We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Garrity Funeral Home
Marilyn Leys, 80, of Prairie du Chien, died of Alzheimer's disease on Sunday, July 10, 2022, at the Prairie Maison Nursing Home, where she had been a resident for 3.5 years. Marilyn Faith Shapiro was born December 11, 1941, in Philadelphia to Benjamin and Edna Shapiro. After graduating from Philadelphia's Olney High School, she enrolled in the School of Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That's where she met and married Ron Leys, also a journalism student. Their first son, Jon, was born there, and Marilyn graduated in 1963. The family moved to Rockford, Illinois, where Ron worked as a reporter for the Rockford Morning Star newspaper. Their second son, Tony, was born in Rockford. Marilyn continued her education at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she received a master's degree in education. They had moved to Milwaukee County in 1969, and Marilyn taught in Custer, Rufus King and John Marshall High Schools in Milwaukee for 20 years, specializing in journalism and English. Tony and Jon also went on to graduate from UW-Madison. On retirement in 1991 Marilyn and Ron moved to a beef cattle farm near Gays Mills in Crawford County. Marilyn was an enthusiastic flower gardener, and a self-taught and excellent cook. She managed to live in Wisconsin for more than 20 years without showing a speck of interest in the Packers — until Brett Favre came along and shattered her indifference. In midlife, she gained a sudden affection for green-and-gold sweatshirts. Her main interests and talents were always writing. She wrote several books, fiction, and non-fiction. They included the novel Madame Jane, based on the life of Jane Fisher, the daughter of an early fur trader in Prairie du Chien who later married Hercules Dousman and lived in a mansion where Villa Louis now stands. In 2011, Marilyn and Ron sold the farm and moved to Prairie du Chien. Marilyn served on the Crawford County Administration Building's art committee and on the St. Feriole Island Statue Park committee. There were many adventures over the years, including canoeing through the Boundary Waters, sailing across Lake Michigan in the family sailboat, driving to and exploring Alaska, camping in many places across the United States and Canada, and traveling the world, including to Uzbekistan, Cuba, Panama, Russia, The Netherlands, and a number of times to Mexico. Marilyn was a brilliant, unassuming, cheerful person, always up to try something new. She loved friends and family, and her children and grandchildren above all. Survivors include her husband, Ron; son Jon and his wife Julie, of Lake Orion, Mich., and their daughter, Emma; and son Tony of Des Moines, Iowa, and his daughter, Ellen, and son, Nathan. A fourth grandchild, Meagan, died at the age of 15.
The family will host a potluck lunch at noon on Sunday, July 24, in a shelter in Prairie du Chien's Lawler Park. Bring a dish to pass. A more formal service will be held later in a synagogue in Milwaukee, where other friends and family live.