Marie Johanna Bakke Bremner was born Aug. 23, 1929 to Norwegian immigrants, Magnus and Inga Bakke in Bismarck, N.D. Marie’s father came to the United States through Ellis Island in 1923, and her mother followed in 1926.
As a small child, Marie spoke only Norwegian. In 1932, the growing family left North Dakota to find work in Wenatchee. It wasn’t long before her father’s dream of creating a ski hill took the family north to Leavenworth.
It was in these early years in Leavenworth that Marie’s mother introduced her to needlework. As a child, Marie spent her rare free time much the same as she did throughout her life: with needlework in her hand. Marie was renowned for her skill with a needle: embroidery, knitting, quilting, cross stich, and traditional Norwegian embroidery, Hardanger. Inspired by her Norwegian heritage, Marie taught herself Hardanger and was considered a master embroiderer. Marie loved to teach the art and spent many hours sharing her love of Hardanger with local ladies; an activity she thoroughly enjoyed. Marie was also an accomplished pianist and taught herself rosemaling, Norwegian decorative painting.
Marie graduated from the University of Washington in the spring of 1951, and began teaching English for Republic High School that fall. Back in those days, teachers taught a bit of everything, and Marie was no exception. From Home Economics to Chemistry and girls basketball, Marie had a variety of teaching experiences. Many of Marie’s students still live in Republic and remember her fondly.
In August of 1952, Marie married Donald George Bremner. They settled in a small white house in Republic and started a family.
Marie left teaching in 1953 to become the first female WSU County Extension Agent. Marie retired from the extension office in 1986 after 31 years. During her time working for the people of Ferry County, Marie served on numerous boards and committees, including 13 years on the Colville Indian Housing Authority and 9 years on the hospital board. Marie credited her time spent working with Colville tribal members for inspiring her to learn more of the arts of her own heritage.
Upon her retirement, Marie ran for county commissioner and served two terms. There she achieved a first for women as she was appointed as the Regional Board of County Commissioners Chair. Marie again retired, but continued her community involvement working with the local Housing Authority and The Washington State Long-term Care and Aging committee. She spent her life committed to service.
Marie was preceded in death by her husband, Don; and infant son, David. She is survived by three children and seven grandchildren: daughter, Karin (Don) Hall of Republic and grandsons, Corey, Kristofer and Donald; son, Dean (Liz) Bremner of Republic and granddaughters, Katy and Johanna; daughter, Jean Bremner-Booher (Glen) of Republic and grandsons, Kalin and Torrey. She is also survived by brothers, Kjell and Knute Bakke; and sister, Ethell Gherig all of Leavenworth. Additionally, Marie had eight great-grandchildren, Zander, Kaylee, Matthew, Payton, Danielle, Allison, Mason and Derek.
Services will be held Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 11 a.m. at the Republic Presbyterian Church.
Bergh Funeral Service of Republic is in care of arrangements.