Mrs. Snookie Passes Away, Her Legacy Lives On

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BEAVERDALE, Iowa -- The co-founder of an iconic ice cream shop in Des Moines has passed away, but the legacy she and her husband created will continue to live on through the business they opened decades ago, "Snookies."

Marilyn Caves died peacefully at her home in Ankeny this past weekend at the age of 70. Her husband, Jim Graves, died last August at the age of 80. The Beaverdale malt shop the couple opened more than 30 years ago has become an iconic institution.

"First time I came and I saw their little machine that goes around, I said alright, my kind of place," said customer Terri Bennett. Bennett and her father Dean Ramus live in Florida, but they have family in the Des Moines area. "Every time we come to Iowa, we had to make two or three stops at Snookies to get a crunch cone," said Bennett.

"It`s a welcoming business in that you have children, you have older people, you have college students and everybody is friendly," said Ramus.

And it's that welcoming, friendly environment that in part made the malt shop so popular, and it's what keeps customers coming back time and time again, including those who used to live in the neighborhood, like Elaine Klinefelter.

“It's kind of our fun summer treat to ourselves, is to come back over here," said Elaine. "We’ve always enjoyed the service we get here and the ice cream’s fantastic."

And that service is a testament to the legacy of the founders, Jim and Marilyn, a.k.a. "Mr. and Mrs. Snookie." The couple opened the quintessential mom and pop shop in 1986, right at the corner of BeaverAave and 41st Street. They don't make ice cream shops like Snookies anymore, and that's part of the charm of the throwback, cash only, classic ice cream shop located at 1810 Beaver Ave. And in an age of corporate franchises and online shopping, Snookies truly is a unique place and a community institution.

"It really is. It is a place that the neighborhood gathers. People meet their friends here. We`ve sat here and watched people who`ve moved away...and they come back when they`re in the area, because it was always such a great memory," said Elaine.

Her husband Patrick, agrees. "Their reputation of the service and how tasty their treats are. I think it just keeps people coming back and enjoying what they serve."

Mr. and Mrs. Snookie operated the shop until their retirement in 2012. At that time their daughter, Brandy Proulx, took over. Proulx says she plans on continuing to run the shop and keep it going strong, and she's grateful for the community's support.