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Mary MacGillis

March 16, 1937 ~ June 27, 2022 (age 85)


Mary Krembs MacGillis entered into eternal life on June 27th, 2022, at the age of 85.  Mary is survived by her dedicated and loving husband of 60 years Alexander Joseph MacGillis, three daughters Margaret MacGillis, Carol Mottram (Allan), and Christine Stauffer (Brian), her grandchildren Ian, Will, Keirynn, Ben, Katherine Mottram, Jack, Genevieve, and Charlotte Stauffer.  Mary is also survived by her sisters Katy Rozanski (Mark) and Pat Morien, sister-in-law Shirley Krembs, and many admiring nieces, nephews and friends.  

Mary is preceded in death by her beloved son Andrew MacGillis (December 2016), her parents Emil and Arthura Krembs, her brothers George and Max Krembs (Jean), her brothers-in-law Jack Morien, John, Jim, and Paul MacGillis, and her sister-in-law Mary Capelli.    

Mary was a devoted wife and mother, a master advisor, problem solver, and a sharer of wisdom.  Her son Andrew would frequently lament to her during the ritual after school snack and Mary would remain his steadfast supporter and confidante during his entire life.

Mary was “Grannie” to her eight adoring grandchildren who always looked forward to her creative gifts each time they gathered. Mary loved to knit them wool hats, sweaters, and skirts, which her grandchildren wore with pride.  Grannie will always be remembered by them for her witty humor, candid remarks, and secret choice words that weren’t allowed to be repeated. 

Mary was born on March 16, 1937 in Merrill, WI.  Mary was a happy and cheerful child who loved animals and playing outdoors. Her family moved to Lake Pesobic where she excelled in water skiing competitions and was proud to be positioned at the top of the water-skiing pyramid formation in the local skiing competition. 

Mary had many friends and was a loyal sister to her 4 siblings and a loving daughter to her mother Arthura and Father Emil. She shared a very close relationship with her sisters Katy and Pat and loved nothing more than long chats on the phone or in person with her dear sisters.  Mary shared a special bond with Katy and was a “second mother” all of Katy’s life.  

Mary graduated from Our Lady of the Holy Cross High School in Merrill, WI in 1955 (an all-girls school run by the Sisters, who also ran the hospital) and earned her RN Nursing degree in May 1958 from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Wausau, WI.

In July of 1958 when Mary was a new graduate nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee, she met her future husband Dr. Alexander MacGillis.  When Alex noticed a pretty blonde nurse in her white stockings and white nursing cap, he felt compelled to talk to her.  He asked Mary to clean a soap dispenser and she replied “You wash it yourself.  I’m the only nurse here and I have 22 patients!”  To make amends, Alex returned the next day to look for her. He saw his chance when he overheard Mary lamenting to her RN colleagues about the broken roof top of her Pontiac Starfire convertible. Alex offered the services of his brother Jim, who owned an insurance business, and finally asked her out on their first date two weeks later.  That first date never occurred, as Alex fell asleep while waiting for Mary to finish her 3-11PM nursing shift at St. Francis. Thankfully, Mary gave him a second chance and two days later they went to Carl’s Supper Club in Bayview where they dined until the restaurant closed for the evening.   

In September of 1961, Mary accepted Alex’s proposal of marriage at the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Milwaukee, WI.  Due to Alex’s surgical training and residency, they would not be together until Mary moved to Rochester NY in May 1962, where she became the Nursing Supervisor of the Student Health Center at the University of Rochester. Mary lived in Helen Wood Hall and maintained her supervisor position for two and a half years while patiently waiting for Alex to complete his residency training.  

On November 3, 1962, Mary Krembs married the love of her life, Alex, at St. Robert Bellermine Catholic Church in Merrill WI in a Solemn High Mass with three priests presiding. In Mary fashion, she and Al would quickly begin a life filled with hosting family and friends in their home on 113th Street in Wauwatosa, where she would prepare an elaborate meal and then toss dinner rolls at guests, telling them if they went home hungry it was their own fault.  Mary was a woman always at the ready for an impromptu gathering, especially when Uncle John showed up unannounced and Mom would feed her kids hot dogs so she could enjoy a good chat and an adult beverage, or visits with her dear friend and neighbor Arline, who would gleefully take the twins for a day when they ran away to her house after Mary scolded them with her teasing words “if you don’t like it here you can go live somewhere else!” 

After her fourth child and only son Andrew was born in 1972, Mary and Alex moved their family to Brookfield WI, where they continued to raise their four adopted children, traveled throughout the US in the cherished family Winnebago, took yearly bike trips to Door County or cross-country ski trips with friends, and yearly ski vacations to Vail, CO, despite the fact that skiing made Mom cry.  

In October 1979, Mary and Alex’s dream to purchase a lake front property became reality and Pewaukee Lake would become their home for the next 43 years, and to this day, where they enjoyed lake life, sailing regattas, water skiing, wildlife sightings, and many memorable family gatherings.  Mary would become the quintessential hostess to newly engaged relatives, throwing bridal showers to be remembered for a lifetime, 4th of July parties on the lake including specialty drinks, food, and fireworks, and beautiful Christmas Eve gatherings with extended family.

Mary was a devoted and active Catholic at St. Anthony on the Lake Catholic Church.  She attended daily Mass and was faithful to the daily recitation of the Rosary, which she never missed during her 60-year marriage.  We all knew not to interrupt Mom during her Rosary, or during any of her sporting events, at which time she was positioned two feet in front of the television cheering for her Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Brewers, or one of her many professional tennis players, both male and female, whom she greatly admired.  

In addition to her steadfast devotion to God and family, Mary will be remembered for her warmth, humor, kindness, ability to make everyone feel welcome and loved, and for her quick wit and endearing charm.  Mary had a way of making each person feel important but not too important, once asking the Dean of the medical school if he was the one who plowed the snow off her driveway. All who encountered Mary were forever imprinted with her unique way of interacting with others and went away feeling better and more loved.  

We, the family of Mary MacGillis extend our sincere gratitude to our sister Margaret MacGillis, who has selflessly cared for our mother in our parents’ home since March 2021.  Without Maggie, our parents would not have been able to remain living in their cherished family home.  

Visitation for Mary MacGillis will be held on Thursday July 7th, 2022 from 5-7PM at the Becker Ritter Funeral Home (14075 W. North Ave, Brookfield, WI). Additional visitation will be on Friday July 8th, 2022 from 9-11:15AM at St. Anthony on the Lake Catholic Church (W280N2101 Prospect Ave Pewaukee, WI) followed by The Mass of Christian Burial celebrated by Fr. Tony Zimmer at 11:30AM. Lunch reception to follow.

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July 7, 2022

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Becker Ritter Funeral Home
14075 W. North Ave
Brookfield, WI 53005

July 8, 2022

9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
St. Anthony on the Lake Catholic Church
W280 N2101 Prospect Ave.
Pewaukee, WI 53072

Mass of Christian Burial
July 8, 2022

11:30 AM
St. Anthony on the Lake Catholic Church
W280 N2101 Prospect Ave.
Pewaukee, WI 53072

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