Mary Ellen Stahnke, 86Mary Ellen Stahnke (nee Loftus), beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, age 86, passed away suddenly on Jan. 24, at Hudson Hospital after a year of care at Red Cedar Canyon Assisted Living.
Mary Ellen Stahnke (nee Loftus), beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, age 86, passed away suddenly on Jan. 24, at Hudson Hospital after a year of care at Red Cedar Canyon Assisted Living.
Mary is survived by her loving husband of 66 years, Eugene "Gene"; daughter, Deborah (William) Fristad of Rochester, Mich.; son, Mark (Wendy) Stahnke of Hudson; grandchildren, Kirsten Fristad, Carl (Holly Thorstad) Fristad, Brielle (Kyle) Anfinson, and Brandon (Rachael) Stahnke; great-grandson, Adrian Anfinson; brothers Thomas Loftus and Anthony (Hilda) Loftus; sister-in-law Mary Jean (Jerry) Loftus; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by parents, Howard and Kathryn Loftus; brother Francis Jerome "Jerry" Loftus; sister, Patricia Loftus; and sister-in-law Joan Schneider Loftus.
Mary was born in Louisville, Ky., on Sept. 17, 1926, and grew up in and around New Albany, Ind., graduating from Mercy Academy, Louisville. After her marriage to Gene on July 4, 1946, she moved to North St. Paul, Minn., and was employed in the business office of Lund Ski Company. In 1950, they built a new house on the east side of St. Paul, and she remained home to raise their daughter, Deborah.
The family moved to Hudson in 1956 where they designed and built a home on property overlooking Lake Mallalieu. Their son, Mark, was born a year later, and she spent several years raising the children and entertaining family and friends as a gracious hostess in true southern style.
Mary spent many years volunteering at St. Patrick's Church and Grade School. She was very active in religious education programs for teens and adults after the Vatican II Council. She served as president of the Women's Parish Guild and was active at the Deanery level. She was appointed by the synod of Wisconsin Bishops to the Wisconsin Catholic Conference along with Lawrence Gherty, where she served as secretary-treasurer from 1971-1972.
Mary was employed as a bookkeeper, administrative assistant, and product consultant at Lampert Lumber Company in Lake Elmo, Minn., from November of 1968 until her retirement in 1989. Her creative mind and gifted spatial abilities lent themselves to various endeavors in remodeling, interior design, refinishing, upholstery, and sewing, of which her family and friends were the regular recipients.
Mary read broadly in the areas of politics, theology, and social justice issues, relishing a lively debate of current events. Many lifelong friends were developed through Study Club. She proved to be a true friend, selflessly caring for the needs of others.
An avid traveler, Mary explored most of the USA by car with Gene. The travel included many annual trips to California and Indiana, as well as special tours of England and Germany exploring historical sites, museums, gardens, and national parks.
As a devoted grandmother, "Nana" spent much time with her four grandchildren trying to help them in any way possible and attending their many varied activities. She was famous among the kids for sneaking in a "he's gotcha!" or tickling them to tears. She was enormously proud of their personal character and accomplishments as they grew into adulthood.
Mary will be remembered by many for her enthusiastic, extroverted, energetic personality, her efficiency, organizational skills, and business acumen, and her willingness to help anyone at a moment's notice.
Memorial donations preferred to Alzheimer's Association and American Heart Association for disease research.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, 505 13th St. S., Hudson, with a gathering of family and friends 1 hour prior to the service. A luncheon reception will immediately follow the service. Private interment will take place at a later date at the Northern WI Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner, Wis.
Funeral services are entrusted to the O'Connell Family Funeral Home of Hudson, 715-386-3725, www.oconnellfuneralhomes.com.