Mary Ann Blahnik, 82, of Fish Creek passed away suddenly on December 30th, 2022. The heart that she so readily shared with so many ultimately wore out. She slipped into the restorative embrace of Jesus after a blessedly brief cardiac-related illness.
Mary Ann was born in Fish Creek on September 11, 1940 to Leora and Glen Jarman. A Fish Creek native most of her life, she attended both the town's two room schoolhouse and Gibraltar High School. As a young lady, Mary Ann helped run the family's Bayou Cottages and Fish Creek Motel. She also participated in many local beauty pageants winning Miss Independence 1957 and Miss Fish Creek 1959.
Mary Ann graduated from Rufus King High School in Milwaukee in 1958. She went on to graduate from Rockford College in 1961 where she was a national merit scholar and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Her junior year spent abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland sparked her affinity for international travel.
Mary Ann married Joel Blahnik in 1963. Over the years, they enjoyed their family, traveling and connecting with people. Together with her husband, Mary Ann spent 47 years tending to and restoring the Chambers Island Lighthouse as seasonal lighthouse keeper for the town of Gibraltar. Chambers Island, and the lighthouse specifically, was Mary Ann's happy place and passion project. She dedicated innumerable hours to researching and preserving island history and loved sharing her knowledge with island visitors.
After beginning her teaching career in Milwaukee, Mary Ann worked as both a public and school librarian. She retired in 2011 after serving the Sturgeon Bay School District for 30 years as the middle school and high school librarian. She shared her lifelong love of the written word with her students and Mrs. Blahnik was especially proud of her "Battle of the Books" competitors.
Mary Ann was a lifetime Girl Scout and enjoyed years of planning activities with her various troops. She enjoyed singing her heart out as a member of the Door County Chamber Singers and with the Dudley Birder Chorale. She loved gardening, nature, music, playing piano and was known for always whistling while she worked.
Especially important to Mary Ann was her faith in God and she was a lifelong member of the Fish Creek Community Church. Over the years she taught Sunday School, served on the church board, sat on numerous committees but especially loved heading the church's "shoebox" drive for Operation Christmas Child. She was also a volunteer at Scandia Village's Bargains Unlimited in Sister Bay.
Mary Ann is survived by her husband Joel; son, Jon (Christianna) of Sturgeon Bay WI; daughter, Betsy (Matt) Kuhn of Hilbert, WI; daughter, Jennifer (Robert) Hawley of Baileys Harbor, WI; sisters, Sue Kaeske of Fish Creek, WI; and Dr. Betty Adelson of Fresno, CA; brother- and sister-in-law, Jim and Judi Blahnik of Egg Harbor, WI; and beloved grandchildren, Connor (April), Makaylee, Cadence, Jack (Harlow) and Madeline; nieces, Chelsea (Nick) Mittermann, Marne Kaeske, Kendra Adelson and Dr. Danen Adelson and their respective families.
Mary Ann was preceded in death by her parents; her in-laws, Viola and Arthur Blahnik; nephew, Matthew Blahnik; brother, Glenn "Ed" Jarman; and brother-in-law, Skip Kaeske.
Visitation for Mary Ann will be held at Huehns Funeral Home in Sturgeon Bay on Sunday, January 15, 2023 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and at the Fish Creek Community Church on Monday, January 16, 2023 from 9:30 a.m. until the time of service at 10:30 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to wear bright colors. Mary Ann especially liked the color red and polka dots.
In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring Mary Ann with a donation to one of her favorite organizations: Samaritan's Purse (Operation Christmas Child), the American Red Cross, or Wisconsin Public Radio. Any unspecified monetary donation will be allocated to the continued preservation of the Chambers Island Lighthouse.
Huehns Funeral Home, Inc. & Door County Crematory LLC in Sturgeon Bay are assisting the Blahnik family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Mary Ann may be shared with her family through her tribute page at www.huehnsfuneralhome.com.