Community Champion and Marshfield’s Only Female Mayor Marilyn Hardacre Passes Away at Age 84

Marilyn Hardacre
Hardacre's official Mayoral Portrait, taken by John H Keel Photography

Hansen-Schilling Funeral Home – Marilyn Louise Hardacre (nee: Amrine) passed away peacefully on November 29, 2019, at the Aster Assisted Living facility with her family at her side. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 AM Saturday, December 7, 2019 at Zion Methodist Church (2106 N. Peach Street) in Marshfield. Rev Lourdes Magalhaes will officiate. Visitation will be held from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM Friday, December 6, 2019 at the Hansen-Schilling Funeral Home (1010 E. Veterans Parkway) in Marshfield and again from 10:00 AM until the time of the service at the church on Saturday.

Marilyn was born March 14, 1935, to the late William L. and D. Pauline (nee: Gambill) Amrine, in Marysville, Ohio, where she spent her entire childhood. She graduated cum laude from The Ohio State University in 1956 with a major in home economics. While there she was very active in all aspects of campus life, holding many leadership positions. She was a member of the varsity debate team for three years, elected Sophomore Class Secretary, and as a senior was named one of five outstanding senior women at Ohio State.

While at Ohio State, she met her soul mate and future husband, Jerry M. Hardacre, MD, and they married June 9, 1957. While he completed his medical education and surgical training at Ohio State, they had three children, Jerry, Jim, and Beth. Jerry was recruited by the Marshfield Clinic, and the family moved to Marshfield in the summer of 1966. Three years later, their youngest child, Jeffrey, was born.

Marilyn’s community service and civic engagement started shortly after she moved to Marshfield. She joined St. Joseph’s Hospital Auxiliary, eventually serving as its president. To support her kids’ activities, she was a Cub Scout Den Mother and Campfire leader.

In 1971, Mayor Tippelt asked Marilyn to join Marshfield’s Recreation Committee, and thus began her “political” career. A few years later, in 1975, she was elected to the Common Council, representing Marshfield’s 4th ward. She was the first woman council member since 1925.

Upon Mayor Tippelt’s retirement, Marilyn decided to run for Mayor. After knocking on every door in the city and with the help of an organization of many volunteers, she was elected Marshfield’s first woman Mayor in April 1978 and held that post for four terms, stepping down in 1986. She often said her most notable contributions as Mayor were improvement of local streets, industrial park development, bringing organizational efficiency to government, and improving recreational and housing opportunities, particularly for the elderly and low-income families.

After her service as Mayor, Marilyn had the honor of serving as the Executive Director of the Marshfield Development Corporation and subsequently the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a position she held until 1997.

Marilyn served on innumerable local, regional, and statewide boards and committees. She was the first female president of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and was appointed to posts by both Republican and Democratic Governors. Perhaps her most enduring contributions from this career of service to Marshfield were her role in the development of the Highway 13 Boulevard (Veterans Parkway) and influencing the State of Wisconsin in making Highway 10 a four lane divided highway from Marshfield to the Fox Cities.

In addition to her work as Mayor and Executive Director of MACCI, Marilyn volunteered in many ways to improve the lives of the people of Marshfield and the surrounding community. She played significant roles in the United Way, Hope Lodge, the House of the Dove, and many other local organizations. She served as a mentor in the Pathway Partners Mentoring Program at Marshfield Senior High. She is most proud of the work she did serving as the President of the YMCA Board of Directors and helping in the building of the first YMCA facility. She served on the boards of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Marshfield Medical Research Foundation, the Marshfield Area United Way, and numerous others. Retirement did not hold her back as she stayed very active in many civic endeavors, even up until this past year. She was very proud of the Marilyn L. Hardacre Scholarship, established with the Marshfield Area Community Foundation, which benefits local high school students.

Marilyn loved the theatre and the arts. She was an avid supporter of the music and theatre departments at Marshfield Senior High School and UW-Wood County. She traveled to New York annually with the UW-Wood County tour group, many times bringing along a daughter, daughter-in-law or granddaughter. Without a doubt, she also demonstrated her passion for the Scarlet and Gray of The Ohio State University, yet was equally proud of the fact all of her children obtained a degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

In 2015, a downtown park honoring Marilyn, named “Hardacre Park,” for her many contributions to the city of Marshfield was proposed and built by Marshfield native Paul Rogers, the city and others. Marilyn was truly touched by this tribute. Hardacre Park was also designed as a piece of artwork for downtown Marshfield, with twenty murals painted by local artist Gene Wesley to capture the past and present life in Marshfield.

Marilyn’s greatest accomplishment was playing the major role in the raising of her and Jerry’s four children. Despite her busy schedule, she made it to virtually all concerts, assemblies, and sporting events. Her roles as mother and role model to her children and grandchildren will be her greatest, most enduring legacy.

Marilyn is survived by her brother Max (Karen) of Anthem, AZ; her son Jerry II MD (Sarah) of Racine, WI, and their children, Jenna, Jerry (Jay) III, and Jesse; her son James (Terry) of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and their children, Riley and Jade; her daughter Elizabeth Staskunas (Tony) of West Allis, WI, and their children, John (Megan Moze), Michael, and Annie; and her son Jeffrey MD (Hadley Wood MD) of Shaker Hts., OH, and their children, Beatrice and Rosalie. She was preceded in death by her husband, Jerry, September 29, 2014.

The family would like to thank the physicians and staff of the Marshfield Clinic Health System, the staff of the Aster Assisted Living Facility, and the staff of Heartland Hospice for their compassionate care of Marilyn. They would also like to thank the entire Langreck family for their support of our parents over the last 20 years. Recognition is given to the entire Chen family who have been special friends of the Hardacres for nearly 50 years.

In lieu of flowers, please consider honoring our mother with a donation to The Marilyn L. Hardacre Scholarship Fund, c/o Marshfield Area Community Foundation, 211 E. 2nd St, Suite #2, Marshfield, WI 54449 OR The Marshfield YMCA, 410 W. McMillan St, Marshfield, WI 54449; or the charity of your choice.

Finally, her children would like to wholeheartedly thank the entire community of Marshfield for welcoming a family of Buckeyes in 1966. Marshfield is a community that cares about its education system and its core values. All of us are very proud to call Marshfield our hometown. We greatly appreciate the love and support that you have shown our family and the permanent recognition of our mother’s importance to Marshfield, Hardacre Park.

Visitation and Memorial Details here.