It started innocently enough. Just a slight tremor in the pinky finger of his right hand. Nothing serious. Just annoying. “I better get this damn thing looked at,” he told his family, relaxing in his sunroom during his first year of retirement. The tremor wasn’t innocent. Instead, it signaled the beginning of Marv Bossart’s 12-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Marv Bossart anchored the evening news at WDAY Television in Fargo for 42 years and became the most familiar voice in the history of the Red River Valley broadcast region. He also taught a generation of news reporters as a writing and introductory journalism instructor at Minnesota State University Moorhead for 37 Years.
In January of 2000 Marv had open heart surgery to repair 6 arteries in his heart, this after managing Angina Pectoris since age 34. Not long after, he retired as WDAY news anchor and this is when he started noticing his pinky tremor. Marv was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in July of 2001, but continued to teach students at MSUM and record commercials for Bell State Bank & Trust in Fargo.
Marv stayed active for many years after his diagnosis, walking daily as he had always done, scouring recipe books for new dishes he would cook on the weekends and spending time with his wife and family at their family lake home in the summer. He made his illness public to endorse the importance of exercise, physical and speech therapy and to raise awareness of the disease, through a news story that his co-anchor, Kirsten Kealy did on WDAY. In 2008, Marv retired from MSUM as it became difficult to teach, write and stay focused.
When Marv began his journey into Parkinson’s disease, his daughter remembered, he usually took a stoic stance, saying “It is what it is.” Later, as the disease progressed, he expressed a different attitude: “I hate this damn disease.”
Things took a turn for the worst about 9 years after his diagnosis when the family started noticing some cognitive changes in Marv. The family tried medications to manage some of the symptoms he was having but it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage him at home so his family moved him to Edgewood Vista. This was a very difficult transition for Marv and his wife Betty as they had a very strong marriage for over 50 years, but Betty came to visit every single day and helped care for Marv. He loved Edgewood and the caregivers there who took care of him along with Marv’s wife and four daughters. He oftentimes made the residents laugh by telling his many stories and his comical wit usually had the staff laughing too.
On April 23rd, 2013, his daughter’s 54th birthday, Marv passed away from complications of the disease. To honor his legacy and memory, his family started the Marv Bossart Foundation for Parkinson’s Support to help others living in our area who have Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers.