in 2010, and to whom she was married for sixty-three years, she enjoyed dual Canadian-American citizenship. She is survived by her sister Betty Stensgard, and her three children, Julie (Bill) Gleason-Comstock, Jessica(Ted) Hoppe and Thomas (Sue) Gleason, as well as three grandchildren, Sean and Kristin Hoppe, and Billy Comstock. She was preceded in death by her son, John.

Marie attended Sacred Heart Academy in Fargo and went first to Concordia College in Moorhead, then to the University of Minnesota, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1946. She worked briefly for the Minneapolis Tribune where she said she interviewed Hubert Humphrey.

Marie met her future husband Tom at a dance mixer near the University of Minnesota and they married in Fargo. Tom received the GI Bill to attend the University from his service in the United States Navy and Air Force, graduating with Bachelor and Master degrees from the University of Minnesota. Marie and Tom lived in Alabama, Georgia and Wyoming as well as St. Paul, and the wonderful University Village for graduate students when their children were born.

They eventually moved to Wayzata, Minnesota where Tom taught and Marie continued to write journalism pieces. Marie and Tom moved to Paris, France, Ansbach, Augsburg, Nellingen and Crailsheim, Germany, where Tom worked for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools as a teacher and principal. They returned briefly to live in St. Paul, and Tom completed a Specialist degree before accepting a position with the American International School (AIS) in New Delhi, India. Marie edited a journalism literary journal for AIS.

They returned to Michigan State University in East Lansing for Tom to complete his doctorate in Comparative International Education, while Marie completed a Master’s Degree in Journalism. Tom and Marie then moved to Moncton, New Brunswick where Tom taught at the Universite de Moncton and Marie wrote extensively about the French and English speaking communities of the area. Her writing was considered a bridge between the communities at the time.

During the North Dakota Centennial in 1989, Marie, as a playwright, wrote “Prairie Summer: A Trilogy Plus a Sequel, a series of four plays, “The Goose River Settlement,” “The Mourning Dove,” “Three Letters from France,” and “The Silver Crown.” These four plays, written, produced and performed by descendants of Dacotah’s Norwegian homesteaders, celebrated her family’s ancestry. The plays were produced in Mayville, North Dakota at Mayville State University and are archived there and at North Dakota State University. Many of her relatives celebrated their deep connections to their families and communities by working and acting in the series of plays.

In their final move to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Marie became Editor of the Memorial University Gazette for 10 years. Memorial University preserved a summary of “Prairie Summer” in their web archives (www.ucs.mun.ca/~mgleason/index.html. Both she and Tom retired from Memorial University.

With the passing of her husband, Marie moved to Windsor, Ontario to be closer to her children, where she resided for the last nine years, first at Royal Oak Village, and finally the Village of St. Clair. Her family continues to celebrate her life with a Memorial Service for Marie and Tom Gleason, her husband, on Saturday, July 6, 11 am - 2 pm at the University of Minnesota Campus Club in Minneapolis, Minnesota.