Dorothy Molstad, who helped nurture hopeful writers, dies aged 79

Dorothy Molstad has spent most of her career writing marketing books. But she had an eclectic mix of interests — entertainment, fishing, volunteering, arts and crafts, golf, home decorating, dogs — and devoted herself to all of them.

“She was incredibly smart and her mind was sharp, sharp, sharp,” said their daughter, Coon Rapids’ Jenny Geisler. “If she did something, it wasn’t small. If she did, she would do it to the nth degree.”

“I don’t think she’s ever sat still for very long,” said former business partner Pat Morris. “She loved to travel, she loved to party, she loved to party. She was always on the go.”

Molstad, of Brooklyn Park, died at North Memorial Hospital on April 8, three days before her 80th birthday. She had long suffered from severe and chronic lung and heart disease.

She was born in Duluth with an identical twin sister, Donna, who died in 2014. She married her high school sweetheart, Michael Cote, in 1960. When her two daughters started school, she enrolled at what was then Mankato State University and earned money a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s in education.

She wrote a poem in the 1970s describing her 70-mile round trip to school as “journeys from Mommy-hood to Dorothy-hood and back home.”

She taught first, second grade, and kindergarten in Burnsville and then became the director of volunteer and school programs at the Minnesota Zoo before it opened in 1978. From 1984 to 1996 she was Director of Corporate Communications at West Publishing in Eagan, Marketing Director at Waldman House Press until 2001, then Marketing Manager at Voyageur Press until 2008. During this time she also had her own business, Molstad Marketing/PR.

“She was always thinking of a creative way to sell a book or position it in the marketplace,” said longtime friend Sybil Smith.

In 2009, Molstad co-founded Book Architects with Morris and Linda Strommer, a consulting firm that helps authors “navigate the twists and turns of the ever-changing publishing world, from brainstorming ideas to detailed manuscript reviews and marketing plans,” Das said company in a 2009 press release.

Molstad and Cote divorced in 1978. Two years later she married Robert Molstad. The couple lived in Stillwater until they divorced in 1994, and Molstad then moved to Maplewood, Geisler said. Last fall, she moved into a retirement home in Brooklyn Park.

Molstad loved entertainment and was known for her home decoration.

“Mom was very smart, and that came from her time as a teacher,” said Geisler. “If you think of a kindergarten teacher’s bulletin board celebrating a season, Mom still did that at her house.”

Morris recalled going to Molstad’s apartment, where she “found some of those things you see in women’s magazines and thought, ‘Oh, that’s really cute; I’ll never do that.’ But she made it.”

She’s also politically astute, Smith said.

“I appreciated her for her intelligence and conversation. We often talked about world issues, social issues and politics. It’s hard to find friends who can do that.”

She volunteered for a Bayport-based fisheries program, the Minnesota Zoo, the Stillwater Lakeview Clinic, the Renaissance Fair, the Minnesota River Valley Historical Society, and many other organizations.

“Whatever she focused on, she was hooked,” said Brett Waldman, whose family ran the Waldman House Press.

In addition to Geisler, Molstad’s survivors include daughter Kathy Rogers of Hoover, Alabama, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. An open house will be held on May 20 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Minnesota Cremation Society, 1979 Old Hudson Road, St. Paul.

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