Alum '68 victim of bridge collapse

By Matt Day

In a disaster that traumatized the state of Minnesota and captured the attention of the nation, the Macalester community lost one of its own.The Macalester Pipe Band played at the Aug. 8 funeral of Sherry Lou (Shaw) Engebretsen ’68, a Macalester alumna who was among those killed by the I-35W bridge collapse. Playing “Amazing Grace” as her casket entered Incarnation Lutheran Church, the band members were part of a crowd of more than 750 friends, family, and community members who came to pay their respects.

Engebretsen was driving home across the I-35W Bridge when it collapsed in the evening of Aug. 1.

“Whatever she did, she did with tremendous passion,” Tim Tracy, a friend and neighbor of Engebretsen told Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), “With Sherry, everything was to its fullest.”

“The entire Macalester community extends its condolences to the family,” the Macalester Alumni Office said in a bulletin. “The community’s thoughts and prayers are with them and everyone affected by this tragedy in our community.”

The bridge, which spanned the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, collapsed during rush hour, killing 13 and injuring at least 79. The cause of the collapse is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Engebretsen was among the first four bridge collapse victims identified by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner on Aug. 2.

Engebretsen is survived by her husband of 32 years Ronald, as well as daughters Anne, 20, and Jessica, 18.

Engebretsen was on her way home to Shoreview, MN, for a dinner to celebrate Anne’s departure to a dance camp, Jessica told MPR.

“She just said that she was coming home and we were going to have a family dinner, because my sister was leaving, and then it was just, good bye and I love you,” Jessica said. Jessica spoke with her mom about twenty minutes before the bridge collapsed, she said.

“We tried calling her,” Jessica said. “We called and called and called and called. She didn’t pick up.”

Sherry, who was a marketing director for Thrivent Financial in Minneapolis, was active in student government during her time at Macalester.

A Macalester representative was present at Engebretsen’s funeral. She was buried at Incarnation Cemetery in Shoreview.

“We all are holding onto our faith,” Ronald Engebretsen told the Star Tribune. “We are hanging onto our family.