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Remembering Wayne Maroney

Wayne and Wanda Maroney are pictured at their wedding in 1948, left, and their 50th wedding anniversary, right. Wayne, a former mayor of Wadena, passed away June 25.

Wayne Maroney was a man who worked and had fun with the same energy. He was a volunteer fireman, small business owner, city councilmember and mayor.  He was a carpenter, golfer and bowler. He loved Wadena, the city where he was born. More importantly, he loved the family he raised there and the wife who helped him do it.

Wanda, Wayne’s partner for more than six decades, still remembers how the couple met in Wadena during the days just after the end of World War II. At the time, a popular pursuit for teenagers was “cruising”, or randomly driving around town whilst looking for/flirting with attractive members of the opposite sex. Wanda was riding shotgun with a friend when the two girls came across five boys lounging around by a paint store. The guys (including Wayne)  promptly hopped into the car, and things got a little crowded.

“Two got into the front seat, so I ended up on his lap in the middle,” she recalled with a laugh. “That’s the way we met.”

Since Wayne’s dad was a mail carrier, his family was lucky enough to own a new car in postwar Wadena. At the end of the “cruise”, Wayne invited Wanda to take a ride in it sometime.

“It just went from there,” she said.

They were married June 5, 1948. They moved four times to four different houses in Wadena -- about once every ten years, Wanda said.

“Some people live in the same house their entire life, but we didn’t do that,” she said.  

Wayne owned and operated a coffee shop on Jefferson Street, and later, a furniture store. Daughter Vicki Munson remembers dusting furniture in that store, which occupied the space where Wadena State Bank stands now. She also recalled her father’s time on the city council in the mid 1970s, and his stint as mayor from 1978-1981.

“My dad was a numbers person,” Vicki said. “He was always very interested in the workings of the city... keeping the taxes low, things like that.”

Along with number-crunching in city government, Wayne served his community in a more adventurous capacity as a volunteer fireman for 28 years. When the fire whistle sounded, Vicki remembers, Wayne would jump to answer the call while his father (Vicki’s grandad) took over minding the store.

“He loved that brotherhood,” Vicki remembered. “The firemen and their wives... they were like family.”

After Wayne retired at 50, the bank bought the furniture store and Wayne and Wanda became snowbirds, living on Potato Lake near Park Rapids in the summer and going to Arizona and Florida during the winter. The two went on like that for another 30 years, taking up badminton, bowling and golf together, as well as visiting with 12 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Wanda had several tips for maintaining a healthy marriage.

“Patience, understanding, conversation,” she said. “Never go to bed mad.”  

After his battle with cancer began, one of Wayne’s goals was to have a 65th anniversary with his wife. That dream came true this past June -- but less than a month later, he was gone.

“He was a great guy,” Wanda said. “I loved him a whole lot.”