Cover photo for Marty G. Gegner's Obituary
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1946 Marty 2024

Marty G. Gegner

August 21, 1946 — March 4, 2024

Nisswa

Martha (Marty) Gegner, age 77, died March 4, 2024 at her home in Nisswa, MN with loving family members present after battling lung cancer for almost four years.

Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico to parents David and Ellie Perea. Marty spent her formative years in Mexico City with family while her father, working for the U.S. government, was assigned to a U.S. team to assist Mexican authorities battle a hoof and mouth disease breakout that also threatened the United States cattle industry. While attending various schools in Mexico she was exposed to old world Spanish cultures and languages and indigenous history of Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores. The lessons she learned would influence her later in her life’s work.

Returning to the U.S., the family briefly lived in Bernalillo and Santa Fe where she acquired more knowledge of spirit guides, open family discussions of dreams and intuitive living from the Spanish, Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo cultures. Leaving Santa Fe, the family settled in Glendale CA following the work boom after WWII. She attended schools in Glendale and West Covina graduating from Bishop Amat High School (a perennial football power) in 1964.

Trained and licensed as a cosmetologist after graduation, she worked as a stylist while studying to specialize in makeup artistry for individuals, stage/screen, and TV appearances. This would lead to a later opportunity to be on staff to Julia Child for makeup as well as assignments doing makeup for stage casts in schools, colleges, and TV productions including character makeovers. 

In 1966 a chance meeting with a young aerospace engineer, Cal Gegner, at a Huntington Beach Snack Shop led to a date which blossomed into marriage in 1967. After 14 years and now two sons, the family moved to Santa Barbara, CA for Cal’s work in 1981. While following women’s clothing trends she saw a niche in retail to provide hand decorated women’s clothing and opened a retail store in Ventura CA producing spin art and hand decorated women’s outfits which was all the rage during that decade. As her business grew she expanded selling wholesale with clothing displays in New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles clothing marts. It was also in Santa Barbara that Marty met and joined Julia Child’s staff as her makeup artist while Julia produced a video cookbook, The Way to Cook.

Again, after 10 years and both sons having flown the coop, Marty and Cal relocated to Vienna in Northern VA in 1998 for Cal’s work for a supposedly one year assignment that managed to turn into 17 years. It was in VA that Marty discovered a large holistic community existed in the large population base around Washington DC. She quickly sought out and associated herself with one of the several holistic shops in the area, Terra Christa in Vienna, which offered the type of products and services she was seeking in her own spiritual journey. Here she met and established relationships with the owner, Ruth Van Landingham, and numerous practitioners specializing in various holistic modalities. A chance meeting with a dream facilitator resulted in Marty attending Haden Institute in North Carolina for two years studying ‘Jungian Psychology in the Study of Dreams’. Now certified as a dream facilitator and analyst, she continued her studies with Marin Institute for Projective Dream Work in CA furthering her certifications in the study of dreams and their meanings and messages. Striking out on her own, she established Dream Work Guide proprietorship and hung out her shingle at the Anam Cara wellness center in Vienna while maintaining a close relationship with Terra Christa. She continued to add to her repertoire of holistic skills getting certifications in Reflexology and Reiki, eventually acquiring the fourth level, Master Teacher, and held readings using Tarot cards as Jung promoted for use in dream study and analysis. With multiple modalities she expanded her business base and in 2009 changed the business name to Dream Work Wellness LLC. She continued her business for the next 15 years until shortly before her death.

On a whim, prayer, and impulse in 2013, after visiting good friends in Nisswa and Maple Lake MN at lakefront homes, they decided on the spot that a lake home suited them also and began the MN property hunt. Boating and fishing on the beautiful MN lakes was the perfect way to spend their golden years and be the very last relocation. Moving to Nisswa in 2014, Marty continued to seek out like-minded holistic practitioners and students to continue her wellness business until her illness finally put a halt to her activities in 2024.

