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Mary Jane Paulston

1928 – 2021

Mary Jane Paulston (Sutton) left this world peacefully to go home to Jesus on August 26th, 2021.

Mary Jane was born at home in Straight River Township in 1928. She grew up on a farm where she and her two sisters helped with chores that included milking cows, feeding the hogs and sheep, and gathering eggs. She helped with their large vegetable garden, resulting in the harvesting and the canning of fruits and vegetables. She learned to cook on a wood burning stove and oven. Since they did not have running water, they hauled their water from an outside pump. Illumination consisted of kerosene lamps.

Mary Jane walked three quarters of a mile to attend a country school – a large room where one teacher educated children from first through eighth grade. For her freshman year, Mary Jane transferred to Menahga High School. After graduation, she received a one year training certificate which enabled her to teach in a country school west of Menahga. Following this, she attended Bemidji State University, earning a bachelor’s degree and teaching elementary school in Menahga.

While Mary Jane clearly shone in her roles of wife and mother, her natural humility obscured her fierce resolve and intelligence. These traits earned her a Master’s degree in Media Management from Bemidji State while working full time and raising her family. After this, she became the Elementary Media Center Librarian, and converted the manual card system to an automated system. Through her decades of teaching, first as an elementary teacher, and later as a librarian, she touched the lives of many children. Abundant hand-drawn cards cite her as a favorite teacher.

Mary Jane – sometimes called Janie, made everyone feel welcome at her house. Anyone walking through her door would immediately be offered a cup of coffee, joined with a sweet home-baked treat, while she seated them at the kitchen table. No one left without being offered “seconds!”

Mary Jane greeted the sunrise while poring peacefully over her daily prayer and meditation. She was a woman of tremendous devotion, a quality she demonstrated through her immeasurable love for her husband, children, and grandchildren, her lifelong Catholic faith, and her dedication to her community. She was a member of Phi Delta Kappa and the Menahga Education Association, a charter member of Christian Women, a lector, and a Eucharistic minister and a member of the first congregation of Assumption of Our Lady Church in Menahga.
Janie was a rare gem – she was an exceptionally kind, loving woman utterly devoted to family and faith. She built a long, rich life overlooking the South Twin Lake near Menahga. She married Marlin Paulston on July 4th, 1951, and for more than fifty years they celebrated their anniversaries with fireworks. Together they nurtured four children, many beloved dogs, and a multigenerational legacy of unfailing love which will forever live on in their family.

Janie is preceded in death by her husband, Marlin; daughter, Kathleen; sister, Kay; brother, Duane; and her parents. She is survived by her sister, Pat; children Shirley (Mike), Marlin, Jr., and Mary (Dana); seven granddaughters, and four great-grandchildren. She will be remembered as a force of love, wisdom, and selflessness.

The family would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to the Bickford of Ames staff for their unconditional love and attentive care given to Mary Jane over the past seven years. They were like a second family at her “home away from home.”

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be may be made to either the Menahga School Media Center, or Assumption of Our Lady Catholic Church (Menahga), or St. Cecilia Catholic Church (Ames).

Funeral services will be October 9th at Assumption of Our Lady Catholic Church in Menahga at 11 a.m. with visitation one hour prior.

Arrangements were entrusted to Jones Pearson Funeral Home of Park Rapids. Online condolences may be left at

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