Obituary of Alden Leigh Monberg
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Our wonderful, complicated, beautiful and brilliant mother, Alden Leigh Monberg left us in the peaceful wee hours of December 12th, 2021. She was surrounded by her five children, holding her and each other just as she would have wanted. Her Norman Rockwell sentimentality might’ve preferred if we had asked Alexa to play ‘Wind Beneath my Wings’ or ‘I Hope You Dance’ to make it really perfect – but we stuck with her favorite composer, Rachmaninoff instead. Bette Midler or Lee Ann Womack would’ve seemed rash and perhaps a little startling under the circumstances. We like to think she’d appreciate the ascetic mindset. Born in November 1946 to Bob and Priscilla Gates (nee Alden), Mom was the oldest of three children growing up in Hammond, Indiana. Her singular ability to master anything she set her mind to was first revealed in her childhood as a prodigy on the piano. She began teaching lessons at the age of 9 and while it’s unclear if these were paid gigs, it foreshadowed her future career as an educator. While in high school Mom met and fell in love with our Dad, Tom. He was from just far enough across the tracks to be compelling and so dashingly handsome, intelligent, and witty that he was a shoe-in. Having famously achieved a perfect score on her SATs Mom chose to join Dad at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She was a proud Kappa Kappa Gamma who majored in music. With Dad Vietnam-bound and coupled with some standard coming of age conflict with her parents, Tom and Alden eloped in February 1967 with a sweet and simple wedding at their campus chapel followed by a sorority house reception. Mom was always her happiest at her boldest. Mom and Dad went on to travel the world with the US Air Force and build our family. When Dad left active duty in 1979, they chose to move to Maine. We are forever grateful to them for the idyllic and wild childhoods that growing up in Maine afforded us. Never one to settle, Mom returned to school at the age of 35 to finish her education, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and Physical Oceanography at the University of Maine in Orono as a National Science Foundation grant recipient. As she worked on her degrees, Mom taught – as a T.A., then math at Bangor High School followed by nineteen years as a professor at Maine Maritime Academy in the town of Castine, where she would eventually retire. She was well loved and healthily feared by her students who will all remember her sense of humor, engaging lectures, Problems of the Week. She too will be missed by the denizens of Route 46 and the Castine Road who ducked in terror as she barreled back and forth between Maine Maritime and Orono each day. Mom really was a remarkable woman, sister, mother, teacher, protector, and exceptionally dedicated joker, smoker and midnight…talker. She was a veritable shark at the game of bridge and when engaged in a late-night cribbage tournament you wanted no one other than Alden Monberg to advise on your hand or be your partner. You likely wouldn’t find her at a school concert, play, or any other parent-y function back in the day (though of note, she chaired the Orono School Board for a number of years and is the signature on quite a few high school diplomas out there, including one of ours: she was passionate about budgets and phonics). She wouldn’t fly to visit you when you moved away – you had to get yourself to Maine to see her. However, you could count on her to teach you any of the following in this sample list of her mastery level skills: weaving, spinning yarn, cross stitching, Lamaze, preparing homemade frozen dinners, sewing, wall papering, solving Rubik’s Cubes (seriously – all the neighbors would bring her their jumbled messes to finish off), jewelry making, wrapping gifts with phenomenal bows, hooking rugs, doll collecting, pizza making, grandbaby burping, calculus helping, mid-eighties style wall stenciling, white couch buying and/or – and most prolifically - knitting. She was an incredible knitter and made countless, intricate, and somehow slightly ill-fitting sweaters for each of us all the time. Our Christmas stockings are a sight to behold. They’re incredibly designed and you can stuff a medium-sized dog in them with room for an orange in the toe. Next year they will be lighter, but in true Alden style she had gifts and stocking stuffers ready to go for this year before any of us knew her time would be so short. Mom was the creator of truly epic Christmases and we have a lot of matching jammies and over-the-top memories to prove it. Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer around Christmas 2017. She started another round of treatment just after our Dad died last April, but it wouldn’t budge and the crescendo harkening the end of her life was rapid once it began post-Thanksgiving. It is controversial whether Mom died of cancer or a broken heart. We are sure that both contributed. We are so sad to say goodbye but grateful that she doesn’t have to be tough, tired, scared, frustrated, or in pain anymore. Mom is survived by her children and our families - Robby and Jessica (Panko) of North Pole, AK; Jamie and Lissa (James) with little Robby of Seattle, WA; Erin and John (Prendergast) with Henry, Ruth, and Oscar of Camden, ME; Brooke and Tim (Willoughby) with Thomas, Maeve, and Leeds of Falmouth, ME; and Christian and Michelle (LaFrance) with Knox and Hawken of San Francisco, CA. She leaves behind her beloved sister, Priscilla Stephens of Indianapolis, IN & her brother Bob in Louisiana along with many loved nieces and nephews across the land. We laid Mom to rest next to Dad in the Veteran’s cemetery in Augusta ME on Monday, December 20th with bright sunny skies and sparkling snow, again encircled by her close family. We will hold a celebration of her life when it’s safer to gather this summer. Please send a note to email@example.com if you would like to join us. We love you so much, little Mom. Give T.O. a big hug from all of us.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Alden Monberg, please visit Tribute Store
10:00 am - 10:30 am
Monday, December 20, 2021
Maine Veterans Cemetery
Mt. Vernon Road
Augusta, Maine, United States