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Marta Jean Achterhof

A profile photo of the deceased

May 16, 1971 - Feb. 25, 2024

Marta Jean Achterhof, 52, of Rochester, Minnesota, took her final bow on Feb. 25, 2024. The last curtain fell on her inspirational, two-act life while she was at Seasons Hospice in Rochester, where she was surrounded by love and compassion.

Act I of Marta’s life opened on May 16, 1971, in Luverne, Minnesota, when she became the third of four daughters born to Roger and Carole Achterhof. An outgoing person from her earliest days, Marta thrived on creating new friendships with students from her own school and surrounding towns. With her inquisitiveness and bright smile, she was an unofficial greeter for foreign exchange students at Luverne High School. She was a social leader by nature and relished marching to a different drummer. For example, she opted for a mohawk haircut just before her sophomore year in high school, which brought her great joy when it became a somewhat controversial topic of conversation in her small town.

By the time her sophomore year and Act I drew to a close, Marta served as a student manager on the track team and was a member of the speech and debate teams, the German club and the Choraliers, and she also played trumpet in the high school band. In addition, Marta was active with Green Earth Players, a community theatre group.

Act II of Marta's life opened on July 9, 1987, while she was spending the summer at her family's lake home near Spirit Lake. Driving home that night after work at an area restaurant, Marta was involved in a one-car accident—her vehicle broadsiding a power pole. She sustained a traumatic brain injury and was airlifted to a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, hospital for surgery, which ultimately left her comatose.

A few months into what became a two-year coma, Marta was transferred to Luverne Community Hospital. Her family doctor and a team of nurses and therapists were unrelenting in their efforts "to bring her back." During the second year of her coma, arrangements were made to transport Marta on school days from the hospital to the high school, where her friends' voices and the devoted special education staff provided the stimulation that ultimately helped with her recovery.

By June 1989, Marta had emerged from her coma. She returned to her parents' home and spent an additional year in the high school special education program. During the next 30 years, Marta thrived and progressed far beyond all expectations. Her fantastic support system over the years included friends, family, doctors, nurses, physical therapists and many personal care attendants.

Although she was unable to speak or walk, Marta made her feelings, opinions, and love known. She developed her own way of communicating that made clear to those who knew and loved her that she was still “there.” Marta and her parents flew for several winters to Florida, where she used floatation devices in heated pools and enjoyed watching the Minnesota Twins spring training games. One special adventure brought Marta, her sister Kristin, and their parents to San Jose, California, where they observed beach life and visited beautiful wineries and quaint seaside towns.

For the past three-and-a-half years, Marta made her home with Ionel (John) and Lucia Dumitrascu at their foster care home for disabled adults in Rochester. John and Lucia constantly showered Marta with loving care.

The common themes woven throughout Marta’s two-act life included resilience, positivity, a strong sense of humor and love.  Marta was—throughout her life—a strong person; even as a child, she would befriend and stand-up for those who needed support. Until the end of her life, she refused to give up, even during the most difficult times.

Marta Achterhof was preceded in death by her grandparents; her father, Roger Achterhof (in 2021); and her sister Kate Anne (in 1980). She is survived by her mother, Carole Achterhof, of Rochester, Minnesota; her sister Kristin (Glenn Ronaldson) Achterhof, and their two teenage sons, Rutger and Landon Ronaldson, all of Hinsdale, Illinois, and their grown children, Alex (Sophary), Heather and Nick Ronaldson, all of the Chicago, Illinois, area; and sister Linda (Jim) Davis and their son, Sidney, all of the Boston, Massachusetts, area.

Marta's remains will be interred next to her sister Kate's grave in Maplewood Cemetery in Luverne, Minnesota. Marta’s gravestone reads, "Sisters Together Forever." A private Celebration of Life gathering will be held at a later date.

Memorial contributions may be directed to Seasons Hospice, 1696 Greenview Dr. SW, Rochester, MN 55902 (www.seasonshospice.org), and Special Olympics Illinois, 605 E. Willow St., Normal, IL 61761 (www.soill.org).

Mahn Family Funeral and Cremation Services, Rochester, is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences are welcome and may be shared at mahnfamilyfuneralhome.com.

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