Strommen, Merton P.
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Age 100 of Mpls September 2, 2019. Born March 31, 1919 in Calumet, MI. Merton was the third child of Rev. P.A. and Nellie Strommen. Young Merton developed a passion for music, bartering babysitting for piano lessons at age six and later taking bassoon lessons from Seattle Orchestra's bassoonist. Upon graduating from college in 1941 with a music major, he was drafted for military service but rejected due to back injuries from an auto accident. He subsequently enrolled in a music graduate program at the University of Minnesota, then abruptly changed his vocational direction after experiencing a compelling sense of call to ordained ministry one night. He enrolled at Augsburg Seminary the next day. On June 23, 1944, he married the love of his life, A. Irene Huglen, his wife of 70 years.
Through parish ministry he cultivated an interest and concern for young people, leading him to serve as Youth Director of the Lutheran Free Church, Campus Pastor at Augsburg College, and to pursue graduate training at the U. Of Minnesota in Educational Psychology. In 1960 his Ph.D thesis involved a national study of the beliefs and values of Lutheran youth. He led the expansion of this research in 1960 by founding and serving as president of what is now known as Search Institute. He was a pioneer in research until his retirement from Search in 1984. Merton authored or co-authored (some with his wife, Irene) over 20 books and numerous articles, and in 1983 was awarded Fellow status in the American Psychological Association, following his selection to receive the William James Award for career achievements in the psychology of religion.
The sudden death by lightning of youngest son, David, in 1986 inspired Mert and Irene to help found the Youth and Family Institute as well as a curriculum and major in youth ministry at Augsburg College.
Mert and Irene are fondly remembered for hosting and leading a high school Bible study in their home for over 35 years. Mert served on the Richfield School Board, founded and directed the Augsburg Centennial Singers and lived with vigor through his 90s, playing piano "musicales" in his apartment for fellow residents of Walker Place, his home for 14 years. A lover of music, he played his beloved grand piano until age 100 and regularly attended Minnesota Orchestra concerts from 1938 to the present year.
'Dad' is remembered by his five sons as role model and mentor, a devoted spouse, an engaged and loving father who played touch football and driveway basketball games, loved summer camping trips and hikes up Colorado mountain peaks. He cherished extended family gatherings and took an active interest in the lives of people surrounding him.
Preceded in death by son David; wife Irene; and great granddaughter Momone. Survived by sons Peter (Normajean), Tim (Dawn), Jim (Judy) and John (Heidi); 11 grandchildren; 13 great grandchildren. Funeral service Friday, Sept 13, 11 am at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 4100 Lyndale So, Mpls. Reviewal one hour prior. Internment Lakewood Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to Luther Seminary.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN 612 861 6088