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Jean Schnell, age 97, long time resident of Litchfield, Minnesota, died peacefully on March 24, 2020 at Folkestone in Wayzata, Minnesota. Jean was born March 6, 1923, in Superior, Wisconsin, the daughter of Clarence and Marguerite Erlanson. Jean was a graduate of Superior High School and Superior State Teachers College (now University of Wisconsin-Superior). Following graduation Jean taught French and directed plays at Carlton High School in Carlton, Minnesota. Jean met Frederick Schnell, also a resident of Superior, Wisconsin while in college. Upon his return from the South Pacific following World II, they married and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Fred began medical school at Marquette University. They made many good friends while living in Milwaukee. They returned to Minnesota following Fred’s graduation from Marquette for his Internship at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota. In 1953, Jean and Fred then moved to Litchfield where Fred joined the Litchfield Clinic and where they enjoyed long and well lived lives, raising their four children, making lifelong friends and loving all that Litchfield had to offer.
Jean was a busy homemaker, devoted to the serious business of raising her family. She was a longtime and faithful member of First Lutheran Church where her children began their Lutheran faith journeys. Jean was active with fundraising projects for the Mission Study trips each of her children experienced while members at First Lutheran. She was a member of Rebecca Circle. Jean loved her church family and had a strong, unwavering faith.
Jean was also involved in civic causes, being instrumental in bringing Hospice services to Litchfield, helping to pass a new high school bond issue by going door to door to promote the benefits of a new high school to the community and supporting the renovation and addition to Meeker Memorial Hospital. Jean was active in scouting with all of her children, being a Girl Scout and Cub Scout leader. She was a full participant in all of her children’s activities, never missing a performance, athletic event or Litchfield High School marching band parade. As a mother Jean demanded a standard of high achievement for her children. She continued to be actively and eagerly involved in all of Litchfield’s many community events from church suppers to Community Theater to the Meeker County Fair to the Watercade summer festival, well after her children graduated from high school. Jean was also an active member in Women’s Club and PEO.
Jean and Fred loved world travel and went on many adventures through the years with good friends and family. The first 2 weeks in March each year you would find them in Lauderdale-by-the Sea, Florida where they made friends who would stay at the same resorts on the ocean each year. After Fred’s death, she continued vacationing in Florida in March with her children, her final trip in 2018.
Jean and Fred moved their entire family out to the family cottage on Lake Minnie-Belle every summer, shortly after school was out. Those were idyllic days for her children, but probably much work as a mother of 4 children. After the kids were grown, Jean and Fred spent their summers in Litchfield, enjoying their children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren around their pool.
Jean was a woman of strong opinion, tremendous drive and great spirit. She was not afraid to try new things, for example, going parasailing on her 80th birthday. Jean read the newspaper front to back every day. She loved politics and political discussion, never hesitating to give her perspective on issues of the day. Jean had a flair for fashion; she loved her home and decorating inside and out for every holiday; she had a remarkable memory for the details of the lives of her friends, family and acquaintances; she never passed up an invitation; she met friends every Friday night at Peter’s on Lake Ripley. By her own admission Jean was a poor bridge player and not much of a golfer. She was, however, able to execute a perfect cartwheel, much to the chagrin of her daughters who were not equal to the task.
Jean lived independently in her home well into her 90s, with the help of amazing neighbors and her many Litchfield friends. Her family is very grateful for the genuine love and friendship so many people shared with Jean through the years, especially after Fred died. Jean knew the value of having friends across the age spectrum and she loved them all.
Jean spent her last summer at home in 2018 with the gentle, kind and patient care of several wonderful women from Baywood Home Care. After working hard at Meeker Manor in Litchfield (with the consistent encouragement of the many Meeker Manor staff members) to regain her strength and more independence, she and her family came to the conclusion that a new place of residence was necessary. Jean moved to Wayzata to be closer to family and became a member of the Folkestone community where she lived the last year of her life. Jean continued to have many visitors, cards, flowers, and phone calls from her family and her many friends in Litchfield and across the state and country. Jean and her family were very appreciative of the wonderful staff on Gables at Folkestone who offered love, companionship, kindness and friendship along with superior and professional care. The family would also like to thank everyone with Optage Hospice who supported Jean and her family during her last weeks of life.
Jean was preceded in death by her parents, her dear partner in life, Fred, and her brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Jane Erlanson. She is survived by her 4 children, Marguerite Strand (Michael Parrish), Barbara Hansmeier, William Schnell (Dolly), and Robert Schnell (Beth), 12 grandchildren, Katherine Strand (Brent Fosnaught), William Strand, Thomas Strand (Lindsey), Peter Hansmeier (Diane Jungbauer), Paul Hansmeier (Padraigin Browne), Mark Hansmeier (Jennifer), Taylor Schnell (Kelsey), Katherine Schnell (Marcus Dresbach ), Clayton Schnell (fiancé Andrea Bettschen), Britta McGuire (James), Sara Elenkiwich (Ross), and Laura Stubenvoll (Robert), and 14 greatgrandchildren, Jackson and Evelyn Strand, William and Vivienne Fosnaught, Kate, Estelle and Emilie Hansmeier, Henry and Greta Hansmeier, Beckham Schnell, Friedrich Dresbach, Lily and Charlie Maguire, Shepard and Hannah Elenkiwich, and Ann Stubenvoll. Three more greatgrandchildren are on the way this spring and summer. More than anything, Jean loved her big and ever growing family. They are her true legacy. Jean is also survived by her niece, Britt Erlanson, and nephew, Robert Schnell.
Funeral services to honor and celebrate Jean’s life and interment at Lake Ripley Cemetery will be held when it is safe to do so. Memorials are preferred to First Lutheran Church, 703 S Sibley Ave, Litchfield, MN 55355.
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