Weather Forecast


Louis Vital Marchand, Jr.

Louis Vital Marchand, Jr.

Louis Vital Marchand, Jr., 90, Bemidji, died Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 in Neilson Place. A visitation in celebration of his life will be held Saturday, Sept. 23 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Cease Family Funeral Home in Bemidji.

Louis was born in St. Cloud, Minnesota, in 1926, the eldest son of Louis and Adelaide (Hohmann) Marchand. In 1941 he and his family moved to Bemidji, where his father worked as game warden. The family camped for the first summer out at the Power Dam, until they found a house in town. Louis graduated from Bemidji High School in 1944 and from Bemidji State College in 1948. In 1950 he completed a Master of Arts (Theater) from the University of Denver. Louis joined the Air Force in 1951. He spent a year at Syracuse University's Russian language program, then was stationed in Germany as a Russian interpreter for the remainder of his military service. On his discharge in 1955, he returned to Bemidji and joined the faculty at Bemidji State College, where he taught until he retired in 1992. He married Margaret Owchar; they later divorced. In 1969 he married Mary Lou Stark; they were married nearly 48 years.

He was a passionate teacher and a creative director, and helped his students and actors strive for the best, rather than settling for what was easy. His speech classes were lively and his theatre productions were innovative and thought-provoking. All his productions started at 8:29 p.m., sharp.

He studied, read, and wrote history. While still teaching, he wrote and premiered a play about the Depression, and after he retired wrote one book about Beltrami County townships and another about the rural county schools.

His interests were many and varied. He never stopped reading and learning new things, whether figuring out how to do construction (on the job) or taking a class in map making or stone cutting.

Louis strongly believed in giving back to his community. He was one of the founding members of the Bemidji Community Arts Council. He served as treasurer for the local DFL. He was a member of Bemidji's Historic Preservation Commission, and President and a board member of the Beltrami County Historical Society for many years. He also directed and acted at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.

All his life he was insatiably curious and loved to talk to people about whatever they were doing. He and Mary Lou enjoyed traveling and exploring new places, especially England and Scotland. He always wanted to visit Iceland and it was still on his travel list at the end.

He was never without a book or a smile.

Louie will be remembered for his irrepressible sense of humor, his love of words and maps, for the letters he wrote to family and friends far and wide, for his immense joy in life. He loved a game of cards, a glass of wine, bread pudding, crossword and jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and lighthouses. He loved musical theatre, silly songs, and community band concerts in the back yard. He would eat anything with whipped cream on it. He loved his family most of all.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou; daughters Catherine (Lewis Crenshaw) Marchand of Bemidji and Georgianna (Robert) Fowley of Plymouth, Minnesota; son Louis of Eden Prairie, Minnesota; brothers Peter (Carol) and David (Mara) and sisters-in-law Martha (McGuire) Marchand, Barbara Stark Swanson, and JoAnn Stark; grandsons William and Robert Fowley; and many nieces and nephews who brought him great joy, as well as friends old and new. He was preceded in death by his parents, Louis and Adelaide, his sister Georgiana (Vance) Jackovich, and his brother William (Martha).

Memorials can be made to the Beltrami County Historical Society. Condolences may be left at