Colleagues, friends and family remember Marlene Colvin, as a caring community member with a deep commitment to education.
A “true professional educator,” Colvin died June 9 at age 73 in Anoka after being diagnosed with cancer in February. A funeral has yet to be scheduled due to restrictions on gathering sizes, but the family hopes to have a service in mid- to late August.
Colvin devoted her life to education. She not only taught for decades, but worked to promote literacy after her retirement.
Colvin began working at the Anoka-Hennepin School District in 1969 at Hoover Elementary. Over the years she also worked at Franklin Elementary and as a reading specialist.
“Marlene dedicated her career to education as a elementary teacher and a reading specialist for 30 years,” Greyson Colvin, her son, wrote in an email. “After retirement she continued her devotion to learning by serving on several educational boards and community organizations in Anoka County.”
Colvin served on the board of the Anoka-Hennepin Education Foundation and was involved in Kiwanis. Roger Giroux, a former superintendent and close friend of Colvin, described her as an intelligent, kind, caring and competent person.
“Marlene was a true professional educator, with really deep concerns and understandings of the students who she had,” Giroux said.
While he had known her professionally for a little while, one of the first memories Giroux shared about Colvin was when his daughter needed a piano accompanist and Colvin volunteered.
It was indicative of what Giroux saw as Colvin’s dedication to helping others.
“Those who called her friend, and there are many, will tell you that she was just an extraordinarily pleasant person who was really interested in what you were about,” Giroux said.
She would often go the extra mile to make people feel appreciated. Anoka-Hennepin Education Foundation Executive Director Tess DeGeest described Colvin as a class act, both in the way she carried herself and how she treated other people.
“She was always quick to recognize others and to acknowledge their contributions and to make them feel good in the process,” DeGeest said.
DeGeest first met Colvin after being hired by the foundation, following Colvin’s retirement.
“She was always a strategic thinker, and yet always present in the moment, again with a joy to her — I’ll miss that,” DeGeest said.
DeGeest recalled how Colvin would bring homemade cookies into the office for Christmas. After DeGeest shared her nostalgia for rosette cookies, Colvin made sure to bring in some for her every year.
“She led by doing, and she was a true friend of those she worked with,” Giroux said.
Colvin was always dedicated to the mission of education, Giroux said. Anytime the Anoka-Hennepin Education Foundation hosted an event, Colvin would make sure there were books available for the kids participating.
Colvin’s dedication to literacy and reading also reached into her personal life.
“She was a proud mother and grandmother of twin toddlers, who she inspired to love reading,” Greyson wrote. “Last December she sent 25 individually wrapped books to her 2 year-old grandsons in New York. They opened one each day of advent until they got to fly to Minnesota for Christmas.”
Colvin was a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka, where the funeral is expected to be scheduled.