Louise “Lou” A. Midthun - Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

Louise “Lou” A. Midthun

May 3, 1929 - March 16, 2023

Ardis Louise “Lou” Midthun

Age 93, passed away peacefully on March 16, 2023. Louise was born on May 3, 1929 on the Big Red Island of Madagascar where her parents were missionaries for the Lutheran church. Most of her childhood was spent at The American Boarding School in Fort Dauphin Madagascar. Fort Dauphin was a town right by the Indian Ocean, she grew up playing by the ocean and climbing mountains. In 1945, when the second world war ended, she came back to the U.S. to finish high school and go to college.

In college she met her first husband, Ernie, and after they graduated she convinced him to go back to the Big Red Island as missionaries. Ernie and Louise raised their five children there for 23 years and then came back to the U.S. in 1978. Ernie was the business administrator for the mission for most of his time there, except for the last six years when he oversaw the two missionary hospitals in southern Madagascar.

Ernie died in 1987, after which Louise did a lot of traveling and also earned a Masters Degree in Theology from Luther Seminary. While working in grief support groups she met her second husband, Dale Varberg, in 1999. God blessed them with 19 wonderful years of travel, theology and conversation.

Louise will always be remembered for her strong faith, loving kindness and generous hospitality. For most of her adult life, she lived across the street from the American Boarding School (which she herself had attended). She was a refuge for numerous students whose parents were away for six months at a time. She was also the unofficial hostess for any wayward travelers who happened by the little town on the southeastern coast of Madagascar. Louise continued this generous hospitality when she lived on First Avenue in South Minneapolis, MN. She took in many missionary kids who needed a place to stay or a hot loving meal.

Louise was also an avid reader and an ardent writer. Her seminary professors often looked forward to her next paper. Louise also loved the water and the sand, whether it be the Indian Ocean or Lake Kabekona (her family cabin near Walker, MN).

Louise is survived by her children Margo, Janet, Eric (Sue), Erling and Joel (Stephanie) as well as step-children Joel (Sue), Karen (Jim) and Tom (Michelle), 20 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. Please send memorials to Courage Worldwide Tanzania or Friends of Madagascar.


  1. Joan says:

    Our deepest sympathy to to each one of you. We met Louise when she married Dale Varberg and enjoyed a long friendship with her. she was a great conversationalist and kept up to date on politics and world affairs. She also spent hours working her crossword puzzles. We are so thankful that we were able to bring Arlen and Lois Stensland to visit her a couple months ago. It was fun to listen to them share memories from Madagascar. Although we may grieve there is a huge celebration in heaven! Dave and Joan Thompson

    • Erling Midthun says:

      Thank you very much Joan and Dave. You were very special people to our mother.

      • Carolyn thompson says:

        Enjoyed visiting with her on Sat mornings when Dale was at men’s breakfast – enjoyed reading her writings! Thinking of you with sympathy!

  2. Carol Martin says:

    Louise was an inspiration with her solid faith and positive attitude. She was an encourager, always seeing the bright side. I always enjoyed our shared times together in CA and AZ with Joel and Stephanie. May God comfort you now in your sorrow.

  3. John Hairell says:

    Condolences to the family. I was one of the students at MCH in Madagascar that Louise specially made banana bread for. I will always remember her kindness.

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