Dorothy Spencer

Dorothy "Dottie" Spencer

1927 - 2018

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Obituary of Dorothy Spencer

Dorothy Anne Irene Cederberg Spencer - known to all as “Dottie” - was born 29 November 1927 in Niobe, North Dakota. Her parents were the Reverend Carl Edward Cederberg, a Lutheran mission minister, and Annie Johnson Cederberg. Rev Cederberg was called to a succession of tiny Swedish Lutheran churches. Dottie was born in Niobe, toddled in Chisholm, Minnesota, attended elementary school in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, and graduated from high school in Churchbridge, Saskatchewan, where she was the valedictorian of the (4 person) class of 1945. In 1949, Dottie graduated with a degree in Mathematics from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. For the next year, she taught in an inner-city school in Colona, Illinois. Northwest Orient Airlines hired Dottie as a stewardess, then the most glamorous job in the world. On 3 January, 1953, Dottie married Merrill Harvey Spencer. She left the glamorous life for a farm in Ceresco Township, 7 miles up a gravel road from Madelia, Minnesota.

Harv wrote, “The one thing I did right in life was to ask Dottie to marry me. Our kids have all been very successful and whether they know it or not, they owe their mother a lot for the values she instilled in them. God is good!” Her children certainly know it. Dottie was an extraordinary mother to a handicapped daughter and five rambunctious, headstrong boys. She gave them all strong discipline, but a free rein. They loved her extravagantly. She truly loved her son-in-law and daughters-in-law as much as she loved her own children, and each of them loved her as a mother. Her greatest joy and pride were her grandchildren. When they were small, the high point of their (and Harv’s and Dottie’s) summer was Cousins Week, when the grandchildren gathered in Madelia. They, more than anyone else, will miss their Grandma.

Dottie’s best memories were family celebrations, especially the annual holidays with the entire family, Cousins Weeks, travels and camping with the family (noting that every camping photo showed her cooking), and extensive foreign and domestic travels with Harv. She loved making Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, which all her children and grandchildren faithfully attended, up to the last year of her life. Besides the love, discipline and respect for education, her children thank her most for feeding them wonderful food - all kinds of food. She made such exotic (and faithful) delights as paella, cassoulet, couscous, chicken kiev - and krup kakar and Monster cookies. It wasn’t only for her family; every night, there was at least one extra child, and usually three or four, at dinner. It wasn’t enough to raise six children and run the domestic side of a large farm. She was a tireless advocate for the disabled. Governor Wendell Anderson appointed Dottie to his Advisory Council for Developmental Disabilities. She served on the boards of the Minnesota Epilepsy League and the Friends of Madelia Library. She was a very active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Madelia. She taught Mathematics at Madelia High School. She led the campaign that raised over $165,000 for the new library. She ran the food shelf, providing food to the hungry in Madelia. She was named Madelia’s Home Town Hero. And she played bridge. After Harv died in 2014, Dottie moved to Episcopal Homes in St Paul. The highlights of her life there were bridge, gardening on her terrace, her many new friends, visits with Mickey Underfoot and classic movies every Thursday night with her sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

Dorothy "Dottie" Spencer age 90, died on May 4, 2018, at the Episcopal Church Home Gardens in Saint Paul, MN.

Dottie is survived by her children and their spouses: Lee Anne and Louis Ramaker of Rochester, Minnesota, David and Jane Spencer of Guilford, Connecticut, Scott Spencer and Lynn Indihar of St Paul, Paul and Angela Spencer of St Paul, Eric and Barbara Spencer of Omaha and Steven Spencer of Minneapolis. She is also survived by her exchange student son, Julio Porras of Santiago, Chile. She will live in the loving memory of her grandchildren, Jack (and his wife, Eva Cohen), Frank, Meryl, Jessica, Lily, Shannon, Matt and Will Spencer. She is survived by her siblings, Sue Palm of Minneapolis, Carla Burgason and David Cederberg of Seattle and Barbara Edwards of Apache Junction, Arizona. She also is survived by many nieces and nephews, who agree, “Dottie was my favorite aunt.” Dottie was preceded in death by her beloved Harv, by her infant daughter, Janet Lee, by her parents and by her infant brother, Carl.

Dottie’s only failing was her inability to carry a tune. This did not prevent her from belting out the old Lutheran hymns in church, or from participating in the annual Messiah sing-along.


Visitation 1

5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Sturm Funeral Home, Pilgrim Chapel
303 E. Main St.
Madelia, Minnesota, United States

Service Information

11:00 am
Friday, May 11, 2018
Trinity Lutheran Church-Madelia
406 W. Main St.
Madelia, Minnesota, United States
Visitation at church for one hour prior to the service.

Interment Information

Riverside Cemetery, Madelia
East, Co. Hwy 3, Flanders Ave.
Madelia, Minnesota, United States


A luncheon will take place at the church immediately following burial.