Obituary: Marian Schlise

March 31, 1938 – Dec. 6, 2023

Lifelong Door County resident Marian Johanna (Stroh) Schlise, died peacefully in her sleep at age 85 on December 6, 2023, in the excellent care of Milwaukee Catholic Home, Milwaukee, WI.  Marian was born on March 31, 1938, to Earle and Gertrude (Bourgeois) Stroh of Sturgeon Bay, the youngest of four Stroh children. On her first birthday, her father died of pneumonia. Her mother married Dr John Hirschboeck and the family relocated to Forestville, WI, to a house from which the doctor conducted his medical practice.    

Marian graduated from Algoma High School in 1956 and attended the Ferris Institute (now Ferris State University) College of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, earning a pharmacy license she maintained for most of her life.  She graduated in 1960, returned to Forestville and worked as a pharmacist in Green Bay. A childhood relationship took a romantic turn at local dance halls, and on May 2, 1964, she married Roderick (Rod) Joseph Schlise at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in Maplewood. They relocated to the west side of Sturgeon Bay, where Rod ran the family plumbing business and Marian devoted herself as a full-time mom: cooking, gardening and raising her children, which eventually numbered four boys.They remember with special gratitude the healthy, home-cooked meals they enjoyed growing up, and mom’s endurance as she shlepped 10 gallons of milk home from the grocery store each week.

Beyond “mom” duties, singing was among Marian’s favorite extra-curricular activities. Her interest in performing began with her participation in several musicals during high school, and continued throughout her life. Her sharp ear and lovely alto voice contributed to the success of the Door County Choraliers which she joined shortly after its formation. With this ensemble, she took part in numerous concerts and musicals and found artistic soul mates and lifelong friends in Rita Schlise, Jane Berg and Mary Dettman. The four formed “The Headliners” quartet and became known for their high-quality a capella performances all over Door County and beyond. Whether planned or impromptu, their singing enriched family weddings, baptisms, holiday parties and countless other gatherings through the years. Even their vocal warmups could attract a crowd, as they were once surprised to find a small throng assembled outside the ladies’ room of a Milwaukee restaurant as they warmed up prior to singing at a wedding rehearsal dinner. Anyone who heard them perform their 4-part arrangements could sense the magic. After the Choraliers disbanded, Marian enjoyed stints with the Door County Chamber Singers, the New Day Singers, and in the choir at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Though the pandemic and its aftermath proved a challenging period for Door County’s adult choirs, she never lost her love of singing. Right on-key, she would still quietly sing the harmony parts of old favorites until a few weeks before her death.

Marian was an active parishioner at Corpus Christi Catholic Church and School (now Saint John Bosco), serving on the school board, helping with fundraising, volunteering with innumerable parish/school projects and serving as a lector. Marian and Rod were long-time supporters of many Door County cultural institutions including the Peninsula Players, Birch Creek, Northern Sky Theater, Peninsula Music Festival, Ridges Sanctuary, Maritime Museum, Friends of Potawatomi Park, Crossroads at Big Creek, YMCA, Little League baseball teams and the Door County Advocate.  
A gifted and dedicated master gardner and landscaper, Marian and Rod worked many happy years together tending their gardens and yard. Their generous spirit of volunteering saw them devote countless hours to help build and tend the gardens of Potawatomi Park and the Garden Door of the UW-Peninsular Research Station.  

Marian is survived by her four sons and grandchildren, Bill and his wife Karen Parr (Milwaukee) and their children, Kelley and Joe; Paul and Krystee Schlise (Alexandria, Virginia) and their children, Jake and Zoe; Tom Schlise (Chicago); Chuck and Tina Schlise (Dahlgren, Virginia) and their sons Nick and Nate; sister-in-law Jacquy (Vanden Heuvel) Stroh and numerous nieces and nephews on both sides of the family. Her husband Rod, sister Connie and brothers Earl (Bud) and Robert (Bob) Stroh preceded her in death. 

A memorial mass will be conducted at Corpus Christi Church at 11 am on Saturday, April 20, 2024, with a luncheon to follow.  Friends may call at the church on Saturday from 10 am until the time of service. Forbes Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.  Memorials may be directed to any of the organizations that Rod and Marian were involved with.