Sister Bay businesswoman and community leader, Marilyn J. Jensen-Van Gemert, 66 years of age, of Fish Creek, passed away early Wednesday morning, November 2, 2022. She fought a gracious and dignified battle against Creutzfeldt Jakob disease. Marilyn was the current owner of Sister Bay Trading Company, and was highly sought after for her interior designing talents.
She was born December 9, 1955 in Chicago, Illinois. Marilyn spent summers in Jackson Harbor on Washington Island, helping her grandparents, Charles and Mayme run the family resort, Lindgren Cottages. In addition, she worked at Foscos Fiasco. Every spare minute she spent with her horses, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Spice.
Marilyn and John Jensen spent summers camping in Peninsula Park while selling John’s handmade oak furniture at different venues.
They eventually moved to Sister Bay full-time in 1985 after building their first store, Country Oak, across from the Country Walk Shops. They founded Sister Bay Trading Company in 1994 and transitioned to their new current home on Hwy 42 in 1999. Sister Bay Trading continues to thrive at that location.
Marilyn had a natural talent for interior design. She and John built their first Sister Bay home, which was later featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for its design and decoration.
Marilyn was the first woman to sit on the Sister Bay Village Board. She was elected on August 13, 1991 and served until April 14, 1998. She cast the deciding vote in favor of building the Sister Bay Village Marina.
Marilyn was also very active in the Sister Bay Advancement Association and the Chamber of Commerce. She had a passion for helping young women entrepreneurs in Interior Design and other young business people start their own businesses and become successful entrepreneurs.
Marilyn was passionate about animal welfare and served on the Door County Humane Society Board for 15 years, 12 as President. During her tenure, they procured land, built a state of the art facility, and with others, did the fundraising that satisfied the mortgage.
Marilyn’s love of animals was put on full display when Sister Bay Trading Company became one of the first dog-friendly stores on the peninsula which led to a movement convincing lodging establishments of the benefits of becoming pet-friendly.
More recently, Marilyn along with friends, sponsored the purchase and training of the Door County Sheriff’s Department new canine, TJ.
While raising funds for the Humane Society at Fall Fest in 2010, she met Rob Van Gemert and they were married on September 2, 2016.
Marilyn loved working with Rob outdoors, and she was an accomplished gardener and floral designer. Marilyn and Rob loved to travel and work outside together improving their properties. Marilyn especially loved throwing holiday parties and working out at the YMCA.
Marilyn will be missed by all those whose lives she touched either through business, volunteer work, or simply a friend she met along her journey. Her bright smile will be remembered always.
Marilyn is survived by her husband, Rob Van Gemert of Fish Creek; her mother, Nancy Lindgren of Sister Bay; her brothers, Jim (Kathy) of Racine, Jack (friend Krista), Tom (Marge) of Kenosha; and sister-in-law, Darlene of Egg Harbor; and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her father; and her twin brother, Steve.
Marilyn was cremated and a graveside ceremony will be held at Blossomberg Cemetery in Peninsula Park in the Springtime.
Rob would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Mayo Clinic, Unity Hospice, and the entire staff of the Pete and Jelaine Horton Skilled Nursing Facility, who provided comfort for Marilyn and Rob as she endured the fight against Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease.
Marilyn had asked that any memorials in her memory be directed to the Humane Society of Wisconsin, Door County Campus, 3475 Park Drive, Sturgeon Bay, 54235.
Huehns Funeral Home, Inc. in Sturgeon Bay is assisting the Van Gemert family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Marilyn may be shared with her family through her tribute page at www.huehnsfuneralhome.com.