Marlene (Malin) “Tudy” Ekman Nicolazzo, passed away Wednesday, March 8, 2023.
She was the daughter of Henny and Titus Ekman, immigrants from northern Sweden. Painter and illustrator, Marlene (Malin) Ekman, lived and worked from her historic log cabin home in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin. Tudy was born in Evanston, IL; later, her family moved to Door County and took up residence at the "Old Heidelberg," a former roadhouse at the Baileys Harbor and Jacksonport town border. She graduated from Gibraltar High School in Fish Creek. From an early age, both she and her parents knew that she was going to be an artist. Tudy's earliest art education took place at The Clearing with Jens Jensen and with Gerhard Miller in Door County. With the help of scholarship and grant awards, Tudy attended The School of the Chicago Art Institute where she graduated with honors. She became art director with the Schlitz Brewing Company of Milwaukee for five years, and later art director for Ekco Products in the suburbs of Chicago. After her three children graduated and moved, Tudy left her home in Winnetka, IL and returned to her roots. In 1983, she took permanent residence in Baileys Harbor. She continued her drawings and oil paintings and worked as a free-lance illustrator for publications. Her clients included Scott Foresman, World Book/Childcraft, Sterling, Harcourt, and various other publishers. The environment of Door County and her Scandinavian Heritage influenced her work. Behind the scenes, she developed a method for drawing people and animals in unusual and acrobatic positions through extensive studies of horse anatomy. Additionally, watercolor stood as her favorite art medium. She was a master of the pencil and had dozens of sketchbooks detailed with intricate and elaborate designs. If you knew her, chances are you received a letter from her with some of her drawings. When viewed, one could see her style was clean, free, and expressive. Door County residents may be familiar of her fictional "Tumten" series of gnome-like Scandinavian characters featured on posters and illustrations. She continued her canvas painting and taught part time at the Peninsula Art School. Various galleries in Door County have featured her art, including donated works to the Miller Art Museum and the Door County Maritime Museum.
Tudy is survived by her sister, Barbara Shine of Baileys Harbor; her son, Peter Nicolazzo, MD of Tucson, AZ; twin daughters, Anne Jones of San Diego, CA and Karen Hebbe of Princeton, WI, who was of great support and comfort to Tudy in her final years; her grandchildren, Megan, Hue, Axel, Peter, Giovanni, and Gianna.
Tudy will be laid to rest beside her parents, Henny and Titus, during a graveside service at Baileys Harbor Town Cemetery on Saturday, April 1, 2023, at 10:30am. The service is open to those wishing to pay final respects.
Casperson Funeral Home of Sister Bay is assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Tudy may be shared with her family through her tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com.
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