Cover photo for Mary Ann Wilkowske's Obituary
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1943 Mary 2023

Mary Ann Wilkowske

March 21, 1943 — February 15, 2023



The funeral will be livestreamed at:


Mary Ann Norman Wilkowske, age 79, of Willmar, passed away February 15, 2023, surrounded by family. Mass of Christian Burial is Monday, February 20, 11 a.m. at the Church of St. Mary with interment in the church cemetery. Visitation is Sunday, February 19, 2-4 p.m. at Peterson Brothers Funeral Home and at the church one hour prior to the service.  In lieu of flowers, donations are encouraged to the Barn Theatre. 


Mary was born March 21, 1943, in Willmar, Minnesota, the daughter of Lester and Dorothy (Kelly) Norman. She grew up in Willmar, graduated from Willmar High School in 1961, and attended St. Cloud State University earning a bachelor’s degree in Education. 


Mary began her teaching career in White Bear Lake and met her husband, Doug. They were married July 25, 1970. In 1974, they moved to Willmar. Mary substitute taught and later became a Title 1 Teacher, tutor in area group homes and a teacher of English Language Learners all while raising two accomplished sons. After retiring from teaching in 1999, she became a successful sales representative for Jostens.  


Mary loved life and fought hard to live it. After surviving cancer in 2004, she lived to meet and love each of her four grandchildren. Each of them enjoyed a special relationship with their Grammie and shared hundreds (maybe thousands) of bedtime stories and special moments (and secrets). This is a great blessing. 


Mary treasured every moment with her family. She kept the family in green for St. Patrick’s Day and went (only slightly?) overboard each Christmas. We have Santa Bears to prove it. She loved playing games (even LIFE), watching movies, looking through EVERY piece of school work and hearing every last detail of the recent happenings – choir concerts, sporting events, work trips – you get the idea.


She invested in her community as a Barn Theatre board member (and presence on the stage), and as a member of the Willmar Arts Council and the Church of St. Mary. Her work with English Language Learners created lasting friendships and broad understanding and commitment to human potential, especially EVERY child’s potential to learn and succeed.


She reveled in time with her friends (Cheers!). Her friends spanned generations, backgrounds, and walks of life. Whether shopping or lunching, sipping a G&T (in a tall glass) or just catching up over the phone, they kept her going and stood by her – always.   


She enjoyed music, art, theater and a good laugh. She was witty, sharp and opinionated and had a great sense of style. She knew how to have fun AND make a difference. She was a gift to all who knew her. 


She is survived by husband, Doug; sons, Chris (and Hannah) Wilkowske of Moab, Utah, and Andy Wilkowske (and Erika Taibl) of St. Paul; grandchildren, Magdalena, Ingeborg, Annika and Jack; one sister, Patty Radabaugh of Willmar, and many relatives and friends who already miss her.


She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings, David Norman and Barbie Norman Colburn. 



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Mary Wilkowske Program.pdf


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