by Nancy Dashwood
COKATO, MN Marvin Marohn, whose family has been in the local food industry since the 1920s, passed away Tuesday, at his home. He was 87.
Marv and his wife, Bernice, were responsible for bringing Marketplace grocery stores to Annandale, Cokato, and St. Michael. The couple also owned the Cub Market in Buffalo.
Marv was born to Robert and Martha Marohn Feb. 16, 1931, in Annandale. Marv grew up working in his father’s poultry and egg business.
He graduated from Annandale High School in 1949, and attended St. Cloud Teacher’s College for one year. The next year, he transferred to the University of Minnesota, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1953.
The draft was active while Marv attended college, so he joined the Marine PLC Program.
Following college graduation, Marv was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps, eventually earning a position with Atomic, Biological and Chemical Warfare (ABC) at Camp Pendleton in California.
Marv met Bernice when he stopped in the PX where she worked to get change for a phone call. The pair wed in 1955. The marriage was blessed with three children; Julie, Bob, and Matt.
Upon return to Minnesota following his time in service, Marv took over his father’s poultry and egg business. At this time, most similar businesses were in the process of growing to be very large companies.
After a decade in the egg business, Marv was ready to try something else. He entered the insurance business for about a year, but found it didn’t really appeal to him. He really wanted to own a grocery store.
Shortly thereafter, Marv hired Emil Nylin, who had built the Marohn family home, to build him a grocery store in Annandale.
The Marohns were hands-on during every part of the creation of the new business. Bernice mixed concrete, while her husband laid the blocks up to ground level.
Marv’s father, Robert, cut the red ribbon opening Marv’s Red Owl Store March 15, 1967. Marv soon found himself working as the meat man, and providing check out and carry out service. Red Owl closed in April 1995, and the building was converted into the Annandale Community Education Center.
The Buffalo Marketplace opened in 1976, which Marv upgraded to a 75,000-square- foot Cub Foods grocery store in 1999.
Marv opened a warehouse-style Marketplace in Cokato in 1981. By 1993, the Cokato Marketplace grew to 55,000 square feet, and the former warehouse is now used for storage.
Marv reopened Annandale’s former Jack & Jill Grocery Store as Marketplace II, and leased the building from former owner Jerry Perry for nine years, until 2003. Marv opened a refreshed 45,000-square-foot Annandale Marketplace Nov. 5, 2003.
In 2007, Marv’s son, Bob, opened the St. Michael Marketplace.
Marv remained a visible presence in his stores for years, and took great pride in his many excellent employees, especially those who had been with his businesses for many years.
Marv once remarked that his store’s trademarks were terrazzo floors, and seating areas, along with the offer of free coffee.
Marv delighted in his six grandchildren.
His daughter, Julie, reported she and her brothers each welcomed baby girls first, then each of the three welcomed little boys.
Marv once indicated he didn’t know if the grandchildren would have an interest in the grocery business when they grew up.
And while Marv would be the first to admit the grocery business has changed in a multitude of ways in recent decades, he always enjoyed it.
Julie said her father was a lifetime member of Zion Lutheran Church in Annandale.
Over the years, he held many offices there. He also taught a high school Sunday school class in his younger years.
He was also involved in a business development committee in Annandale.
“We were blessed to call him Dad,” Julie concluded.
Please see the obituary page for complete information on services for Marvin Marohn.