November 28, 1959 ~ November 20, 2020
Mary's Live Streamed Funeral Service can be viewed below: Mary Elizabeth Schlangen was born on November 28th, 1959 to Eugene Schwanbeck II and Leona (Darga) Schwanbeck in La Crosse, WI. She grew up in nearby La Crescent, MN graduating from high school there in 1978. She graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design in 1992. She died on November 20th, 2020 in Fargo, ND following a valiant 4-year battle with breast cancer. Mary was married to Stephen Schlangen in St. Paul, MN in 1993. They have two children: Theresa Schlangen (1994) and Gregory Schlangen (1996). Mary was a tireless and meticulous homemaker. She was an avid do-it-yourselfer in the areas of landscaping, gardening, home remodeling, upholstery refinishing, and hobby farm egg production. Mary took on the role of home school teacher for Theresa and Gregory from kindergarten through high school. Mary proactively lived out her Christian faith and undertook missions activities including work at an orphanage in Tijauna, Mexico in 1991, a school construction project in Nicaragua in 1999, a pilgrimage to Israel in 2008, and group facilitation for Living Free in conjunction with the Jail Chaplains Association in Fargo, ND from 2018-2019. Mary is preceded in death by her father Eugene Schwanbeck II and her mother Leona Schwanbeck. She is survived by her husband Stephen Schlangen of Fargo, ND, daughter Theresa Schlangen of Bismarck, ND, son Gregory (& Rachel) Schlangen of Georgetown, MN, sister Joan Drone of Coon Rapids, MN, brother Eugene III (& Erika) Schwanbeck of Rochester, MN, sister Nancy Topel of Gallatin Gateway, MT, sister Barb (& Bob) Shearer of Salem, SD, sister Mariese (& Jeff) Marvin of Hugo, MN, brother Mark (& Jeannie) Schwanbeck of Hokah, MN, brother John Schwanbeck of La Crescent, MN, sister Sueanna (& Paul) Johnson of La Crescent, MN, brother Lawrence (& Karen) Schwanbeck of St. Marys, KS, brother Bernie (& Karen) Schwanbeck of Prior Lake, MN, brother Robert (& Paula) Schwanbeck of St. Marys, KS and sister Monica (& Karl) Brueske of Chisago City, MN, mother-in-law Lynne Schlangen of Robbinsdale, MN, brother-in-law Phil Schlangen of Minneapolis, MN, brother-in-law Mark (& Desiree) Schlangen of Phoenix, AZ, brother-in-law Tom (& Amy) Schlangen of Chandler, AZ, and sister-in-law Karen (& Bill) Steele of Atkinson, NH. Memorials preferred to the New Life Center in Mary’s name.
Steve & Family:
I’m so sorry to learn of Mary’s passing. May her memory be a blessing. You will all be in my prayers.
Steve and family – so, so sorry to hear of Mary’s passing. Although I haven’ seen you all for years,
I remember the great conversations I had with Mary at the lake Alex reunions over the years. Our
experiences of travel and helping others was always so interesting to share. She was such an
intelligent and active person. I will miss her. Our prayers are with you and your family.
John & Wendy LaVergne
Sioux Falls, SD
Every time I drove by the Schlangen house, and that was often…I said a prayer for Mary. I will miss seeing her working tirelessly in her beautiful yard. Steve, Greg and Theresa You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Bruce and I were so saddened to hear of Mary’s passing! Please know you are in our prayers!
Pastor Bruce and Marsha Larson
I am so sorry for your loss Steve and family. May God see over you during these difficult times.
First there was the name – “There already is a Mary Schwanbeck.” But she is Mary Jean; we will have Mary Elizabeth. She never became Mary Beth. We loved her as Mary.
She was always our little sister. There’s a grade school picture, 1st grade?. She had the sweetest smile, a beautiful child.
The all-time favorite picture – early summer I 1994, day hike in the Sierra Nevadas, Mary and Steve sitting on a rock, sunshine streaming down on them through the pines. She was how many months pregnant??? (Hint: Theresa was born in July)
Another . memory: Gregory early in the morning, playing the piano, his friend, Daniel, sitting next to him and in the background Mary scurrying back and forth in the kitchen in her bathrobe, getting breakfast for everyone.
