Molly Marietta Landis (née Swanson), born August 14, 1932 in Mosinee, Wisconsin to Carl and Annette Swanson (née Erdman), passed away peacefully on Thursday, September 14, 2023 at the age of 91. Molly spent her entire young life in Mosinee, attending the Mosinee Public Schools and graduating from Mosinee High School in 1950. She went on to study elementary education at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and, after graduating in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, she pursued a career in education, teaching lower primary children in the Green Bay and Appleton, Wisconsin Public Schools.
In 1957, Molly met John Ralph Landis of Appleton, WI, at the time a secondary mathematics instructor, and they married in the summer of 1958. In 1959, the couple moved to Roseville, MN, where, while John pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, Molly taught in the Roseville Public Schools. Upon completion of John's degree, the couple returned to Appleton where Molly resumed her teaching career in Appleton. In 1962, they had their first child, John R Landis Jr, and Molly subsequently made the choice to leave teaching temporarily in order to devote her time to raising John and the couple’s two daughters, Sally (1964) and Sandra (1966). She returned to the classroom in 1974 and spent the next 15 years again teaching lower primary at Badger and Franklin Elementary Schools in Appleton, masterfully introducing hundreds of young people to the “four Rs” and instilling them with many precious life lessons.
Molly was a proud Swede, her father and his siblings having been first-generation immigrants to the United States, and loved all things Scandinavian, including strong coffee, lutefisk and herring. She had a wonderful sense of humor and had a fondness for indulging in pranks, such as arriving at friends’ homes or her children’s college dormitories silent and fully masked on Halloween or exchanging jokes over the phone with dear friend Tim DuVall. She was also a fantastic storyteller, enthusiastically sharing stories about her childhood, many of which focused on happy memories of Mosinee, hunting and fishing with her father or singing and playing the piano with her mother. One particular favorite was a much embellished tale of her mischievously setting a prairie alight. She also loved to reminisce about her time participating in the Campfire Girls, working as a lifeguard, watching local sporting events (featuring beloved local sports legends ‘Popeye’ Knauf, Louis Grzadzielewski, and Eddie Kuklinski), and creating original ice-skating shows with her sister Nancy and other members of their close-knit Mosinee neighborhood. Molly loved the outdoors and was an enthusiastic observer of all wildlife, being especially passionate about migrating birds (shown in her membership in the International Crane Foundation). She loved children and animals, especially dogs, and would often quip that she only wished to be remembered as having been “loved by children and dogs.”
Molly was forever busy and constantly made it known that she “loved a good project.” During her lifetime, she was engaged in countless philanthropic endeavors, including playing an active role in organizations such as PEO, King’s Daughters, Meals on Wheels, and Appleton's A Better Chance Program, for which she and John served as host parents for many years. She loved gardening, mysteries, theater, and card games, and took great pleasure in partaking, with John and their many dear friends, in monthly meetings of their bridge club. She was endlessly creative and indulged in an array of artistic pastimes, including, among others, knitting, quilting, embroidery, sewing, and miniatures. She had a life-long interest in history and the environment and loved exploring our national parks, Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone, and the many historic battlefields of the Civil and Revolutionary Wars being among her favorite destinations. She was also fascinated with the night sky, and she and John could often be found gazing skyward, searching for shooting stars or any number of celestial phenomena that might be on offer on a given evening. She had a tireless work ethic, an inspiring generosity, an inquiring mind, and an extraordinary tenacity, and her family will miss these and her many other amazing qualities dearly.
Molly was preceded in death by her husband John, her parents, Carl and Annette, and her sister, Sally. She is survived by her three children – John (Michelle), Sally, and Sandra (Peter) – her sister, Nancy Tebo; her four grandchildren (Gunnar, Gustaf, Grace, and Peter); one great grandchild (Jaxon); extended family; and many wonderful friends.
Molly’s family wishes to thank the staffs of Theda Clark Medical Center and Cherry Meadows Hospice in Appleton for the expert care, kindness and compassion they extended to Molly and her family in her final days. They would also like to thank Julie and Tim Pitsch and their family for their ongoing support of both John and Molly over the last twelve years.
A reception celebrating the couple’s lives will take place at a later date.
Memorials are suggested to the Fox Valley Humane Society. The family requests that no contributions be sent to their private address.