Molly Woehrlin

Molly Woehrlin

  • Funeral Date: 1/21/17
  • Funeral Time: 11:00 am
  • Date of Birth: 3/29/32
  • Date of Death: 12/23/16
  • Funeral Location: First United Church of Christ

Molly Woehrlin, born Mary Odell Duff—but always called Molly, was born March 29, 1932. She grew up on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, and attended Northrop School in Minneapolis. Molly took an honors program in government at Smith College, graduating and marrying William Woehrlin in 1953. After a few years following Bill’s emerging academic career from Cambridge, MA to Marburg, Germany, then Amherst, MA, they settled in Northfield, when Bill accepted a faculty position at Carleton College. Molly was delighted to be back close to her family. Molly & Bill made their home at the corner of Third and Maple St. where they raised four children and lived until this past January, when they moved to Millstream Commons along the Cannon River.

Molly came from a loving and supportive family where the children received a privileged start in life and were encouraged to make their own choices to define themselves and think out their own value system upon which to build their lives.

Troubled by the wide disparities she noted in the economic status of other people, and the harm done by racial and other kinds of prejudice, Molly had a deep empathy for those who felt excluded from society. And she was a woman of action. Molly spent her life working in service to those with disadvantages and unmet needs of all kinds. A dedicated community activist and visionary, Molly listened and connected people—her collaborative leadership created numerous organizations that provide systemic resources and support.

At different times in her life Molly engaged in statewide lobbying on behalf of those with developmental disabilities; advocated for civil rights, better mental health services, LGBTQ acceptance, women in government, and environmental conservation. Molly served as a parent advocate, and 10 years as an elected official on the Rice County Board of Commissioners. Molly provided facilitative leadership in her church community as well.

Molly also felt deeply the pain of those who suffered from personal loss, loneliness or lack of direction or belonging. Her response was always the same—a note, a phone call, a visit, a walk, a suggestion of where to find connection. Molly cultivated a vast network of loyal friends and those who considered her an important guide or mentor for the unfolding path of their lives.

Molly died December 23, 2016 at Reflections, an end-of-life surround care facility she had chosen for the final stage of her palliative care embrace of dying. Molly is survived by Bill, her husband of 63 years; daughters Helen of Minneapolis, Sue & partner Elizabeth Burke of Seattle; sons Peter of Minnetonka, Alex & fiancé Linda Larson of Hopkins; sister-in-law, Carol Duff, of Red Wing; and many devoted nieces, nephews and cousins.

A Service of Remembrance will be held Saturday, January 21st at the Northfield UCC Church (gather at 10 to greet the family; service at 11).

Memorial donations to TORCH, Community Action Center, WINGS or the UCC Church—all Northfield non-profits she held dear.

One comment

  1. Our thoughts are with you Bill and family…We love you and Molly. It’s good to have so many of your friends to love you and hold you in their thoughts and prayers. Bonnie and Larry.