Marcella (Gunnufson) Barber


Marcella Jane (Gunnufson) Barber passed away peacefully on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. The feisty Norwegian and fun-loving Swede was born on Feb. 28, 1926, to Sam and Bessie (Quisberg) Gustafson in Belgrade, Minnesota, which is where she was raised. She graduated from Belgrade High School and was active as a cheerleader, editor of the school paper and sang in the choir. After high school, she was a dental assistant in Belgrade.

She married Monroe Gunnufson in 1948. From this union, they had two daughters, Marsha Ann and Mary Sue. They made their home in Sunburg, Minnesota. Her independence was born out of necessity when Monroe passed away unexpectedly in 1968. It was then that she instilled in her daughters to “always make sure you can take care of yourself because you never know what might happen.” She felt strongly about her daughters getting a college education and made sure that happened. Thank you, Mom!

In 1970, she met William “Bill” Barber. They married on Valentine’s Day 1988. They had 40 wonderful years together until his passing in 2009. They traveled in their fifth wheel trailer for several years until they gave that up for many trips around the world. She always said how fortunate she was to have had the opportunity to see so much of the world and had been to six continents. She had no desire to go to Antarctica!

She resided in Willmar, Minnesota, from 1974 to 2013, when she had an accidental fall. She then came to Billings to stay with her daughter Mary Sue “for the winter.” I may joke about the four-year winter, but now cherish that time together. She really enjoyed Montana, and she and Bill traveled there often to visit, but, being a diehard Minnesotan, she was sure to tell everyone that she was really from Minnesota!

Marcella was a classy lady, known for her dress, hair done every Friday and nails always polished. She kept herself and her home impeccable, was a gracious hostess and always ready to make you a cocktail. She credited her longevity of 94 years to a cocktail every day. She was light as a feather on her feet on the dancefloor, but also loved a day fishing Games Lake in the summer or a day in the fish house in the winter, spearing walleyes and northerns. Now that was a good day to her!

Marcella’s other mantra was “you have to speak up for yourself because no one else is going to!” Her caregivers knew this feisty side, but also said she was very kind and sweet. The family would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the caregivers at St. John’s United Moorberg Cottage and St. John’s Hospice for their loving, kind and compassionate care over the last two years and four months, and also the staff at West Park Village for the previous year that she spent there.

Marcella was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Warren Gustafson and his wife Caryl; baby sister Jane; her husbands, Monroe and Bill. Sadly, when you live to be 94, there are too many other relatives, in-laws and close friends to list them all.

She will be greatly missed by her daughters, Mary Sue Gunnufson, Marsha (Mark) Ellingson; as well as her beloved grandchildren, Ben Ellingson, Angie (Sheldon) Libby and Patrick (Ann Marie) Ellingson. She also has five cherished great-grandchildren, Brynn, Oliver and Harrison Libby, and Faye and Kodyak Ellingson; step-great-grandchildren, Addisyn Libby, and Ryder and Zoey Anderson; as well as cousins, nieces, nephew, Barber in-laws and special friends.

It was her wishes to have no service and to have a private family burial. Cremation has taken place and burial will be at a later date when we can safely gather.

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