Cover photo for Margaret Olive Pederson's Obituary
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1921 Margaret 2024

Margaret Olive Pederson

October 1, 1921 — April 19, 2024


Margaret Olive Pederson of Glenwood, MN, died at age 102 on April 19, 2024 in St. Cloud, MN. She was born in Dalton, MN, Oct. 1, 1921 to parents Albert and Anna Molberg. 

She was dedicated by her parents to be a missionary to China, because her father was prevented for medical reasons from going. Margaret readily embraced her parents' desire, and for the first 20 years of her life every decision was made with this goal in mind.

Margaret grew up in a rural parsonage with lots of friends and activities, and attended her elementary years in a one-room schoolhouse. At age six she started piano lessons, which sparked a 96-year love affair with the piano.

She was valedictorian of her high school class at Augustana Academy, Canton, SD, studied at Lutheran Bible Institute, Minneapolis, MN, and at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD. Margaret graduated magna cum laude from St. Olaf  College, Northfield, MN, and earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota.

During college years Margaret redirected her Christian service aspirations closer to home, because China was becoming closed to international missionaries. She married high school classmate Oliver Pederson on Dec. 30, 1945 after he returned from WWII military service. Oliver became an ordained pastor after many years of study, and Margaret worked alongside Oliver for 15 years as a pastor's wife in Lutheran parishes.

They began ministry in 1952 at Barsness and Chippewa Falls churches in the Glenwood area, which, to quote Margaret, was "an absolutely wonderful experience for us." In 1960, they moved to Trinity Lutheran Church in Arlington, SD. During their time in the Glenwood area, Margaret commuted to St. Cloud State University to secure her teaching credentials, which she used in Arlington as a part time teacher.

The family moved to Minneapolis, MN, in 1967 so Margaret and Oliver could further their education. After receiving her master's degree, Margaret worked as department head of social services at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and at Fairview Hospital where she made lifelong friends. She continued to work part time as a social worker until age 82. She was recognized as a certified social worker by the National Association of Social Workers in 1974.

Margaret lived with her daughter in Louisville, KY, for over a decade before returning to her dear Glenwood in 2015. She was well cared for at Parkview Court, and quickly connected with the people of her new home. It was of utmost significance to Margaret to help start and grow the BeKind initiative to promote kindness in Pope County.  

She was recognized for her community involvement with an Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Award from Ann Bickle Heritage House, and from Glenwood Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce with a Volunteer of the Year Award, received on behalf of all the volunteers of BeKind. In 2021 she received the Gold Standard Optimal Aging Award from the Trager Institute of the University of Louisville.

Margaret thrived in rural, small town, and big city settings. Wherever, and whatever Margaret was involved in, her keen mind and boundless energy helped her use her abilities to lead and organize. An enduring motivation in life was to help others and to encourage them to be the best they can be. Her positive attitude was contagious, and people were drawn to her. Being with people fed her spirit. Margaret fully engaged life, every minute of it.

A major source of joy for her was music. As an accomplished musician, she gave piano recitals, accompanied choirs, directed choirs, and was an avid concertgoer. Even at age 99, she began learning one of Edvard Grieg's lyrical piano pieces.

Margaret modeled lifelong learning. While living with her daughter, she audited dozens of college and graduate school courses, and helped author a peer-reviewed journal article. Words were her thing. She loved to read, and to play Scrabble. And she wrote 10 memoirs!

She was a child of the Great Depression, and consequently, she was noticeably frugal. Nothing was ever wasted and always repurposed. Her frugality allowed her children to have many enriching experiences, perhaps most importantly, excellent educations resulting in MD, MBA, DMin, and PhD degrees.

As an older woman, Margaret had the opportunity to contribute to literary arts and performance arts through the Minnesota Board on Aging. She wrote a regular column, "Going my Way," under the pen name, "Meg Bergson," for The Senior Spotlight, a board publication.

The board also sponsored "Whisper Minnesota," a project to discuss ideas on social attitudes toward older women. Margaret was deeply involved, and the project culminated in the presentation of "The Crystal Quilt," a living quilt of choreographed performance art by over 400 older women on the main floor of the IDS Tower in downtown Minneapolis.

She had the pleasure of traveling later in life, often with Phoebe and her daughters, and visited Alaska, England, Ireland, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and at long last, her beloved China.

Margaret is survived by her sister Beatrice, children Phoebe, Luke, Nathanael, grandchildren Mark, Julie, Lisa, David, Ann, Kate, Isaac, Eric, Charissa, Curtis, ten great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and a myriad of friends. Margaret was preceded in death by husband Oliver, son Jonathan, and brother and sister A. Luther Molberg and Constance Molberg. 

A funeral service for Margaret will be held at Glenwood Lutheran Church, Glenwood, MN, on Monday, May 13, at 11 am Central Time, followed by a luncheon at Lakeside Restaurant in Glenwood. Visitation begins at the church at 10 am, and the service will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend. Please go to on May 13 to get the link.  Margaret will be buried in Lake Hazel Cemetery, Benson, MN.

A Louisville gathering to remember and celebrate Margaret’s life will be held on Sunday, May 19th from 4-6 pm at the home of her daughter, Phoebe Wood. 

Memorial gifts in Margaret's honor may be given to Family Scholar House, 402 Reg Smith Circle, Louisville, KY, 40208, or to the BeKind initiative in Pope County, MN. Make checks payable to West Central Initiative with BeKind in the memo line, PO Box 318, Fergus Falls, MN, 56538-0318.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Margaret Olive Pederson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Monday, May 13, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Memorial Service

Monday, May 13, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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