Loving, enthusiastic, and kind Michelle “Shelly” Renee Magnus lived her life rich with family and friends. A woman who enthusiastically embraced each moment life gifted her, Shelly’s warm heart and gentle spirit touched, moved and inspired all who were blessed to know her. Shelly created beauty and laughter wherever she was and in so doing was a powerful source of hope and happiness. Treasured by many, Shelly will long be remembered in the hearts and lives of those she loved and served.
It seems fitting that a woman with such enthusiasm for life was born in the middle of one of the most highly charged decades. While The Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement resulted in volatile protests, the inventions of the Super Ball and Skate Board reminded us of the importance of play. Women’s skirts grew shorter while men’s hair grew longer and The Beatles’ “Help” album dominated the airways. With much hope for the future, Philip Howard Cripe and Carolyn Sue (Grimes) Cripe of Goshen, Indiana welcomed their daughter Michelle into their hearts and home on March 31, 1967.
Growing up in North Webster, Indiana with her younger brother, Scott, Shelly enjoyed the comforts of a Midwest 80s childhood. Her teen years centered around cheerleading during middle school at North Webster and through her junior year at Wawasee High and spending time with her core group of girlfriends. As a college student, Shelly had the good fortune of working at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo doing hard labor during the summer months. This hard work not only built a great work ethic for her future, it also helped forge her commitment to her education.
A favorite memory Shelly held dear over the years was the very special Halloween when she and her friends plotted and planned to TP a favorite teacher’s home. Having heard of the girls’ impending prank, their teacher created a plan of his own. Before the girls arrived that evening, he spent a good deal of time making a sizeable leaf pile in which he could easily hide. After generously allowing the girls ample time to artfully fulfill on their prank, he jumped out of the pile screaming and scaring them to death. Of course Shelly still tries making us believe she stayed in the car with her mom and Grandma Grimes while Mandy and friends did all the dirty work!
After graduating from Wawasee High School with the class of 1985, Shelly began her college journey at Indiana University. While at IU Shelly continued to explore the world in the good company of more special friends. Whether taking spring break trips, attending the 1987 NCAA National Basketball Finals, or taking a memorable road trip, Shelly knew how to balance hard work with great adventures.
Shelly and her friend Sandy relished in the memory of two such adventures over the years. They would long tell the tale of their car breaking down just southwest of Indianapolis while on their way home from IU for Christmas break. Shelly’s step dad made the trip from Ft. Wayne to get the girls. When he arrived on the scene, he couldn’t find the girls. After noticing the windows were fogged over he realized the ingenious girls were indeed in the car, keeping warm under an enormous pile of dirty laundry. During a fated summer evening, Shelly and Sandy caught word that Charlie Sheen and Rob Lowe were at the South Shore Country Club on Lake Wawasee. After dolling up in their most attractive outfits and donning high heels, the treasured friends headed out to stalk the two stars. Not to be thwarted in their efforts to be noticed, the girls strutted out to the putting green in their heels to practice putting while scoping out the handsome buddies inside the restaurant. At a later time, they met the stars at a lake-property basketball court where Shelly ended up with a poster of Rob Lowe which she proudly displayed in her college dorm room.
Upon graduating from IU with her Bachelor’s degree in School of Public & Environmental Affairs with a specialty in management in 1989, Shelly immediately began working on two Master's degrees. In 1990 she earned her first Master’s in Instructional Design at Indiana University. She graduated with a second Masters in 1991 in Education at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Soon, Shelly began her career working over the next decade as an HR Trainer at Altschuler-Melvoin-Glasser Bank, Arthur Andersen, and Northern Trust Bank. She also had the great fortune of being a contestant on Wheel of Fortune where she won a camper, a home improvement package, and a trip to Calgary, Canada. Though the home improvement package or a camper didn’t really suit the young career girl who was living in downtown Chicago, she certainly enjoyed the trip to Canada. Shelly and Aunt Mandy made their way to Calgary where Shelly’s brother, Scott, who was stationed in Cheyenne, WY met them. Together the three had a fantastic adventure together.
Having fallen deeply in love, following a first date to a Thai Restaurant and a second date to a pool hall, Shelly joyfully married Daniel Keith Magnus. On October 26, 1996, the happy couple began their 21-year marriage together during a ceremony at St. Mary of the Angels Catholic Church in Chicago, Illinois. Despite the fact that Dan missed a bit of their reception as a result of a missing check for the caterer event center, and all of Shelly’s wedding music that she had selected weeks ahead of time did not arrive with a different DJ, the day was still filled with much love and celebration.
Making their home in Chicago, their family soon grew to include their three beautiful daughters, Natalie, Elise, and Audrey. Once she became a mom, Shelly’s world centered around her girls. Wanting to spend more time with her family, she eagerly left a very lucrative career to pursue a more family-friendly career as a teacher. For the next ten years, Shelly proudly taught at Belding School where, except for one year when she worked in 7th and 8th grade, she worked her magic as a 6th-grade math teacher. Shelly loved the privilege of being in young people’s lives and collaborating with her peers. She quickly became both a trusted and admired peer and a favorite teacher for many. Shelly also enjoyed being an event planner and coordinating fundraisers for Belding School. She enjoyed her roles at school so much she often emceed many school events. A huge blessing to the entire Magnus Family was the “Meal Train” providing food for the past 4 years while Shelly wasn’t always well enough to prepare meals for her family.
