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Rev. Marino S. Melsted

Rev. Marino S. Melsted, 89, of Sioux Falls, SD, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Good Samaritan Luther Manor in Sioux Falls, SD.

Rev. Marino S. Melsted

The Funeral Service will be at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 2, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 909 W. 33rd Street, Sioux Falls, SD. At a later date, the interment will be at Thingvalla Lutheran Cemetery in Mountain, ND.

Visitation with the family present to greet friends will be from 5:00 – 7:00 pm Monday, April 1, at Miller Funeral Home Downtown, 507 S. Main Ave., Sioux Falls, SD.

Marino was born September 6, 1934, in Grafton, ND, to Magnus and Inga Melsted. The eldest of six children, Marino grew up in a small, four-room home in the Icelandic farming community of Edinburgh, ND, and attended K-8 at a one-room schoolhouse. A native Icelandic speaker, Marino did not learn to speak English until he attended school. From a young age, he worked with his father on the family farm, where they grew a variety of crops, from potatoes to wheat. He attended Park River High School, where he played football, and graduated in 1954. After high school, he attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, where he received a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

Following college, Marino heeded the advice of one of his professors and took a government job working for the U.S. Navy at the Naval Weapons Center (NWC) in China Lake, CA, where he worked for 22 years from 1960-1981. During his “bachelor days” in China Lake, he became an active member of Grace Lutheran Church, Ridgecrest, CA, where he taught Sunday School and helped with the youth group. He was an avid photographer who enjoyed taking photos of the California landscape and desert wildflowers.

In 1965, Marino met Marlys Mixdorf at Holden Village in Chelan, WA, because she was late to dinner and the only place left to sit was across from him. They struck up a conversation that continued for 46 years until 2013, when Marlys died from complications following surgery. Marino and Marlys had three children: Lisa, Nathan, and Margretta (Gretta).

During his days at NWC, Marino pursued a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He also took classes at the Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, CA, before pursuing a career change to the Lutheran ministry at age 46. He attended Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, IA, and the family moved to Dubuque from California in 1981 so he could pursue his calling. Following graduation from the seminary, he served two parishes—East Freeborn Lutheran Church, Albert Lea, MN (1986-1998) and St. Paul Lutheran, Lakota, IA. Marino and Marlys retired to Sioux Falls, SD, in 2011.

Marino was known for his gentle manner, calm presence, patience, strength, and depth of thought. He had a keen interest in politics and current events, was active in his local Democratic party, and passed his strong sense of fairness and social justice to his children. Despite not being able to carry a tune himself, he was a lifelong lover of classical music, enjoyed attending classical concerts, and was an avid supporter of Minnesota Public Radio and the Minnesota Orchestra. He was a wonderful husband and father who was always supportive and loving toward his family.

Marino is survived by his daughter, Lisa, Los Angeles, CA; son Nathan, daughter-in-law Ahree Lee and granddaughter Mia, Los Angeles, CA; and daughter Gretta Van Schepen, son-in-law Dan Van Schepen and grandsons Matthew and Jacob. He is also survived by his brother, Waldemar, Valhalla, ND, and sister, Mary Fiess, and brother-in-law, Craig Fiess, Sacramento, CA, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Marlys, and sisters, Elin Mathewson, Thorey Melsted, and Ruth Melsted.

In the last years of his life, Marino battled vascular dementia and aphasia, which was ironic for a preacher and someone who was known for talking to his family for hours on the phone. Although he eventually lost his ability to communicate verbally, his presence communicated who he was to others, and even strangers often gravitated to his warmth and kindness. He will be greatly missed by his family and those whose lives he touched.