Rev. Marlene Amonsen
Position: Minister Emeritus
Marlene Hunter Amonsen along with her twin sister, Marilyn was born February 20, 1932, in Bradford Ontario to Victor Hunter and Luella Thorpe Hunter. At that time Victor and Luella were already parents of four teenagers – two daughters, Isabelle, and Etta, and two sons, Daniel, and Ralston (Rolly) in that order, all of whom welcomed the late born twins with open arms.
The Hunters and the Thorpes were both homesteading families in the Bradford area. They began by farming but eventually moved into other lines of work and ventured beyond the family farms. Victor apprenticed as a carpenter and moved his family into the town proper where Marlene spent her first nine years. She believes that these earliest years were defined by the Depression of the Thirties.
It was then that certain sensibilities crept into her psyche. For example, an abhorrence of waste; the concept of sharing; a love of simple pleasures like family singing around the piano; or even a walk downtown. She has a clear memory of the one block main Street with its lineup of stores – Cullingham’s Grocery, Bannerman’s Five and Dime, Gardner’s Shoes, Campbell’s Drug Store, Kilkenny’s Funeral Home.
Marlene remembers these years as happy ones. She loved having the older kids at home until life began to take them in different directions – Isabelle to work in Toronto, Etta to marriage, Dan and Rolly to military service and the parents to Barrie with the twins when Victor got work at Camp Borden.
If her earliest years were defined by the Depression, Marlene’s four years in Barrie would be defined by World War Two. There were soldiers everywhere. Downtown was always crowded. She thought about her brothers a lot and the possibility of losing them. She has felt blessed that they survived since two of her cousins were killed in action. She remembers ration books for food, buying bonds and keeping track of them in sticker books, singing the national anthem and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every morning at school.
At the end of the war, the family moved to Toronto where Marlene attended North Toronto Collegiate participating in the extra-curricular activities of choir, orchestra, and drama. After graduating from Grade 13, Marlene joined the work force spending the next decade of her life with Crown Life Insurance, a company that is now extinct. While she was there, she began to attend night classes in ballroom dancing given by a co-worker. Then one momentous evening in January 1961 along came a handsome young Danish immigrant named Ib Amonsen. They danced, they dated, and they married on June 16, 1962, becoming parents of a daughter, Astrid, in 1965 and a son, Alexander (Alec) in 1967.
Several years after the death of her first husband Astrid married John Soto and helped him raise his son, David, and his daughter Shelby (the only granddaughter in the family). Astrid and John recently moved over the state line from Arkansas to Oklahoma.
Allexander (Alec) lives in Port Severn. He is father of a stepson Alex and three subsequent sons – Christian, Mikael (Mika – pronounced Meeka) and Erik, from his former marriage. After some years as a single father, he married Jennifer and gained two more stepsons Noah and Ethan. Marlene considers all eight of these grandchildren to be blessings in her life. In addition to their busy life in Canada, Ib and Marlene have made numerous trips to Denmark to keep their families connected.
Marlene had left the insurance company shortly before Astrid was born. Around the same time, Ib established a real estate business based in their residence and Marlene began to work as his assistant. She enjoyed the office work and partnering with Ib but at the same time some inner stirrings were urging her to take a different direction. She has always been an avid reader of almost anything from Shakespeare to Agatha Christie and considers James Michener the greatest novelist of the twenty-first century. She delights in crosswords, word games and trivia quizzer, not just as entertainment but as daily exercises to keep the mind in shape. It was probably her propensity for language and literature, religion and history that drew her to further exploration along these lines. When she started at the University of Toronto the first course she took was “Shakespeare”, the second was “Greek and Roman Religion and Mythology” and the third “The Historical Jesus and the Christ of Faith”. She was hooked.
Although church had always been an important part of her life, Marlene was not sure that her inner urgings were a strong call to ministry. She was still working with Ib, and their children were still young, so she limited her studies to one course per summer and one course per winter. It was, therefore, a long, slow road that led to a BA, an MA, and a Master of Divinity at Emmanuel College. Her great joy was that Ib was her strong support throughout the journey. Along the way, she did supply preaching in many congregations before being ordained. She served ten years as minister of Parkdale United church and an additional time at Davenport Perth United Church before moving to Port Severn where she and Ib eventually settled at Coldwater United Church as their place of worship. While serving the Toronto churches, she was active in Toronto West Presbytery serving a term as its Chair and also chairing several other committees at various times.
Marlene is thrilled by the opportunity she has had to lead worship at the Coldwater Eady UC Pastoral Charge and to give leadership in many bible and book studies. The Coldwater Eady people have been wonderful to work with, to worship with, to celebrate life with. She feels privileged and blessed by their presence in her life.