Margaret Ann Marcus passed away on September 30, 2023, in Phoenix, AZ, after a brief illness. Born Margaret Ann Carlson on July 4, 1938, to Frank and Charlotte Carlson in Rockford, Illinois, Margaret graduated from Rockford East High School in 1956. She married high school sweetheart John Brodin in 1957. They raised three children, Janice Brodin Johnson, Jeff Brodin, and John Per Brodin, who enjoyed an interesting and varied experience as they grew up in Rockford, due largely to Margaret’s lively spirit and her abundant vision of family life, which included numerous relatives in Rockford and in Minnesota.
Upon her christening, Margaret was an original cradle roll baby at Broadway Covenant Church; later, she and John were the first couple married in the new church sanctuary, and the first to sign the kneeling bench, a church tradition. She later taught Sunday School for many years at Broadway, where she also helped families in need, procuring food and clothing, ferrying them to church, and “adopting” them into her own family. Margaret was also active as a board member of the non-profit Protestant Community Services. Margaret had a career as a banker in Rockford, working many years at Home Federal Savings & Loan. Family and friends recall Margaret as engaging, welcoming, inclusive, and helpful to all, especially family. She assisted young siblings. At 16, she took a bus to Iowa to earn money by detasselling corn. She was always willing to take others to church events at Broadway.
John passed away in 1984. Margaret moved to Arizona later that year, after a particularly long dark winter that made her yearn for change, particularly when it promised sunshine and a fresh start. Her children Janice and Jeff also moved to Arizona at that time. Janice and Margaret bought a cheese and wine shop in Old Town Scottsdale. They named it Charlotte’s Cheese and Wine Emporium after Margaret’s mother. It was at Charlotte’s that Margaret first met Lee Marcus, a customer who owned a music box shop around the corner. Lee stopped in regularly to buy lunch, and a romance soon blossomed. In 1985, Margaret and Lee were married at the Arizona Biltmore. Janice and Margaret sold the cheese shop and Margaret began what would become a long second career and passion, operating The Music Box Shop with Lee. They were on the forefront of transitioning the shop to a thriving online business. Lee and Margaret lived on Berridge Lane in Phoenix, where they regularly hosted family and friends, and developed life-long friendships with their neighbors.
Margaret cared deeply for her family and wanted the best for them. She saved meticulously, putting aside money for Christmas gifts, remodeling her children’s bedrooms, taking them to summer swim team practice, funding vacations and special trips to see grandparents in Florida, and later, brightening lives with custom music boxes. Always a proud alumna of Rockford East High School (known as the mighty “E-Rabs”), Margaret kept in touch with many high school friends throughout her life. After moving to Scottsdale in 1984, she organized and sometimes hosted gatherings of E-Rab alumni in Arizona. Margaret treasured her ancestral roots. She took her parents on her first visit to Sweden, and later travelled there as often as possible. She also encouraged her children’s strong Swedish bonds, which live on. Though continually engaged in a busy life, Margaret always found time to talk, welcoming and extending herself to people of all colors, creeds, and life circumstances. She moved to the Scottsdale House community in 2015, where she developed special friendships with many of her neighbors. She regularly hosted small dinner parties with her neighbors so they could get to know each other better. Margaret maintained her interest in others, her strong resolve, and her Christian faith to the end.
Margaret is survived by sons Jeff, Per (wife Kathy and their children Nicholas and Erica Brodin); daughter Janice Johnson (husband Burt and their children Anneli and Per Johnson, Per’s wife Sally, and their children Eleanor and Caroline Johnson); and stepsons Jed (husband Alejandro Opina) and Daniel Marcus (wife Debbie and their daughter Mindy). Surviving also are Margaret’s sisters Lilian Johnson, Bonnie Christensson, Connie Kurth; brother Charles Carlson and his wife Noel; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews in the U.S. and cousins in Sweden. Though her father Frank emigrated from Sweden in 1925, Margaret maintained life-long connections with her loving Swedish family, and followed their lives with interest, even in recent months. In addition to her first husband John, Margaret was preceded in death by her brother Herbert Carlson and his wife Dorothy; sister Loretta Lundberg and her husband Frank; brothers-in-law Jerry Johnson and Dennis Kurth; and her second husband, Lee Marcus and his sons, Scott and Joseph Marcus.
A celebration of life will be held on November 18 at Scottsdale House. Further details to be arranged. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Margaret’s memory may be made to Hospice of the Valley and Local First Arizona.