Marion Eldridge Gillespie
Inducted Saturday, September 21, 2013
Marion Eldridge Gillespie graduated from Moorhead High School in 1926 where she was voted female student “most likely to succeed.” During high school, she was involved in leadership roles in Wig and Mask Club, Glee Club, Girls Boosters, Pin Pan Club, mixed chorus, declamatory and debate, and she served as class secretary and Chi-Kio editor. Gillespie attended North Dakota State University for one year and Moorhead State Teachers College for one year. She took night classes at Concordia College while working full-time as a secretary/bookkeeper for Hamm’s Distributing Co.
Marion married Hamilton S. Gillespie III in 1944, and they operated Gillespie Studio where she helped with customers and kept the books. Gillespie was a much-loved teacher at Interstate Business College in Fargo for 26 years. She taught typing, shorthand and business English and organized assembly programs for the school. A global traveler, Gillespie operated Gillespie Tours as a hobby, organizing trips every summer to places in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Gillespie gave humorous readings around the area for more than 60 years, acted as emcee and entertainer for various groups, and entertained troops stationed in Washington state as a comic during World War II.
As a young woman, Gillespie worked with children in AOUW and Campfire Girls. Gillespie was a president of BPW in Fargo, coordinated BPW Christmas gift distribution at the Cass County Nursing Home for more than 30 years, was president of the Fargo Elkettes for four years, planned programs for Eventide Nursing Home, volunteered with North Dakota Blood Services for more than 25 years, and served on parent-teacher associations and city committees, including one to study the idea of fluoridating Moorhead’s water supply.
In her retirement, Gillespie participated in numerous clubs and volunteer activities, including Altrusa, Homemakers, Kringen Lodge No. 25 of Sons of Norway, Retired Teachers, The Village and the Heritage Hjemkomst. Gillespie was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church where she served on committees, planned and led trips for teens to national gatherings, led adult trips through her group “Jolly Jaunts,” and sang in the Cathedral Choir for 78 years.
Marion and her husband, “Ham,” lived in Moorhead, Minn., and had three children, Ann Mathison, Gene Gullekson and Hamilton Gillespie IV, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She died in Fergus Falls, Minn., on April 14, 2006, at the age of 98.