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Marilyn Akerson, 85

Marilyn Jacobson Akerson died peacefully on June 25 after a weekend of family visits and vigils.

She was born in Minneapolis, Minn., on Dec. 27, 1927, the daughter of Marion and Clarence "Kelly" Jacobson. She graduated from North High School in Minneapolis in 1945 and Gustavus Adolphus College in 1949. At Gustavus, she met the love of her life and future husband of 57 years, Robert "Bruce" Akerson. Marilyn and Bruce started a family in Minneapolis and moved to Red Wing, Minn., in the late 1950s. In Red Wing, Bruce opened the Farm Seeds Store in the old Opera building while Marilyn raised the four children in their home on Maple Street. Randy, Nancy, Kim, and David all attended Sunnyside Elementary, and Randy and Nancy went to Red Wing High. Bruce decided to go to law school at age 46; the couple packed up everything in 1969 and moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., with a big dream and a small bank account.

In St. Pete, Marilyn became the breadwinner, taking a job as a high school teacher to support the family while Bruce attended law school full time. The move was fortuitous because in teaching Marilyn found her lifelong passion - literature. Marilyn taught English literature and composition at Boca Ciega High School for 20 years. In a fitting tribute, on her last day of class in 1989, her students stood on their desks and thrilled her by reciting Walt Whitman's "O Captain! My Captain!"

Marilyn was preceded in death by her husband, Bruce; her parents; her brother, Robert Jacobson; and her beloved grandson Patrick Brett.

Those left to cherish her memory are her sister, Mary Lee Anderson; daughters Nancy Gilson and Kim Brett; sons Randy and David Akerson; sons-in-law Michael Gilson and Terry Brett; daughters-in-law Janet Akerson and Katie Reinisch; seven grandchildren; one brand-new great-grandchild; dozens of friends and hundreds of high school students who thank Mrs. Akerson for jumpstarting their love of literature.

"O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;

The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won..."

A graveside service will be 11 a.m. Monday, July 1, at Oakwood Cemetery, Red Wing.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Patrick Brett Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 11053, St. Petersburg, FL 33733, which funds scholarships for aspiring leaders. Online memorial and guestbook at