Arthur R. Skantz (Art)

Arthur R. Skantz (Art), author of the memoir “A Kid from Ely,” died on January 26, 2020, having been surrounded by family in his last weeks. A private family service was held immediately after his death and an open house celebration of his life will be held on February 29 for friends and family to share memories (details below).

Art, a proud Finn, was born in Ely, Minnesota on August 24, 1932. He overcame an impoverished childhood during the Depression, developing sisu that remained with him until his last breath. In 1956, he married Marilynn Skantz of Mandan, North Dakota, who’d come to Ely to teach kindergarten. They had six children, Eric (Arlene), Christopher (Beth), Claire (Tony), John (Sue), Liisa (Patrick), and Sara (Steve). Art (aka “Grandpa Two-Pens”) reveled in the exploits and journeys taken by his eleven doting grandchildren, Joe, Max, Alexandria, Sam, Elizabeth, Leah, Jenna, Alec, Spencer, John and Gabriella. But the love of his life was Marilynn with whom he shared a love for opera, classical music, reading, travel, attending “summer programme” classes at Oxford University, crossword puzzles, art, humor, bird watching, eating Marilynn’s fine baking and most of all- family gatherings.

Art graduated from Ely HS in 1950, attended Ely’s community college and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1954 with a journalism degree. His distinguished career ended as a Vice President for Quaker Oats in Chicago. He previously worked for Johnson Wax in Racine, Wisconsin and for Pillsbury in Minneapolis. Some happy professional memories were marketing Edge shaving cream (a gel base was revolutionary) for Johnson Wax and extensive international travel seeking new market and product opportunities for Quaker.

Art was a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, after claiming allegiance to avoid an elementary school bully’s threat. He and Marilynn returned to Ely often. He enjoyed trips to BWCA with the male family members, later regretting he’d not included his daughters. He had a critical eye for collecting gorgeous Finnish furniture and glass, and Japanese prints. His credo to be tolerant and open to those who were different than average and the many visitors to his home reflected that openness. He had remarkable organizational skills and discipline. He was sober since the mid 1970’s and quit smoking cold turkey in his early 40’s.

He is predeceased by his parents, John and Helga and beloved siblings, Clarence, Ethel, Marcy and Dorothy. He is survived by their families and devoted nieces and nephews on both sides of the family.

Art’s family wishes to recognize the wonderful staff at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Folkestone Gables and Optage Hospice for their care of Art during his last year of medical challenges. A larger celebration of Art’s life will be held Saturday, February 29 at the Folkestone auditorium (main building), 100 Promenade Ave., Wayzata MN 55391 from noon to 3PM with a time to share memories from 1-2PM. No flowers or memorials are needed but notes to Marilynn may be sent to the preceding address.