As a mother, Shelly could not have been prouder or more supportive. All three girls played softball year round which kept the family on the move and Shelly in the stands. A softball mom through and through, Shelly’s undauntable faith fueled her cheers and inspired much success. One of her proudest moments was when Natalie earned a college scholarship to play softball at Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY. In addition to her time in the stands, Shelly cherished family time at the lake property she and Dan had in Mercer, Wisconsin. Here they enjoyed relaxing and getting away for a few weeks from the constant go of busy work and softball schedules and dreaming about the house they would build on the property after the kids graduated from high school. Shelly loved shopping with her girls and set a high bar for always being well dressed. The girls found it particularly funny when Shelly took them shopping to find her a perfect pair of hip hugger jeans. Through their giggles and eye rolls, they also recognized how cool it was that they could count on their mom’s commitment to being chic.
Shelly’s love for fun and adventure continued throughout her lifetime. She loved sightseeing in Amsterdam and London, taking Columbus Day trips to different locations, white-knuckle road trips to Wilson Lake in the snow, bonfires at the McNally house, hot tub family Christmases, and attending the Chicago Polish Fest with her family and Dan’s side of the family.
An especially important adventure Shelly held dear was her annual Oscars trip with her Lifers, Donna Schmahl, Sandy Apotheker, Julia Lee and Heather Coleman. Early in their lives, the five special friends made a conscious commitment to stay close. One way to assure their commitment was to fly to a new destination resort each year to view the Oscars together, and more importantly, share quality time with one another.
Heart-centered and optimistic, Shelly lived life fully. Even in the face of life’s greatest challenge, cancer, Shelly remained fully centered in a positive attitude and a warrior’s spirit. For five years Shelly took on the discomforts, pain, and disappointments with a firm resolve to find the glimmer of hope, faith, and joy she insisted was always present. She shared her heartbreak over losing her hair with her hair stylist who helped Shelly come up with a perfect plan to pick herself up and turn a tragedy into a triumph. Together they shared a fun day of shaving her hair into a spiky Mohawk they dyed bright red in honor of Shelly’s beloved Indiana University and then later dyed blue. It proved a powerful day of transformation, reminding them both that pain shared is quickly cut in half.
At the end of Shelly’s cancer battle, as she experienced an extraordinary degree of pain, her four lifelong friends learned hospice couldn’t provide a comfortable chair. With great haste and unflinching generosity, they quickly purchased a very overstuffed electric reclining chair in hopes of affording their friend some small comfort in her final days. Shelly spent her final days in the snuggly softness of the chair that held the warmth of her dear friends’ loving embraces.
As Shelly was first diagnosed in October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, she always held the month as sacred in her mind and heart. That she died in this sacred month at 11:06 am, the same time her Grandma Grimes died just a few weeks before, affords her family a firm confirmation of her arrival in Heaven.
Though our time with Shelly feels far too short, may the gifts of her love comfort our hearts. With each young person we mentor, fundraiser we support, quiet time at the lake we enjoy, softball game we cheer on, adventure we take, and kindness we share with another we celebrate Shelly’s beautiful legacy in our own lives. In so doing, we assure her bright spirit continues to shine on in a world that certainly needs more light and love.
Michelle "Shelly" Renee Magnus, 50, of Chicago, Illinois, passed away at 11:06 a.m., Saturday, October 14, 2017 at her home after a 5 year battle of breast cancer. She is survived by her husband of 21 years, Daniel Keith Magnus, of Chicago; daughters, Natalie, Elise and Audrey Magnus, of Chicago; father, Philip Howard Cripe, of Goshen, Ind.; mother, Carolyn Sue (Bob) Emmert, of Branson, Mo.; brother, Scott (Jill) Cripe, of Ft. Collins, Colo.; grandmother, Gladys Cripe, of Goshen, Ind.; mother-in-law, Doris Magnus, Chicago, Ill.; aunt and uncles, Linda Simmons, of Goshen, Ind., Michael Cripe, of Nineveh, Ind., Amanda (Kent) DeKoninck, of Greenwood, Ind. and Randy Grimes, of Columbia City, Ind. She is preceded in death by her paternal grandfather, Howard Cripe, maternal grandparents, Franklin and Laura Virginia Grimes and her father-in-law, Ray Magnus.
Visitation will be 11-1:45 p.m. Saturday, October 21, 2017 at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City, Ind. with her funeral service at 2 p.m. Funeral Celebrant, Sharon Brockhaus will be officiating. There also will be a Celebration of Life Memorial Service at 6 p.m. Sunday, October 22, 2017 with a reception immediately following, both in the Erin Ballroom, Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave., Chicago.