Disability rights activist Marjorie Hammargren died this spring at Carondolet Village in St. Paul. Born in Watertown, South Dakota, she moved with her family at a young age to Kilkenny, a small town in LeSueur County. Hammargren attended St. Canice Catholic Grade School, Montgomery High School and the University of Minnesota.
Life with physical disabilities prompted Hammargren to become a longtime advocate on accessibility issues. She served on the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities for six years, and also served on its access and human rights committees.
Hammargren lived in Kilkenny for most of her life. She owned a printing company and a flower shop, and also served as the city clerk. She wrote to St. Canice Parish in Kilkenny, Ireland, and obtained a picture of St. Canice’s statue. From the picture the St. Paul Statuary Company modeled a modern, heroic size statue of St. Canice which was placed on the front of the new church in the Minnesota town. It was dedicated in 1954.
She was on the Southwest Deanery Board for many years. She was a third Order Carmelite and also belonged to the American Legion Auxiliary. In 1976 she chaired the Kilkenny U.S. Bicentennial Celebration.
Her awards for service included the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women Award, the Catholic Charities Award for Social Justice and the WCCO Radio Good Neighbor award. In 1996, she was one of several Minnesotans who carried the torch for the Atlanta Olympic Games, as the torch passed through Minnesota. She was a friend of Access Press and past nominee for the Access Press Charlie Smith Award.
Several years ago Hammargren moved to St. Paul, to be closer to her sister, Betty Lou. Her sister survives her as do a niece, nephew, grandnephew and grandnieces. Services have been held and burial was in Calvary Cemetery in Kilkenny.