Obituary: Mary Lou (Olness) Slininger


June 2, 2023

Mary Lou (Olness) Slininger, age 67, passed away peacefully on April 28, 2023, at REM Fairview house in Cloquet, Minnesota.

Mary Lou Olness was born on November 17, 1955 in Bagley, Minnesota to parents Gorde and Viola (Johnson) Olness. As an infant, Mary Lou moved with her family to Gonvick, Minnesota where she spent her elementary and junior high years at Gonvick and Clearbrook. She attended Lincoln High School in Thief River Falls, Minnesota and graduated from there in 1974. Following graduation she moved to Bagley, Minnesota to stay with her sister. She married Zane Kembitskey in 1980 and in that union the couple had two children Zane Gorde, and Adam Lee. Later she married Ralph Slininger. Mary Lou called northern Minnesota her home and lived and worked in a number of places including Bemidji, the Iron Range, Crookston, Fosston and Thief River Falls. After Mary Lou suffered a traumatic brain injury, she moved to Duluth where she was supported by adult caregivers at TBI. The last several years she lived at REM Fairview in Cloquet. Mary Lou considered the staff and roommates in these homes her second family.

Mary Lou demonstrated a strong work ethic and held a variety of jobs including seamstress, recycling assistant and retail sorter for Good Will Industries. Mary Lou enjoyed conversing with people, sharing stories, and playing board games. She was a fan of country western and John Wayne movies, and she couldn’t miss watching her favorite game shows “Price is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.” It was a really good day for Mary Lou when she was able to go shopping or a movie and then go out to eat at a restaurant and order pancakes, walleye, or shrimp. Mary Lou’s birthday was a special day for her, and she especially enjoyed celebrating her birthday with friends, family and staff.

Those who knew Mary Lou will always remember her as a diehard Packers football fan-- even though she lived her whole life in Minnesota. Packer posters and memorabilia decorated her room. On a game day, you could find her watching the Packers while wearing some of her Packer attire. If you brought up the topic of the Vikings versus the Packers, she would adamantly tell you who she believed was the best team, and it wasn’t the purple one according to her.

Mary Lou struggled with a number of health and life altering injuries and illnesses over the years, but she had an indomitable spirit and fought back from her injuries and illnesses with resolve and determination.

A Memorial and Celebration of Her Life is scheduled for Mary Lou on June 10 at 1 pm at Cease Funeral Home in Bagley, Minnesota with visitation one hour before the service. A reception/lunch will follow the service at Cease Funeral Home. Paster Kris Synder will officiate. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Mary Lou’s life. The family would like to thank Mary’s care team for their years of service.

Burial services will be held at Nora Township, Bagley, Minnesota following the service.

Mary Lou is survived by her six siblings: Shirley Delage of McIntosh, MN, Josephine Kelly of Edinburg, ND, John (Sherry) Olness of Superior, WI, Gorde (Rita) Olness of Clearbrook MN, Lueman (Roselie) Olness of Andover, MN and Viola Myklejord of Fosston, MN, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and her friends and staff at her adult care facilities in Duluth and Cloquet, MN.

She is preceded in death by her parents Gorde and Viola Olness, Clearbrook, MN, one infant brother, Gary, her sister Gloria Olness, Bagley, MN, her sister June Hoon, Palmdale, California, brother-in-laws Brian Kelley, Sheldon Delage,and David Myklejord, her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and several cousins.


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