Elaine Donna Schankey went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on December 26, 2022, surrounded by family, at Mayo Luther Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisconsin after a long battle with heart issues and COPD. Elaine was 82 years old at the time of her death.
Elaine was born in Eau Claire, in Eau Claire County, Wisconsin. She was the 2nd of three children born to Macie Hays and Arvilla (Gunderson) Hays. She grew up with her two siblings, older sister, Carol and younger brother, Raymond. As a small child, Elaine and her family lived on their family farm as her father worked with his father and brothers. Then, they moved to another farm a few miles away as her father worked as a farm hand for the owners. When her father took a job at Gould Foundry, their family moved into the City of Eau Claire. They lived in a small house that later they would refer to as, “The Shack,” until her father built their forever home on the hill just above the shack.
As a teenager, Elaine was a member of the Co-Op Teen Club. Elaine attended Central High School and later graduated from Memorial High School. As a teenager, she played the violin in the Memorial High School orchestra and with her older sister, she sang a jingle for the Co-Op Shopping Center on the radio.
When Elaine was roughly 13-years old, she began writing to a 15-year-old boy, Merlin Schankey, who lived in Mukwanago, Wisconsin. Elaine and Merlin wrote to each other for 4 years and 5 months before they ever met. Just 10 months later, on September 6, 1958, they were married settled into their first home in Mukwonago, Wisconsin.
In 1960, Elaine and Merlin had their first child, Deborah Ann and in 1963, they welcomed their second child, Denise Annette. As a young mother, Elaine was a stay-at-home mother, caring for her young family in Mukwanago, Wisconsin. Then, in October 1965, she moved back to Eau Claire with Merlin and their young family. They spent the first 10 months living with Elaine’s parents until they bought a home. It was during the one year they lived in this home that Elaine and Merlin became foster parents. During this time as foster parents, they cared for one teenage girl and five babies. In the summer of 1967, Elaine and her family moved to their forever home where they spent the next 52 years. The first baby they cared for, named Kathy, came to them when she was 10 days old. Kathy was so precious that Elaine and Merlin wanted to adopt her but at that time adoptions within the same county were not allowed. So, at 10 months old, Kathy was adopted by another family, which Elaine and her family grieved.
As a young mother, Elaine made much of the clothing worn by her daughters. She also spent the summers tending her vegetable garden and canning her harvest. In 1970, Elaine began working at the schools for the Eau Claire School District. Eventually, she became the head baker at North High School. She worked for the Eau Claire School District for 30 years. Later, she worked 7 years as an Associate for Walmart. As well, Elaine was a member of Pinehurst Lutheran Church for over 50 years, where she was a member of the choir, the Ladies Aid and occasionally played the violin. In the last 11 years of her life, Elaine endured many health issues including congestive heart failure and COPD.
In May of 2021, Merlin passed away. As Elaine put it, when Merlin died, it was like a part of her body was missing. However, in the summer of 2022, after 55 years of not knowing what happened to the precious little girl they wanted to adopt so long ago, Kathy, now an adult woman (named Kristen), reached out to Elaine. A few weeks later, Kristen visited Elaine, which brought her a great deal of joy. Elaine loved her family dearly and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were the light of her life.
More importantly than all this, Elaine was a woman of faith. She loved Jesus and looked forward to the day she would be reunited with her family.
Elaine is preceded in death by her husband (Merlin), parents (Macie and Arvilla), brother (Raymond) and granddaughter (Debra). She is survived by her daughters, Deborah Piskoty and Denise Connell, her beloved foster daughter, Kristen Lowe, 12 grandchildren to include Tabitha (Kent) Cater, Shane Kent, Natashia (Piskoty) Laughnan, April (Piskoty) Coleman, Jared Schankey-Bowen, Noah Piskoty, Marissa (Connell) Durham, Alaura (Piskoty) Berg, Austin Connell, Symbria Piskoty, Allen Piskoty, and Hunter Piskoty.
A visitation will be held at Hulke Family Funeral Home on Friday, January 6, 2023 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Cremation will occur directly after the visitation. The memorial service will take place at 11 am at Pinehurst Lutheran Church, 3304 Fern Court, Eau Claire, Wisconsin 54703, on Saturday, January 7, 2023. There will be no visitation on Saturday before the services at church. A private family inurnment will take place at a later date in the Rest Haven Cemetery in the Town of Washington.
Friends and family may offer condolences online at www.hulkefamilyfh.com.
Hulke Family Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 3209 Rudolph Road, Eau Claire, WI 54701 is assisting the family with the arrangements.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Elaine D. Schankey, please visit our floral store.