Mary Lou (Schellin) Linnen, November 9, 1932 - December 25, 2020. Mary Lou (Lou) Linnen, 88, Long Beach, IN, passed away just before sunset at home on Christmas Day. She had suffered with Covid for less than a week, cared for by her family, who will miss her beautiful smile and caring ways. But she joined many other family members and friends in eternal life, who were waiting Christmas dinner for her.
Mary Lou was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, the only child of Dorothy and Frank Schellin. She was proud of being adopted and told her grandchildren that “unlike most, she was chosen by her parents.” She attended the University of Akron while living at home, and was the president of her sorority, Delta Gamma. During college, she met Bill Linnen and they were married in 1954 after she graduated. They had five children and balanced one another perfectly (she was the organized one; he was the life of the party) as they raised a fun-filled, close-knit family. Bill’s job took the family from Akron to Oak Lawn, IL, to Livonia and then Bloomfield Hills, MI, before they settled for good in Long Beach, IN, in 1966.
They loved the beach and Lake Michigan and spent many happy (and a few terrifying) days on their boat, The Linnen Closet. They also enjoyed golfing at Long Beach Country Club.
Mary Lou was a loving and supportive mother and grandmother, who taught her children and grandchildren to reach for the stars, but not to take themselves too seriously. In recent years, if family dinners became debate stages, her frequent comment was: “Who Cares?”
In 1980, Bill died in an accident. Despite this difficult early loss, Mary Lou continued to find purpose and joy in her life and moved forward with her characteristic optimism and sense of humor.
In a college essay, one of her grandsons, Colin Linnen, wrote: “Her strength and optimism inspires me. Her favorite phrase is ‘It could always be worse!’ Her wisdom resonates with me whenever I face hardship in my life.”
After Bill’s death, Mary Lou returned to school and pursued a Master’s in Business at Keller Graduate School in Chicago. She used her coursework to develop a business plan for a bed & breakfast in Michigan City. From this plan Creekwood Inn was born. She owned and operated The Inn, in the woods outside Michigan City, for 28 years, in partnership with her longtime friend, Peggy Wall, along with a cast of other wonderful innkeepers.
She became an astute entrepreneur, serving as the only female on the board of her husband’s company, Tyler Refrigeration, after his death. Later, she helped found the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets in Michigan City with over 120 stores to attract visitors to the area. She also became the first woman to serve on and chair the Board of Directors at LaLumiere School in LaPorte, IN, which four of her five children had attended.
Mary Lou was a generous philanthropist, quietly supporting numerous local charities including LaLumiere, Notre Dame Grade School, the Unity Foundation, the Barker Foundation, (where she also served on the Board for many years), Boys and Girls Clubs of Michigan City, the Samaritan Center, the Women’s Care Center, and The Snite Museum of Art in South Bend, IN.
She was a big believer in education and was the founder of the Michigan City Education Foundation, which provides grants to individual teachers. She also was a founding board member of the Michigan City Head Start program, was a member of the Madeleva Society at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, and established a scholarship in her parents’ names at the University of Akron.
Despite her many activities and accomplishments, Mary Lou’s greatest joy was her family. She welcomed all three in-laws graciously, greeted each of her new grandchildren with love; and wrote in her journal about the joy of being part of the new families that each of her children formed. She made time for each of her grandchildren, celebrating a “special day with Nana” with each of them every year on their birthdays. They enjoyed trips to the circus, ice capades, theater and many other fun activities with her on these special occasions.
She also loved welcoming family and friends to her condo on Sanibel Island, Fla., for the past 30 years. She enjoyed playing a mean game of Scrabble or Quiddler around the pool with friends, and keeping in shape by swimming laps or walking the beach on Sanibel during the coldest winter months.
Although her memory was failing in later years, she never forgot the names of her children and grandchildren.
Mary Lou is survived by her children: Beth Linnen (Bill Hoffmann), Meg (Jack) Caplice; Joe (Anne) Linnen; ten grandchildren: Jack (Caitlin Lastras) Caplice, Jim Caplice, Brian Caplice, Lucy Caplice, Molly Caplice, Leigh-Ann (Colin) Campbell, Dan Hoffmann, Billy Hoffmann, Colin Linnen and Liam Linnen; three great-grandchildren, Micah Campbell, Isla Campbell and Lilly Caplice; and many nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Bill, and two sons, Dan and Jim Linnen. The Linnen Family is grateful to Mary Lou's caregivers, who allowed her to stay in her home and filled her days with caring love: Margaret Mansfield, Brenda Lenchke, Gloria Hardaway, Bethany McCoy, and Kim Bacztub. They were truly her angels.
Mary Lou loved a good party and for many years she hosted a legendary Christmas Party at her home around a 16-foot tall Christmas tree. We know that she is raising a glass of gin and tonic from a lofty perch to all her family and friends.
A private family funeral was celebrated on December 27, 2020 with private family entombment at Swan Lake Memorial Gardens Chapel of the Chimes Mausoleum, but a celebration of her life will be planned when Covid permits.
Memorials can be made to:
· Notre Dame School Foundation, <https://donate.ndschoolfoundation.org/campaign/fund-our-notre-dame-catholic-school-foundation/c80430>;
· LaLumiere School, https://www.lalumiere.org/giving/make-a-gift;
· The Women’s Care Center through the Unity Foundation, <https://uflc.net/funds/contribute-online/womens-care-center-of-greater-la-porte-county-endowment-fund/>
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