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February 10, 1947 – July 22, 2022



February 10, 1947 – July 22, 2022

Rev. Marlene Whiterabbit Helgemo, So tt ti to twik (“Voice Above All”) (Ho-Chunk Nation), passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family on July 22, 2022.  Marlene is preceded in death by parents Murray Whiterabbit and Lilac Goodbear, stepmother Valborg Whiterabbit, brother Ronald Whiterabbit, and sister Sharyn Whiterabbit.  Marlene is survived by spouse Harvey, daughters Wendy Helgemo and Heidi (Glenn) Tucker, and grandchildren Adalina and Dalia.   Born in Portage, Wisconsin, Marlene grew up along the shores of Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin.  She loved to swim in the cold waters of Lake Superior and camp on Madeline Island during the beautiful summers of her youth and later with her family.  Devoted to God and service to Native American communities, Marlene graduated from Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary and became the first Native American woman ordained in the Lutheran church.  As a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, she served the faithful people of All Nations Indian Church in the heart of the Indian community of Minneapolis.

Throughout decades of service to the Church and Indian communities, Marlene served in many leadership positions of local, tribal, regional and national organizations and was a co-founder of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.

Marlene and Harvey were endlessly supportive of their wider community, consistently present to support others and showing up in the places where it mattered most, lifting up everyone in their communities and especially caring for the most vulnerable.  Marlene was in touch with hundreds by email, text, Facebook or telephone, who showed persistence in her love and brought everyone warmth and a sparkle along with her signature purple eyeshadow.

Marlene had many favorite places on this earth: the Red Cliff reservation along Lake Superior, Germany, the Southwest, Las Vegas, the Rosebud reservation on the prairies in South Dakota and her home in Plymouth where she and Harvey lived for more than 40 years.

In lieu of flowers, donations (checks) may be made in her honor to All Nations Indian Church, 1515 23rd Street East, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (Memo: Marlene).

Funeral Service Tuesday, July 26th, 2022 at 12 Noon Central Lutheran Church, 333 South 12th Street, in Minneapolis.  Visitation AT THE CHURCH Tuesday, July 26th from 10:00 A.M. until time of services.



1 Guestbook Entry

  1. geneva lawrence

    A great loss to the Native American’s everywhere, I knew Marlene and we used her church for funerals. Shocked to hear of her passing. Condolences to her family. God Bless


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