Magda H. Malmgren, 100, Swedish-born seamstress

April 12, 2004

Magda Helena Malmgren, a Swedish-born seamstress who spent the later part of her life filling a journal with a century's worth of experiences, died of complications of a stroke Thursday at her home in Cockeysville. She was 100.

Born in Ronneby, Sweden, Magda Nilsson moved to the United States in 1927 and worked as a seamstress in New York City. There she met another Swedish immigrant, Berndt Birger Malmgren, and married him in 1932.

The couple moved to Rhode Island and had four children, one of whom died at birth. They raised their children to respect education, although neither parent had any formal schooling.

"They felt that was the way that you could achieve in the United States," said their daughter, Hope Moore of Cockeysville.

The three siblings now have six college degrees among them, including a master's in business administration and a doctorate in economics.

Mrs. Malmgren moved to Cockeysville in 1984, four years after her husband died, to stay with her daughter and help with an infant granddaughter - now one of the many beneficiaries of Mrs. Malmgren's journal.

"We plan to print it up and distribute it," Mrs. Moore said. "We want to help [the grandchildren and great-grandchildren] know her and what the real value was of her and my father coming to America."

The detailed document includes Mrs. Malmgren's memories of surviving a flu outbreak when she was 16 and a poem she memorized when she was 6. "She had wonderful memory," Mrs. Moore said.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Peaceful Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Center, 2325 York Road, Timonium.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by two sons, Harold Malmgren of Warrenton, Va., and Kurt Malmgren of Oakton, Va.; 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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