Malcolm Scott “Mac” Torgerson, Ph.D., of Macomb died at 9:52 a.m. Friday, April 29, 2022, at McDonough District Hospital in Macomb.
He was born January 3, 1922, to Clarence and L’Maree Scott Torgerson in Albuquerque, NM, where his father, a newspaper reporter, was recovering at a veteran’s hospital from lingering effects of influenza contracted in the 1918 pandemic. They moved to Monrovia, CA, but both parents became too ill to care for little Malcolm and sent him at age 2 to live with his grandparents in Aurora, NE. His father died in 1925 and his mother returned to Aurora, her hometown. She later married her childhood sweetheart, Clarence Kemper, a recent widower with a son, George. They farmed land west of Aurora throughout the Dust Bowl years and the Great Depression.
Mac attended a one-room country school through 8th grade, from 5th grade riding bareback on his pony, Trixie, who always tried to knock him off. When not doing farm chores, he enjoyed sports and games, especially baseball. He and his cousin, Marvin Scott, once rode their (one speed) bicycles to Omaha, a 125-mile feat that was reported annually in the local newspaper for many years.
Mac’s career plan was to become a major league baseball player. His mother, however, informed him that he would be attending the University of Nebraska. He agreed, planning to start his baseball career there. After checking out a uniform as a walk-on, his mother informed him that he would have to work his way through college. He returned the uniform and found work as a second cook at the Lincoln Lunch and later as a waiter at the Cornhusker Hotel. Both jobs provided ample meals and life lessons.
His college education was interrupted by WWII. He served in the Army Signal Corps in Guam and Hawaii, transcribing Morse Code. He took up photography, developing his own photos. He kept up with his Army buddies for life.
After returning to University of Nebraska, he met Mary Louise Blumel, a fellow journalism major. They married in Lincoln, NE, on June 26, 1948. While she worked as a reporter, his dream was to be a novelist. He spent one summer writing short stories, but returned to school, eventually pursuing a Ph.D. in Economics and a career in teaching.
He taught for several years in the Midwest until his severe “hay fever” prompted a move to Flagstaff, AZ, where he gained tenure at Northern Arizona University. In 1968, they moved to Macomb, IL, to be closer to family. He taught finance at Western Illinois University for 20 years, serving for a time as Department Chair. He was an active member of the Macomb Rotary Club since 1969, serving as president from 1980 to 1981 and as treasurer for many years, as well as a member of the Macomb Elks Lodge, VFW and American Legion.
Mac loved to drive and to travel. As a young couple, he and Mary Lou would spend seven weeks each summer camping across America eating food from unlabeled dented cans purchased at the factory where her mother worked. Although he visited almost every state in the U.S., as well as Canada and Mexico, he rode in an airplane only once, for his WWII Honor Flight. An avid golfer, his foursome opened the course at the Macomb Country Club every decent morning for at least 30 years.
He was a fierce supporter of family and friends and rejoiced in their accomplishments. He had a unique perspective and strong opinions about the right way to do almost everything. Annoyingly often, he was correct. Despite legendary frugality, he was generous when it counted and would do anything for those he loved. His idiosyncratic sense of humor puzzled many and delighted others.
He will be sorely missed, and his antics fondly recounted by his children, Lori (John) Chesser, Des Moines; and Lisa (Michael) Kump, Macomb, his loyal caregiver for many years; and his grandchildren, Lillian (Joseph) Brauner, San Francisco; Austin (Casey) Kump, Kingsport, TN; Merril Chesser, Chicago; and Savana Kump, Macomb.
His wife preceded him in death on August 30, 2003.
Visitation will be held at 10:00 AM, and a Memorial service at 11:00 AM, Monday, May 9, 2022, at Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral Home in Macomb with Deacon Larry Adams officiating. Cremation rites have been accorded. Burial of ashes will be in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Macomb where full military rites will be conducted by the Macomb American Legion and Macomb VFW, and a reception held at the Macomb Country Club immediately following. Memorials would be gratefully received by McDonough District Hospital Foundation or the Western Illinois University Malcolm and Mary Lou Torgerson Scholarship Fund.
You may sign the guest book and leave condolences online at clugston-tibbitts.com.
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