Marilynn Joan Skantz
Marilynn Joan Skantz (nee Mushik), former Ely kindergarten teacher, mother to six, grandmother to eleven, and dearly devoted wife of her lifelong soulmate and former Ely native son, Arthur Skantz, passed away peacefully at her home with family at her side on February 25, 2023. She was a friend to many and will be missed by all.
Born to Katherine (nee: Neibauer) and John Mushik on September 1, 1932 on the North Dakota plains in Mandan, hers was a musical family. She became an accomplished pianist, following in her sister Josephine’s footsteps. She went on to graduate from the College of Saint Catherine in St. Paul, MN, majoring in education.
Her next chapter of life led to “where the road ends” in Ely, Minnesota, where she took her first job as a kindergarten teacher. There she met the love of her life, Art Skantz, a proud Finn who made her laugh as he charmed her with his theatrical gestures and operatic overtures. He memorialized his youth in Ely, including their romance, in his memoir, “A Kid From Ely”, in the chapter entitled “Miss Mushik Comes To Town”. They married August 13, 1958 and moved to Minneapolis for Art’s continued studies, where they had their first three children. Family growth or perhaps Marilynn’s accidental provocation of an eviction notice led to a move to Racine, WI, home of the Kringle, and subsequently three more children. As Art’s career progressed, they moved to Highland Park, IL, and finally upon his retirement, back to the Twin Cities.
Marilynn cultivated a home where music, prominently classical and opera, were ever present. Strains of “The Streets of Laredo”, strummed by Marilynn on guitar, punctuated many a bath night. She was an avid cook and delighted in discovering new cuisines and recipes, and the ever-evolving fare was consumed with relish. Large gatherings and parties would frequently accompany. True passion, however, came with her baking. Cookies, tarts, pulla rolls, cinnamon rolls, bread sculptures, and simple, glorious breads will be wistfully remembered. She won a trip to NYC in a contest featuring her Christmas baking which commenced the day after Thanksgiving. For a time this even led to her catering business, The Bread Broad.
Marilynn was a reader, studied theology, and advocated for equality and acceptance of others. She spent time and energy on causes and service, from volunteering at Peter Hobart Elementary School with reading skill development and at the Westwood Hills Nature Center both in St. Louis Park, MN, to later visiting with nursing home residents at Folkstone. She and Art frequently traveled internationally and spent some summers studying at Oxford University just for fun. Marilynn’s countenance was realized as upbeat, kind, and welcoming in nature. She made connections with everyone she encountered with her disposition and smile. Through all the ups and downs of life, she kept faith in knowing there will be a better day. She leaves a legacy of kindness and love to one another.
“Nostrovia!” to our Marilynn, using a term uttered in her childhood home and then frequently at family gatherings. She leaves behind children Sara (Steve) Hoge, Liisa (Pat) Norman, John (Sue), Claire (Tony) Justiniano, Chris (Beth), and Eric (Arlene); grandchildren John (Andrea), Alec (Danielle Whiteside), & Jenna (Sam Smith) Hoge, Leah & Sam Norman, Lizzie (Calen Terry) & Joe Skantz, Gabriella & Spencer (Ed Snyder) Justiniano, and Alex & Max Skantz and loving nieces and nephews and their families. Marilynn was preceded in death by her husband Art, parents John & Katherine Mushik, and siblings Josephine, Don, John, Bill, and Dorothy. The family thanks the aides and nurses of Folkestone and Optage who provided kind and professional care and comfort in her last months. In lieu of flowers or memorials, the family suggests a donation to an organization supporting teachers, nature, or the arts, Marilynn’s passions. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, April 8, 2023, from 9-noon at Folkestone (Presbyterian Homes) at 100 Promenade Avenue, Wayzata, MN 55391 during which memories will be shared starting at 10:00 am.