Besides the love for her husband, family, and friends, she loved the outdoors, nature and the arts. Through the eyes of an artist she viewed a world that begged to be exposed on a blank canvas with splashes of beautiful colors for all to see. She migrated to abstract scenes and images as her limited eyesight now presented the world to her. She loved the outdoors and had a special affection for trees, particularly a large cottonwood at her home she named Angelica.  She enjoyed boating both on the coastal oceans, MN lakes, and fishing anywhere (usually catching the biggest one). Summer boating and camping trips to Lake Powell, UT filled with fishing and water skiing were the highlights of her and the family’s summer vacations. She certified as a Green Belt in Kempo Karate and was a dedicated walker until disabled by her illness. She enjoyed designing women’s and children’s clothing and was a skilled seamstress producing a supply of T-shirts, shorts, pants and jackets for her growing sons and later for her business. She considered watching TV wasted time so, if she watched, she crocheted numerous afghans so no one would be chilly watching TV. She was an avid reader of all genres and finally forced to “read” through audio books as her sight diminished with the cancer treatments.

Wherever she lived, she sought out social groups and organizations that provided social services or personal fulfillment. In CA She joined women’s charity clubs and book clubs. She volunteered to handle an assaulted and battered women’s crisis hotline for the Newport Beach Police. She joined Sweet Adelines women’s barbershop chorus, Channelaires, in Santa Barbara, later the Verdugo Hills, Glendale CA chorus. In VA, she continued Sweet Adeline chorus with Vienna Falls and finally the Baltimore chorus, Harbor City. She loved these activities and participated in many stage performances and international competition shows with these choruses for 25 years while developing lasting friendships and loyal friends with many chorus members. Many of the costumes worn on stage were her designs. She was trained, served as a grief counselor for Haven of Northern VA, providing comfort and understanding to the needs of the dying and bereaved. For political excitement she volunteered as a staff aid at the White House west wing during the Clinton administration. In MN she joined book clubs and gained membership in P.E.O International organization local chapter which extends life-changing educational opportunities to women around the world through their financial support. She thoroughly enjoyed this group and the activities it provided. She was a member of the board, but her time was cut short after the effects of cancer forced her to discontinue her membership during her treatments.

Searching for a way to express herself artistically, over many years she studied and produced pottery, macramé, oil paintings, jewelry design and production, watercolor and alcohol paintings.  She found her niche in doing abstract acrylic-pour paintings that also encompassed many of the previous painting techniques while constantly experimenting with new techniques being developed by artists around the world.

Marty will be remembered for her kindness to all she met, knew, and associated with through work or play. She was a gentle soul, and through her holistic practices of dream work, coaching, and mentoring business, she will be remembered as a guide to finding a joyful life, a coach, teacher, and mentor to understanding the energy forces of nature. Marty will be remembered as a loving wife and soulmate, mother and mother-in-law. Her dedication to her family, friends, home life, and clients will not be forgotten. She will be remembered by the many she helped to navigate their life’s journey. 

Marty is survived by her loving husband, Cal, of 56 years, sons Thad and Jason, daughter-in-law, Susan (Struble), sisters, Carla Perea, Rebecca Geis (Peter), Elizabeth Beck (Ken), and brother David Perea, and many nieces and nephews in CA and AZ, She was preceded in death by her parents, David and Ellie Perea and both sets of grandparents in NM. 

Cal, Thad, Jason, Susan, and Carla are grateful and give special thanks to the staff from Knute Nelson Hospice that provided excellent care and support for Marty and family, as well as from loyal friends during her final weeks.

Private cremation has taken place at Brenny Family Funeral Chapel in Baxter, MN and details for a celebration of life in honor of Marty will be announced in the coming weeks. We will honor Marty’s wish to have a “heck of a party” for the celebration. 

As a final note, according to Mayo Clinic Oncologists, the clinic is treating a growing population of lung cancer patients that have no common risks factors such as #1 smoking, #2 Radon exposure, and most others. A Marty wish is for cancer researchers to continue looking for the factors affecting no-risks individuals while developing earlier detection methods. With that thought, donations to the American Cancer Society and the support they provide to cancer patients would fulfil one of her wishes.


Arrangements are entrusted to Brenny Family Funeral Chapel, Baxter.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Marty G. Gegner, please visit our flower store.

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