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An influential integrative wellness center in Minnetonka will close this year, nearly four decades since its founding by the late industry pioneer Ruth Stricker. 

Stricker's family gifted The Marsh to the YMCA of the North following Stricker's death in 2020. 

The nonprofit recently announced plans to shut down the center, citing a significant drop in membership and changing membership behavior amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"While we explored opportunities on how to support the community and operate The Marsh in a financially viable manner, our efforts were deeply affected by these changes," the YMCA shared in a message to members. 

Much of the center's services and operations will be transitioned to the Ridgedale Y and the value realized from the sale of the property will be put towards other wellbeing initiatives, according to the organization. 

"With the decision to move operations at The Marsh to the Ridgedale Y location, Ruth Stricker’s gift will be invested in the Y’s wellbeing initiative helping the Y become an equity-focused community leader in whole-person health and wellbeing, where all are welcome," the YMCA stated. 

Stricker, wife of the late business icon Bruce Dayton, grew up in Windom, Minnesota and graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul. 

She began her career as a fitness instructor and became a groundbreaking entrepreneur in her explorations of the mind-body connection — an endeavor furthered by her own experiences with Lupus. 

"Blending allopathic and alternative disciplines, The Marsh opened with an acupuncturist and a cardiologist working side by side … a blending unheard of 35 years ago," her obituary states

During her career, Stricker helped advance integrative medicine at some of the world's top medical centers, including Duke University and Mayo Clinic. 

Over the decades, the Marsh built a loyal following and became known as a hub for healthy aging. 

The impending closure is rippling through that close-knit community. The beloved restaurant ended operations last month.

"I'm heartbroken," longtime member Peg Meier told the Star Tribune. "I need it. I don't know what we're going to do."

The YMCA is currently working on transitioning Marsh members and staffers to other Y locations. 

"Ruth Stricker’s legacy will be honored and preserved through complementary wellbeing initiatives at and through the Y," the organization shared.  

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