Not the same without Marlene Domeier
NEW ULM — Marlene Domeier, 78, who will be remembered for creating Domeier’s German Store at 1020 S. Minnesota St. and for doing many other positive things for New Ulm, died Nov. 7 at her home.
She was so much more than a business person, many say. Marlene and her mother Agatha began making trips to Germany and came home with ideas to turn their corner grocery store into Domeier’s German Store. It was described as an enchanted place full of foods, candies, music and gifts found in German shops.
The store became known for its outdoor Christmas decorations in later years. Local artist Carl Pfaender was commissioned to paint religious scenes on canvas for the store’s windows. The store won many awards for its decorations.
German mayors and other dignitaries visited the store that was featured in many magazines and newspapers.
In 1984, “The Gift of Song,” a TV movie, was filmed at Domeier’s German Store and the Holiday Inn in New Ulm. Local citizens acted as movie extras.
New Ulm’s famed, award-winning photographer “Flip” Schulke took a photo of Domeier’s German Store and placed it in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
“She was a community treasure. It’s like a light has gone off. She can’t be replaced. She was so loved by everyone in the community,” said Domeier’s niece Ann Morris who continues to work at the store.
“This community was so important to her and so was her store,” Morris said. “She was a tireless promoter of New Ulm. She loved the community. As a young woman, she made very, very many trips to Germany with her mother. She modeled the store after shops in Germany that are packed with European candies, beer steins, cuckoo clocks, and other things.”
Domeier was a pioneer as a businesswoman. She was named the first woman president of the New Ulm Chamber of Commerce and served on its board of directors in the 1970s. She was very active in New Ulm retail business leadership.
“Marlene ran an iconic, community tourist attraction. Her store was one of the top things we’d refer tourists to. We tell people to stop at Domeier’s German Store for chocolates and gifts,” said New Ulm Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Audra Shaneman.
“Marlene was always really good at partnering. When we wanted to make an event special, she always helped us make something stand out,” Shaneman said. “She was clearly devoted to New Ulm, supporting the efforts of the Chamber and Convention and Visitors Bureau all the time. She’d jump in on co-op ads. She was easy to work with, she got it. We’re going to miss her. She made it fun to work with her.”
Shaneman said the chamber wishes Ann Morris all the best and it will give her all the support it can.
New Ulm Furniture Co. Inc. owner Ben Pieser said Domeier’s German Store was a “unique and delightful” place Marlene created for local and non-local people. He said when locals moved away, they always came back to Domeier’s.
“Marlene always cared about true, authentic German culture and heritage, not just beer and brats,” Pieser said. “She was well-traveled and very, very bright. Her friends extended well beyond New Ulm. She was a real lady and an intelligent businesswoman. She always made friends with anyone who came to her house. Guests were always very special to her. She was always very gracious and a unique lady.”
Domeier also worked with the New Ulm Sister Cities Commission and the United Way. For decades, she hosted KNUJ Radio’s “Music From Germany Hour” on Sunday afternoons, delighting listeners with stories, traditions and music from the old country. She belonged to the Brown County Historical Society, German Bohemian Society and St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
Services will be at 11 a.m., Monday, Nov. 20, at Minnesota Valley Funeral Home North Chapel in New Ulm. Burial will follow in the New Ulm City Cemetery.
Fritz Busch can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.