To remember Mary is to be reminded of the beautiful gardens she kept. –flowers around the house, all the vegetables she grew, the produce she readily shared, recipes swapped and traded. Knowing the love she had for her family, home-schooling her children, the vallues you faith instilled in them.
Throughout the years there was always an invitation to come to Fargo for a visit. Fargo seemed kind of far, but.in the end, we just couldn’t go there often enough, wanting to help, wishing we could somehow ease her pain, just wanting to spend time with her.
Now Mary is gone at rest and at peace. Her journey is over and there is the stark realization that she will never ever be here again, no more weeding in the garden, no more cooking in the kitchen preparing meals, no more phone calls. Yet her essence is everywhere and we will hold her in our hearts forever, never to be forgotten.
Mary had a beautiful smile, a contagious laugh, and a kind and caring soul. I will always remember her that way.
My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.
Steve and family, I will miss Mary deeply. She was a lovely, kind soul who touched my life. I will never forget the things she taught me about her faith, Hod’s word, and God’s love for me. Felt total acceptance from her and I loved her very much.
Steve and family, I am so very sorry for the loss of Mary. You each have a Very Special Guardian Angel watching over you. When I met Mary about 5 years ago, something clicked. We seemed to bond in a way that is hard to put into words. The more I got to know her, and wish so much we could have spent more time together, the more I was drawn to her. She helped me to understand and accept the struggle I was about to face a year ago. She showed me how to do it with dignity and most of all how to put it in God’s hands. I await the day we meet again.
I am so sorry for your great loss. I had many encouraging conversations with Mary the years we homeschooled. I always walked away refreshed. She had such an uplifting way about her. She also was great fun. We would always laugh about something. What a beautiful person inside and out. She will be greatly missed.
Steve & Family,
I am very sorry for the loss of your beloved wife, and all I can do is pray for you to have the strength to go on.
Let me know if there is anything I can do.
We are very sorry for your loss and will continue to keep you and your family in our prayers. Mary was always so positive and had a great heart for God, her family, and others.
So sorry to hear of Mary’s passing. It sounds like she was an amazing lady. May God be with you and your children during this difficult time and give you all peace.
Steve, we are so sorry for your loss… Mary was the most joyful part of our Living Free group—even when she brought us “healthy” treats! 😊 Praying for peace and sweet memories for all of you. ❤️
Steve and family, so sorry for your loss. Prayers of comfort and rich memories during this time. We’re here for you!
Mary was a lovely, precious gift to the world; gone too soon.
I remember the first time I met Mary. I was actually meeting the entire Schlangen family for the first time. It was Phil’s 40th birthday party. Karen and I flew from New Hampshire to join the rest of the family in the celebration. I was a little intimidated meeting everyone at once. Mary came up to me, a big smile on her face, and welcomed me to the clan. Every time I saw her after that she just exuded that positive energy. She was always fun to be around and always displaying her caring and nuturing soul.
As time moves on, we will miss her physical presence, but I know she is with us. Her faith is strong and I know she will be there. We can all take some comfort in that.
Almost every memory I have of Auntie Mary is one where she is smiling, laughing, and full of joy. She lived a blessed life filled with faith and grace, and always in a way that was true to herself. She will be missed as deeply as she is loved.
Mr Stephen Schlangen and Family, please except our Deepest Sympathies on the passing of Mary. over the years the only time i ever got to see, and talk to my cousins , were at the Darga Family Picnic’s, and Funerals. although we always waited for the Schwanbecks to show up in their Volkswagen Bus, and see how the kids have changed, and Grown over the years. Growing up so fast. my God how fast life passes us by, Stephen, i never met you, however looking at your Family pictures, tells me a Million stories of the outpouring of Love in your Family. God Bless You and your children. Stephen ,our prayers will always be with you and your Family .
My thoughts and prayers are with you all. Mary was a cousin of mine, we didn’t know each other very well but the few times I did see her she always was smiling. She was a warm, friendly, loving person and I always enjoyed talking with her. She will be missed, Colleen (Fritsch) Zak, and Steve Zak
Steve and family we are so sorry to hear of your loss. Our prayers to you all.
Dear Steve, I was heartbroken to learn of Mary’s passing. She was such a dear friend to me during high school – always kind and sensitive. My deepest sympathy to you and your family and the entire Schwanbeck family.
Our hearts are heavy to hear of Mary’s passing. We wish you peace in the days ahead Steve, Theresa and Gregory.
