Merton Strommen

Merton Peter Strommen

March 31st, 1919 - September 2nd, 2019
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Strommen, Merton P.
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
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Friday, September 13th, 2019 | 10:00am - 11:00am
    Friday, September 13th, 2019 10:00am - 11:00am
    Bethlehem Lutheran
    4100 Lyndale Ave. So.
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Friday, September 13th, 2019 | 11:00am
    Friday, September 13th, 2019 11:00am
    Bethlehem Lutheran
    4100 Lyndale Ave. So.
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Pr. Mary Pechauer
  • Interment

    Friday, September 13th, 2019 | 1:30pm
    Friday, September 13th, 2019 1:30pm
    Lakewood Cemetery
    3600 Hennepin Avenue
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Reception

    Bethlehem Lutheran
    4100 Lyndale Ave. So.
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    prior to burial


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Private Condolence
The team at Market Street Dermatology sent flowers to the family of Merton Peter Strommen.
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Heartfelt Sympathies Store

Posted at 01:47pm
With love and gratitude for Merton Peter Strommen! Love, Kirschling Family: Ron, Barb, Greg, Annelise, Johnny and Peter
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The team at Market Street Dermatology

Posted at 10:39am
It was a privilege to care for your father. He was a gem.
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The team at Market Street Dermatology purchased flowers for the family of Merton Strommen. Send Flowers


Rennard Svanoe

Posted at 12:58pm
Mert has been an example for me to follow in my career in youth work, both in and outside the church. As a youth, I sang in his youth choir and studied the Bible in his home in Richfield. I watched him successively define the role of youth worker as advisor, then counselor, and finally as advocate. Asked to give a name to the role of the new civilian guards in juvenile detention in Madison, Wisconsin, I suggested advocate. Later, while working as director of a new program for runaways, youth advocacy flowered into a virtual nationwide movement working with runaway youth. Mert's positive approach to youth as having assets to offer surely helped pioneer this movement. Mert's music leadership was part of my inspiration in singing and going on tours with two brothers and a seminary classmate as the Augsburg Male Quartet of 1959 and 1961. Mert came around again into my life when my voice was added to the 2nd bass section of the Augsburg Centennial Singers in 1994. Tours to Norway in 1961 and 1994, enriched my life. Mert's favorite way of typifying the Christian's witness was the sharing of bread by one beggar with another. In this spirit, 600 impoverished and disenfranchised youth here in Mexico have received the benefit of a swing out of the cycle of poverty through scholarships from Christian people in America these past years. Thankfully, Mert and I had a chance to talk earlier this year by phone. He was readty to hear his song sung by the reconstituted Augsburg Male Quartet of 60 years ago. We'll be dedicating the song to Mert's memory on 3 occasions the weekend of Sep;tember 27-29 at Augsburg's 150th anniversary celebrations at student chapel, the Silver Luncheon, and Trinity Church's Sunday service.l "At the foot of the Cross I will linger, 'til I rise from the cross to Thy throne."Goodbye, my good mentor and inspirtation. Rennard Svanoe

Camille Steen

Posted at 08:33pm
My mother, Esther (Framstad) Steen, always spoke so highly of her double cousins. She loved them dearly. Going through her old photo albums I found the picture below which was labeled "Lute, Mert, Abner" along with some cousins I assume. Mert was such an inspiration throughout his life. We were all so pround of both he and Irene. Our family sends their love to you all.

The John and Esther Steen Family (Carla, Joan, Renae, Camille & John Jr.)
Camille Steen, Winter, Wisconsin

Gary Wood

Posted at 04:33pm
Dr. Strommen was a beloved figure at my home church, Oak Grove Lutheran in Richfield. I have very fond memories of attending the weekly youth bible studies, or Discovery Groups as they were called, on Wednesday evenings in the Strommen family home. Condolences to John and the rest of the family. Gary Wood, Racine, WI

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