Ione Mae Ellingson-Skalicky, 82, Avon
June 26, 1934 - April 12, 2017
Ione Mae Ellingson-Skalicky, 82, of Avon, Minnesota, passed away on April 12, 2017. She was born the 10th of 11 children on a farm outside Adams, North Dakota, to Clara and Olie Ellingson. Known to everyone as Mae, she grew up with no running water, electricity, indoor plumbing, refrigerator, or telephone. When Mae was 3 years old, her father died in an accident, and her mother Clara was left to raise their 11 children while running the family farm. They traveled by foot and by wagon when needed. They produced nearly all their food on the farm, tending a large garden, canning their vegetables, and raising crops and any animal you could think of. While it was extremely arduous work, Clara filled their home with love, opening their home to care for neighborhood children, which inspired a legacy of giving in Mae.
In her youth, Mae worked in a family café, played high school basketball, and attended big-band dances on the weekend, where Mae loved to dance. After graduating from high school, Mae moved to Park River, North Dakota where she roomed with some girlfriends and worked in a government farm program office.
In 1953, she married Norm and they had four children: Cheryl, Jan, Jeff, and Kelly. Mae was very ambitious, determined, and active. After their first two children were born, they moved from North Dakota to California, then Texas, and finally to Minnesota. They settled in Albany, Minnesota, and purchased Stearns County State Bank and First State in 1964. Over the years as they grew their business, Mae was very involved in the community while actively pursuing her many interests. Mae was creative and artistic, and she enjoyed painting, reading, writing, and cooking. Each day Mae would challenge herself with a daily cross-word puzzle. She loved nature and spending time outdoors. Mae thoroughly enjoyed sports, and together as a family they played golf, snow skied, water skied, fished and canoed. She was also an avid runner for more than 30 years, well into her 70s. Mae learned to fly to overcome her fear of flying, attaining her private pilot license to fly single engine airplanes in her 40s and 50s. In 1972, they moved to Avon. Mae loved her home on Upper Spunk Lake where she lived for more than 45 years until her passing.
Mae felt a deep commitment to children and helping others struggling with mental health and addiction. Most notably, Mae founded Clara’s House, named after her mother to honor Clara’s lifelong devotion to children. Clara’s House opened in October, 2004 and has been providing much needed mental health and substance abuse services for children and adolescents, ages 5 to 18. Mae carried on Clara’s legacy of giving through her own life, through her children and grandchildren, and through Clara’s House. Mae believed it was vitally important to bring awareness and visibility to mental health and addiction. Mae’s focus on helping women and children inspired her to create The Clara Foundation which supports Clara’s House, Journey Home, Hazelden, and other addiction and recovery programs. Mae was an accomplished and generous woman, and her recognitions include the CentraCare 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award for her philanthropy and engagement with CentraCare Health.
Mae thoroughly loved life, and she took great joy in her family. She is survived by her four children: Cheryl Ryan, Elk River, Minnesota; Jan Hanson, Duvall, Washington; Jeff Skalicky, Rosholt, South Dakota; and Kelly Skalicky, New York, New York. Also, surviving Mae are her 7 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, and her sassy little dog, Letta.
Mae also is survived by her younger sister, the baby in the family, Dorothy Boe (80) of Adams, North Dakota. Mae’s other nine siblings (7 brothers and 2 sisters) have passed away.
A remembrance gathering will be held, with details to follow shortly.
Memorial contributions are preferred to Clara’s House, Journey Home, or Hazelden.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead