Ehlinger, Sally Jean (nee Steckart)
October 5, 1946 – November 27, 2017
Age 71, a lifelong learner, teacher, and tireless and powerful advocate for children, women’s issues, individuals with special needs and chronic and terminal illnesses died at home in Minneapolis with a normal blood sugar on November 27, 2017. Sally was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin on October 5, 1946 and recognized early in life the importance of physical activity. This led her to a BS degree in physical education at La Crosse State University. She taught K-12 PE in Madison, WI and Harrisburg, PA before achieving masters and PhD degrees in early childhood physical education at the U of MN. She became a certified instructor in yoga and tai chi chih as a way of helping people with disabilities and chronic diseases achieve an optimal level of physical and mental health. Not being a naturally gifted athlete made her a superb PE teacher for children and adults at all levels of ability. To extend her influence in physical education, Sally worked at St. Cloud State University as a supervisor of student teachers; at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Health as a researcher and program developer; and for the Melpomene Institute for Women’s Health Research, the HCMC Department of Pediatrics, Resources for Child Caring, and several Head Start programs as a physical activity consultant. Her volunteer work included being the Women’s Issues chair for the League of Women Voters in Salt Lake City and Hershey, PA, a teacher at Pathways (a resource for people with chronic and terminal illnesses) and at the St. Stephen’s Special Needs Program, and a Prayer Leader at the Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community. Among her many accomplishments was completing the Deseret News marathon and the Birkebiner cross country ski race, singing at Carnegie Hall with the St. Norbert College Chamber Singers, and creating the norm of having fresh fruits and vegetables at all events that included food. She was also a superb editor which helped her husband and children become better writers and her students embrace the importance of red pen corrections. Her greatest achievement was raising two wonderful and accomplished daughters and being an inspiration and role model for numerous other women and young girls. Her decades-long tussle with brittle diabetes eventually took its toll on her body and her brain. Yet, even as her health declined, her indomitable spirit and unique sense of humor and joy persisted to the very end. Preceded in death by parents Robert and Marguerite Steckart, brother John, and sister Julie. Survived by Ed (Buck) her husband of 48 years; daughters Betsy (Scott) Featherstone, Blaine, MN and Gretchen (Troy Mayhew), Jacksonville, FL; granddaughters Emma and Hannah Featherstone; grandsons Hollis and Hayes Mayhew, brothers Robert (Barb) Steckart, Green Bay, Jim (Grace), Leawood KS, Tom (Debbie), Wausau, WI, Paul (Barb), De Pere, WI; sisters Sue (Joe) Jarosh, Baileys Harbor, WI, Mary Steckart, De Pere, WI; cousins Carol Wright, Mary Jarosz, and Patrick Mc Kloskey; and numerous nieces, nephews, and in-laws. Sally’s life will be celebrated at the Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community at 2201 First Ave S. in Minneapolis, MN on Friday, December 1, from 4-8 PM with stories and songs at 6:30 and again on Saturday, December 2 at with a visitation at 1:00 PM and a celebratory liturgy at 2:30 PM with more visiting time and food following. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Sally’s name to the charity of your choice or to the Lift Garage https://www.theliftgarage.org/donate or to Isaiah https://isaiahmn.org/donate/ . Special thanks to: HealthStar Home Health Care and Hospice of the Twin Cities which allowed Sally to live and die at home with dignity and in comfort, and Crescent Tide Cremation Services.