Marian Louise Qualls was at home and surrounded by family when she peacefully passed away on June 26, 2019. She fought lengthy battles with three different forms of cancer and ultimately her body, not her will, gave up on her. Marian was born on June 30, 1947 in Scotia to Herman and Lucille Schleth. She was the youngest of six Schleth children growing up in the Eel River Valley communities of Loleta and Fortuna. 

Marian grew up on the family dairy on Copenhagen Road in Loleta until the family moved to Fortuna the year she graduated from eighth grade. Marian’s parents owned the Buoy Club and then Herman’s Club (formerly the Whaler’s Inn) in Fields Landing until they retired in 1976. She and her other siblings were a big part of the labor force on the dairy as well as at both clubs.

Upon graduation from Fortuna High School in 1965, Marian moved to Salt Lake City to attend beauty school while living with her sister Ellie. Marian then moved to San Francisco where she worked in a wig shop for a short time before returning to Fortuna. Marian became an established cosmetologist and opened Marian’s Beauty Salon on 11th Street in Fortuna. Throughout the forty-five plus years Marian’s Beauty Salon has been open, she has cherished the friendships made with all of her customers and co-workers. Marian prided herself in decorating the front window of her shop for each and every holiday season from Valentine’s Day through Christmas.

Marian settled down in Ferndale becoming a part of the McCanless family. She was a devoted mother and very involved in Tami and James’ school and sports activities. She also grew close to her first mother-in-law, Donell McCanless and their friendship continued throughout the years. Marian had an unbelievable bond with all three of her sisters. For many, many years, Marian would take her kids on road trips to Utah, Oregon and Manteca every summer to visit her sisters and their families.

In 1997, Marian rekindled an old romance with Terry Qualls. They had been engaged briefly in 1970 before going their separate ways. In 2001, they were married, and Marian had never been happier. She was so excited to add the entire Qualls family to her family. She was especially close to Mayme and Arvil. Marian loved music and enjoyed attending all of Terry’s band gigs and practices.

Marian was overjoyed at the birth of her granddaughter Tatum in 2006. Marian showered her with love and took what seems like a million pictures. After James’ passing, Marian did everything she possibly could to support Dana and Tatum. She was so proud of every one of Tatum’s accomplishments.

Marian was always willing to help those in need. She opened her home many times to family and others who needed a place to stay, a few meals, some encouragement, or a little cash. Marian’s positive disposition and delightful smile were infectious. Despite her ongoing medical issues, Marian always remained optimistic, and upon receiving bad news, she would always tell her doctors she would be getting better because she was going to live to be 100 years old. She displayed unbelievable courage, inspiration, and strength while facing insurmountable adversity.

Marian was preceded in death by her son, James McCanless, her parents Herman and Lucille Schleth, and her brothers Herman Schleth Jr. and Johannes Schleth.

Marian is survived by her devoted husband Terry Qualls, her daughter Tami McCanless (Theresa), granddaughter Tatum McCanless, sisters Ellie Cressall (Lee), Helene Ricketts (Jim), Lucy Moye (Ben), and special daughter-in-law Dana McDonald. Marian enjoyed lifelong friendships with Jeanne Kitchen, Marlys Hoke, and Christine Johnson. Marian had more than sixty nieces and nephews and she loved each and every one, always finding a way to make them feel special. Marian also took special care on holidays to make sure all the children in the family living locally were showered with gifts such as Easter egg hunts and baskets and Christmas stockings. This included the children in the Qualls family who she loved very much.

The family would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Donald Baird, Nurse Beckie McCanless, and FPN Marice Thomas for the many years of great care she received for during her fight with ongoing medical issues.

On July 2, 2019, Marian was laid to rest next to her son James at a private graveside service at the Ferndale Cemetery. Her nephews Bryan Seits, Trevor Seits, Tim Bones, Kyle Perry, Lucas McCanless, and Kenny McCanless served as pall bearers.

A celebration of life will be held on Thursday July 18, 2019 at 2 p.m. at The Barn by Fernbridge (26 Goble Lane, Ferndale). Please dress casually, bring your memories of Marian, and a favorite dessert to share with those in attendance.

In lieu of flowers, please honor Marian’s loving and generous spirit by spreading joy, sharing laughter, and carrying out random acts of kindness.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Marian Qualls’ family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.