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Marian and Lorraine Ellison spent their entire lives in Superior, developing a deep love of their community and their church. And after spending their careers working for the city's public schools, the sisters understood the importance of education.
Lorraine died in 2007, and left her estate to her sister. When Marian passed away in June 2012 at age 87, one of her final wishes was that their assets be used to help others in the community. That included a significant six-figure gift to the UW-Superior Foundation to provide scholarships for UW-Superior students.
"Because education was so important to them, they wanted part of their estate to go to scholarships," said Sherry Mattson, a 1972 UW-Superior graduate who was a long-time friend and confidant of the Ellison sisters.
The gift made through Marian's estate created the Lorraine M. Ellison and Marian E. Ellison Endowed Scholarship Fund. It will provide scholarships to students majoring in education.
"We are deeply grateful to Marian and Lorraine for their generosity and commitment to education," said Jeanne Thompson, vice chancellor of university advancement. "They worked to help others throughout their lives, and now their gift will continue to provide help to others for generations to come."
Lorraine graduated from UW-Superior in 1944 with a degree in elementary education and earned an advanced degree in 1953. She spent most of her career teaching at Bryant Elementary School in Superior.
Marian attended secretarial school and took a job at the administrative office of the Superior public schools. She served as assistant to the district's superintendents for many years.
Mattson got to know the Ellison sisters when they all bowled on the same team at Hennessey's on Tower Avenue. The pair used Mattson's accounting service to prepare their taxes, and Mattson occasionally provided financial advice.
"We've been like family, even though we're not related," Mattson said.
For many years Marian and Lorraine lived with their parents. When their parents passed away, the sisters remained together, living a careful, frugal lifestyle.
With only a few distant relatives, the Ellisons decided they wanted their estates to be used to provide scholarships in the community. Mattson suggested an attorney, who the sisters contacted to prepare their wills.
Along with a scholarship fund at UW-Superior, Marian Ellison's will created a similar scholarship fund with the Superior School District for Superior High School students who enroll at UW-Superior, doubling the impact for UW-Superior students. Another gift provides support for United Presbyterian Church, which the sisters attended regularly.
"They were very connected to education," Mattson said, "and their church was really important to them."
After a lifetime of contributing to the city they loved, Marian and Lorraine Ellison have left a legacy that will benefit their community far into the future.
"Marian and Lorraine had a lot of good times together," Mattson said. "Now, all they had will go to good use in the community."
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