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Ernst and Ella Stuckey Scholarship Fund Helps Foster Love of Education

Ernst and Ella Stuckey Scholarship Fund Helps Foster Love of Education

(Marion) Ernst and Ella Stuckey, a local couple from Prospect, made education a priority in their lives and in the lives of their five children. Now, their grandchildren are starting a new scholarship fund in their memory.

“We can’t think of a better way to honor their memories than by helping others pursuing their educations to succeed,” said Dr. Stephen Erlandson, who founded the fund with his wife, Linda.

Ernst Stuckey’s family had moved to Prospect in the 1880s. The family-owned a meat market near the interurban train tracks next to the fire station. His father, John, and his brother, Rudolph, were butchers and firemen. His sister, Emma, taught English at the local German school.

A photo of the couple holding hands.
Ernst and Ella Stuckey

Ernst met his wife, Ella, while they worked summer jobs at a hotel in Charlevoix, Michigan, around 1912. Ernst graduated from Western Reserve (now Case Western Reserve). Ella graduated from Michigan State Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University.) The couple married in 1917 and settled in Marion. Ernst served in the US Army in 1918 in France as a quartermaster. Ella taught school in Marion.

After the war, with a growing family, Ernst worked as an accountant and business manager at Frank’s Department Store. They moved to Cherry Street and lived in their home there for thirty years. Their children attended Marion City Schools. Four girls and one boy enjoyed running around town, riding the trolley, and visiting the local soda shop. Lucille (Lucy), Kathryn (Kay), Virginia (Ginny), Barbara (Bobby), and John were a popular family who enjoyed many activities, including card games, scouting, and playing musical instruments.

While the Great Depression added challenges, Ernst and Ella rose to meet them. Ernst worked two or three jobs to make ends meet. Ella managed a busy household and made all of their clothes. Their relatives who owned the butcher shop often bartered goods since no one had money to spend. No matter how tight times were, education was a priority.

“If you were a Stuckey, you went to college,” recalled Dr. Erlandson.

The Stuckey family celebrated Ernst and Ella’s 50th anniversary at their son’s home in Marion in 1967. From left to right: Kathryn (Kay) Erlandson, Virginia (Ginny) Smoot, Lucille (Lucy) Spetnagel, Ernst Stuckey, Ella Stuckey, Barbara (Bobby) Ehrlich, and John Stuckey.

Always a competitive family, two of the girls went to Miami University and two went to its rival, Ohio University. Their brother went to Ohio Northern University. The four girls became teachers while John became an attorney in Marion.

World War II caused upheaval. Kay worked at a factory shipping tank parts to the front. As she spoke some German, she also supervised German POWs who worked at the plant.

Lucy and Kay moved back in with Ernst and Ella to have their babies while their husbands were serving overseas. John married a teacher from Ohio Northern. His bride, Lois, taught at Silver Street Elementary (now Hayes) and raised their children here.

While the sisters and their families eventually moved away from Marion, they remained close. For many years they would visit together in Marion or on Lake Erie with their parents. After Ernst, Ella, and brother John passed away, the sisters and John’s wife, Lois, made sure to get together as often as possible.

In 1981, the five women with spouses, children, grandchildren, and eventually great-grandchildren, began a tradition of gathering for biannual reunions in Gatlinburg, TN. The family came from Ohio, seven other states, and Ontario, Canada. The reunions continue despite a pause during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kay’s son, Stephen, went to college to become a medical doctor. He met the woman who he would eventually marry in North Carolina. Erlandson’s parents divorced while he was in college and they could not support Stephen’s education. He relied on work-study jobs and financial aid.

Dr. Stephen Linda Erlandson

“With a food budget of $5 a week, I sometimes skipped meals. The dean came to check on me because I had lost weight. If I got the veggie plate at the Coffee Cup Cafe, the waitresses would give me some extra bread,” Stephen remembered.

“Many times our date night was a bag of peanuts and a free movie,” Linda recalled.

Their struggles make them happy to help others.

“An affordable education is really important. I encourage my patients to attend community college. We do not want someone to not be able to get ahead because of finances,” Stephen said.

Because of their fond memories of the family roots in Prospect, the scholarship will prioritize students from Prospect who attend Marion Tech.

Stephen’s mother, Kay, taught special education for 20 years, encouraging some of her students to attend college. Lucy taught music in Kingsport, Tennessee. Ginny was an artist and taught school as well (her daughter, Karen became school superintendent of a system in Reno, NV). Barbara taught school in Ohio and Indiana in the early years of her marriage.

Stephen’s wife, Linda, was a teacher before raising her children. She was also an active community volunteer. Linda instilled the value of education in their children, who both graduated from college. Their son has a Ph.D. in educational technology and is currently a curriculum specialist and online educational consultant. Their daughter who has master’s degrees in Education and School Psychology now teaches at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, Canada. The family is excited to help weave the thread of education through other families with this scholarship fund.

“It’s a great value for the money,” said Dr. Erlandson. “People really need it. College is life-changing if you can make it to that next step. “

Marion Tech serves a large number of students who are the first in their families to attend college, as well as a number of nontraditional students who juggle attending college and raising a family. The average student’s age is 27. The college takes extra steps to support first-generation college students.

“Your donation can really make a difference in the lives of a student from Marion Tech,” said Mike Stuckey, cousin of Stephen Erlandson and director of the Marion Tech Foundation. “It goes far.”

Mike Stuckey, Director of the Marion Tech Foundation

While many Marion Tech students juggle working full-time, raising a family, and attending college, the COVID-19 pandemic has made that even more challenging, causing enrollment to fall. The Erlandson’s are excited to help students get to graduation. Local donors who remember Ernst, Ella, and their offspring have already made donations to this endowed fund.

“It is great to see a need and recognize that you can do something about it,” said Linda Erlandson.

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