Mary Ellen Fuller, 89, of Milaca died peacefully June 18 at St. Cloud Hospital with family by her side. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, June 22, at Milaca United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Joyce Slostad officiating. Visitation with the family will begin at 10 a.m. Interment at Forest Hill Cemetery and lunch at the church will follow the service. Memorials are preferred to Milaca United Methodist Church, Milaca Area Historical Society, the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank, or the Milaca Area Food Shelf.
Mary was born April 29, 1929, in Hermantown, Minn., to Oscar and Ellen Anderson. A 1947 graduate of Hermantown High School, she worked her way through college as a soda jerk at Bridgeman’s in Duluth. After graduating from Duluth State Teachers College in 1951, she taught home economics at Franklin Junior High in Brainerd.
She met her husband, Tom Fuller, on a blind date. They were married in Duluth in 1953 and moved to Milaca, where Tom was on the high school faculty. Mary lived in Milaca until moving to Ridgeview Place in Sauk Rapids in January 2018.
In Milaca, Mary worked first as a substitute teacher and then as a middle school home economics teacher. She loved directing the energy and enthusiasm of middle schoolers into learning skills and concepts that set them up to be successful in life. However, she could be tough, too – especially on students she caught chewing tobacco in class. She also did graduate work at St. Cloud State and co-wrote a middle school home economics curriculum that was published for use by other school districts. She retired in 1989.
Mary served her Milaca United Methodist church community tirelessly. Over the years, she was Sunday School Superintendent and member of the finance and worship committees. With her friend Toby Henschel, she created Sharing and Caring, a committee that helped raise money for church initiatives. The holiday Cookie Walk they created and executed for many years drew both locals and out-of-towners to church for an array of baked goods and craft items priced to sell.
She enjoyed summers at the family cabin, doing research and writing reports to share with her beloved Milaca Current Events Club, tending her ambitious gardens, reading everything from mysteries to ancient history, and feeding both birds and humans.
But most of all, she fiercely loved her family, who are the grateful recipients of her many talents – from quilts to handmade winter coats to homemade applesauce. Nothing was more important to her than gathering the extended family at Thanksgiving and putting on a full-scale Scandinavian Christmas that all looked forward to year-round.
She is survived by daughter Kristine (Daniel) James of Woodstock, Ill.; son Scott (Ellen) Fuller of Sauk Rapids; granddaughters Amanda (Carey Groethe) and Vanessa of St. Cloud; grandson Anthony of Sauk Rapids; “great-grands” Isaiah, Madelyn and Nolan Groethe; daughter-in-law Kristi of North Oaks, Minn; and twin sister Nancy of Le Sueur, Minn.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Tom, in 2008; her son Marc, in 2011; her parents; her brother, George; and sister Margaret Nelsen.