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On October 11, 2021, Mary Ann Gunnink entered her heavenly home. She is now, in her words, “at the cross of Calvary”. She is already missed beyond measure but her bravery in her final hours was remarkable.
Mary Ann DeRuyter was born August 31, 1933 to Dick and Lena (Kooistra) DeRuyter on the family farm near Rock Valley, Iowa. When she was in 3rd grade, the family moved to Hills where she continued her education through the 8th grade. Mary spent the next several years as a housekeeper and nanny for area families.
When Mary was in her early 20s, she was set up on a blind date with a man named Peter Gunnink. She liked him so much, she decided to make him her husband. They were married on March 2, 1956 and enjoyed over 60 years of wedded bliss; Mary’s secret to a long marriage was simple: “You have to get along.” Pete and Mary lived on a farm between Chandler and Lake Wilson where they raised 8 children. Her kids remember fondly the childhood she provided them.
Mary’s Christian faith was important to her and she stated often how she felt God carried her through life. She raised her children in the church and they recall dutifully packing into the family station wagon twice every Sunday to attend services. Mary was a member of Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Lake Wilson.
Mary enjoyed visiting with whoever would call or stop by, sending cards for special occasions (she never forgot an event), listening to music (we have no doubt she already asked Elvis to perform Blue Suede Shoes for her in Heaven), celebrating her birthday month (yes, she wanted the whole month!), and making many quilts, hotdishes, and desserts during her active years. Most of all, she loved spending time with family. Mary’s idea of family expanded far and wide, and she had plenty of room in her heart for those she loved as her own, including Dan and Lauret Haupert, Rudy and Lori Gunnink, and many others.
A word used often to describe Mary was ‘unselfish’. While her kids and grandkids would have loved for her to focus on herself, that was just not Mary’s personality. She provided for her children, brought her grandchildren on special birthday trips, made phone calls and visits even if she did not feel well, and was always sure to keep her candy bowl full for visitors and Edgebrook staff members.
In 1984, Pete and Mary moved from the farm to a house in Lake Wilson where Mary hosted many family events over the years. In 2016, they moved to Edgebrook Care Center in Edgerton. Pete preceded Mary in death on August 11, 2016. Mary passed away at Pipestone County Medical Center on October 11, 2021 at the age of 88 years, 1 month, and 11 days. The family would like to sincerely thank the staff at Edgebrook for the compassionate care they gave Mary for the past 5 years. She loved each of you like family.
There are many family and friends left to celebrate Mary’s life. This includes her children Darwin (Linda) of Woodstock, Larry (Bobbi Jo) of Lake Wilson, Audrey (Tom) Ramsbacher of San Antonio, Texas, Linda (Brad) Bauer of Farmington, Tom (Mary) of Lake Benton, Chuck (Darcy) of Ham Lake, Sharon (Tom) Calabrese of Pomfret Center, CT, and daughter-in-law Naomi Garcia of Raymond. Mary has 25 grandchildren: David (Luann); Trevor (Madi), Codi (Alyson), Wade (Nichole), Tanner (Wuan), and Thad (Mallary); Ben (Shannon), Liz (Michael), and Joe Ramsbacher; Nick (Callie) and Andy (Katie) Bauer; Matt (Naomi), Jennifer (Brady) Ashby; Stephanie (Travis) and Nathan; Katie (Cody) Beam and Lizzie and Alex Christianson; Nick, Peter, and Alyson Calabrese; Conor and Camryn Wogan, and Eliza and Michael Gunnink. Mary’s legacy continues with 21 great-grandchildren and 3 more on the way. Her siblings survive her: Gert Van Engen, Mina (Ed) Poppens, and Carol (Richard) Hill; siblings-in-law Arnie (Connie) Gunnink, Etta Mae Gunnink, Frances DeRuyter, Shirley DeRuyter, and Linda DeRuyter Wissink; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Mary was greeted in Heaven by her husband Pete; son Michael; parents; brothers John (Margaret), Gerrit, Sparky, and Rich; sister Nellie (John) Schoonhoven; and siblings-in-law Allen Franken, Dick Van Engen, Richard (Ruth) Gunnink, John (Annie) Gunnink, Jennie (Rick) Bandstra (Gerald) Masselink, and Bert Gunnink.
Visitation will be held at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lake Wilson from 4\:00 – 7:00 on Friday, October 15, 2021, Celebrating and sharing about her life will begin at 7:00. Visitation will continue from 10:30 – 11:15 AM on Saturday, October 16, with the Funeral Service at 11:30 AM at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Interment will be at Hillside Cemetery in Lake Wilson.
To live-stream the Memorial Service for Mary Ann Gunnink, please go to the Facebook page of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lake Wilson. Or click on the link below by the funeral service.