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Marian Sylvia Thomson

Marian Sylvia Thomson, a ground-breaking statistician who later gained national fame as a horticulturalist, died on Nov. 22 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She was 94.

Ms. Thomson, a mathematics prodigy born in Winona, Minnesota, in 1950 became the first woman majoring in statistics to graduate from the University of Minnesota. Her knowledge of economics, statistics and mathematical modelling led her first to the Federal Reserve Bank, where she supervised financial analysis, then to Northwest Airlines, where she was an economic analyst. In 1959, she joined Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she eventually became Financial Manager. She retired from Collins (now part of Raytheon) in 1987.

Following retirement, Ms. Thomson was able to indulge her passion for roses, which she had developed as a by-product of her family’s enthusiastic creation of massive “Victory Garden” following the entry of the United States into World War II.  Ms. Thomson’s expertise in rose cultivation eventually led to a regular column in a national rose magazine.

Ms. Thomson was born to Robert Milton and Palma Sylvia (Johnson) Thomson on Feb. 7, 1929 at Winona General Hospital in Winona, Minnesota. She graduated from Winona High School in 1946.

She was the past president of the Linn County Iowa Rose Society and the past vice-president of the Iowa Rose Society. Marian was a member of the American Rose Society, having held several positions through the years, including the Past Central District Director, Past National Chairman of Consulting Rosarians, Past District Chairman of Judges, Past District Chairman of Consulting Rosarian, Past Central District Roses-in-Review Coordinator, Past Central District Prizes and Awards Chairman, Accredited Rose Horticulture Judge (Emeritus), Life Coordinating Rosarian (Emeritus) Rose Show Exhibitor, and author of the monthly beginner’s column (“Marian the Rosarian”) in the American Rose Magazine for several years.

Ms. Thomson’s awards included being named Woman of Achievement in the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Metropolitan Area in October 1973, Recipient of American Rose Society Outstanding Consulting Rosarian Award in 1981, Recipient of American Rose Society Silver Honor Medal in 1984, and Recipient of American Rose Society Outstanding Judge in 1992.

In addition, she was also a Board member of Rockwell Collins Retiree Volunteers, a life member of Minnesota Alumni Association, a Member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants in the State of Iowa and is a member of Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Survivors include one niece, Ms. Mary Palma (“Molly”) Thomson, of Charles City, Iowa, and three nephews, Officer (ret.) David Paul Thomson of Rochester, Minnesota, Peter Walsh Thomson, of Aubrey, Texas, and Rep. Charles McQuillen (“Charley”) Thomson, of Charles City, Iowa. She is also survived by a great-niece, Elizabeth Dale Thomson (Joshua) Fioretto, of Creston, Iowa, and two great-nephews, Robert Francis (“Fran”) Thomson, of Minneapolis, and Peter McQuillen (“Mac”) Thomson, of Columbus, Ohio.  She was preceded in death by her parents, Robert Milton and Palma Sylvia (nee Johnson) Thomson, her brothers, Robert (“Bob”) Lee Thomson and John Edward Thomson (Elaine), and her nephew Robert Steven (“Steve”) Thomson.

A memorial service for Ms. Thomson will be held at Christ Episcopal Church (111 North 9th Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin) on Monday, Dec. 11, 2023 at 11 a.m. A time for visitation will be held at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of service. An interment of Ms. Thomson’s cremated remains will take place at Woodlawn Cemetery in Winona, Minnesota. In lieu of flowers, memorial may be sent to The Mayflower Society, Attn: Development Office, The Mayflower Society, 18 Winslow Street, Plymouth, MA 02360.

The Dickinson Family Funeral Homes & Crematory of La Crosse, Wisconsin is assisting the family with arrangements.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

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