Our prayers our with all of you.
Cousin Connie (and Doug) Haley
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Mary was so giving and generous to others. May she rest in peace and may your memories give you comfort.
One of the Schlangen lakeside reunions was talking to Mary, amazed at how pretty she was and how much she was doing with her life. Truly missed.
Beautiful service, beautiful words. May God wrap his arms around you Steve, Teresa, Gregory and family, and grant you peace.
We were very saddened to hear of Mary’s passing. She was a very lovely lady. As we drove in or out, we always looked for Mary in the yard or garden. Mary always greeted us with a warm smile and a huge wave hello. I will miss that.
May you find comfort with your family, friends and all your memories of Mary.
What an emotion filled, beautiful, sad, joyful, touching, funny (at times), service for Mary. It was evident and not hard to believe how many lives Mary touched in her short life. Our hearts go out to you Steve, Theresa, and Greg. Mary will be truly missed.
It deeply saddens the Croatto family not being there in person to celebrate Mary’s life and legacy. We are thankful the opportunity to join online and hear everyone’s wonderful stories. The Croattos met the Schlangen family in the fall of 1997 while migrating to the Fargo Moorhead area, so Ian could attend MSU as a “Foreign” student from Canada. It was important for us to be part of a church family, so we set out one evening to 1st Assembly; little did we know that evening our families would become intertwined and produce so many incredible memories. A special memory that forged our friendship was Mary’s request for us to stay with Theresa & Greg while Mary participated in serving in Nicaragua. Trusting us with their precious children affirmed we were now family! Mary, thank you for caring for and nurturing your friendship with Rachel. I know your friendship was instrumental in making Rachel’s time, as a new young mom, in a new country, not only endurable but enriching as you two engaged in one of many adventures either at your home or around the Fargo Moorhead area and even taking you as far as Israel. Mary’s incredible patience and attentiveness always blew us away as she would lovingly smile and listen patiently to each of our answers to her question “How are you doing?” Plus, she would do it while putting together some delicious, healthy meal to share around the Schlangen family table. We took comfort knowing your doors were always open & available with a cozy room to stay in, stories to share, laughter and playful fun, or a needed hug and prayer. Mary couldn’t help but give! She served a generous God and lived just like Him giving of her heart, smile, whatever she could from her own bounty – especially from her gardens! Dear Mary, you have deeply enriched our lives and for that we are forever grateful! You have challenged us to simply be and do likewise with others. Thank you for being a faithful image bearer of God. We write with confidence you are one of the most genuine individuals we have ever met. We know Steve, Theresa, Greg & Rachel will continue with your legacy in bearing God’s image faithfully to all they meet. Love, Ian & Rachel, Robert, Amy and Hope
Lamentations 3: 22 (ESV)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore, I will hope in him.”
I am so sorry for your loss! Mary was an amazing woman! She has left an incredible legacy! You’re in our prayers!
My deepest condolences to family and Mrs. Brueske you know how much I grow deeply fond of you and family. You’ll be in my prayers. May God give peace at heart and be with you through this difficult time.
Mary’s funeral was the most touching and beautiful services I have ever attended – what a tribute to a wonderful person who exemplified Christ’s love and service over and over. My memories of Mary echo the words we heard over and over today: welcoming, warm, joyous and loving. We will continue to lift the Schlangen family in prayer.
I was saddened to hear of Mary’s passing. We volunteered together at church for many years. I have nothing but good memories of her and remember most her love for her children and the love she poured out to others. She lived a life of example. Please know you are all in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
My prayers are with Mary’s Husband and Children, all of Mary’s family on the loss of such a precious life. The Lord God comfort you all.
Dear Steve and Family! I am so sorry to hear of Mary’s passing. Such a beautiful lady and spirit. Cherish the memories that you have made, they can never be taken away. You are in my and Jon’s prayers🙏
Saddened to hear about Mary. Thinking of you and your family.
Steve and Family so sorry for your loss, keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you get through this difficult time. Mary was beautiful in all ways.
So sorry to hear about Mary’s passing. Steve, you and your family are in our thoughts & prayers.
Steve and family,
I am saddened to hear of Mary’s passing. This has to be extra hard due to limits on funerals and get togethers. Mary always had a smile whenever I saw her. My condolences!