Mary Louise White, 78, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and dear friend to all, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, at home on the farm in Rochester, after a long, heart-breaking period of physical and mental decline inflicted on her by Alzheimer's dementia.
She was born on Dec. 29, 1940, in Pontiac, Mich., to Ralph James Johnston and Marcella (Jones) Johnston. Mary lost her mother at the age of 3, her father at the age of 9 and was raised by her maternal aunt and uncle, Nellie and Roy Schalk in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and later in Rochester. She graduated from Rochester John Marshall High School in 1958. She married Virgil White on Jan. 4, 1959, and they purchased the family farm on April 16, 1959. She was employed at JCPenney from 1979 to 2002. She was an expert marksman and received many trophies of which she was very proud. She was a devoted volunteer at Salvation Army and at the Channel One Food Bank. In 2008, she was recognized as one of the ten who make a difference by KTTC and the United Way for her volunteer service at Channel One.
Mary enjoyed reading, fishing, gardening and watching the birds at her multitude of bird feeders. She was a loyal Green Bay Packers fan, much to her family's sorrow. Her family was blessed to learn many valuable lessons from her. Among them: how to load and shoot a gun in case a skunk wanders in the yard. How to tell the difference between a fox snake and a bull snake and the best way to pick them up. How to tape or butterfly bandage every cut, scrape and wound because you never go to the emergency room unless you are bleeding to death or have a severed limb. She will be fondly remembered for her wind chimes and her giving heart. Her sense of humor and famous rhubarb cake will be deeply missed.
Mary is survived by her husband, Virgil; their children, Daniel, Roxy (Steve) Roadway, Brett, Jennifer and Lynn (Dennis); grandchildren, Nicholas, Brittney (Dave), Brandon, Damien (Katie), Derek (Justine), Tara, Samantha (Mark), Ian and Ryan and great-grandchildren, Nolan, Caden and Brantley. She is also survived by her brother, Terry (Rose) Schalk of San Jose, Calif.; brother-in-law, Alvin (Beverly) White; and sister-in-law, Diane (Don) Bzoskie of St. Paul. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Marcella Johnston, and her guardians, Nellie and Roy Schalk.
A celebration of life to pay tribute to Mary will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14 at the Rochester Eagles Club. To help honor her lifetime passion of gardening, a perennial flower or garden decor may be brought to be dedicated for her memory garden. Cremation arrangements by Macken Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Channel One Food Bank or RCTC Foundation for the RCTC Family Heritage Scholarship.
The family wishes to extend their deep gratitude to Mary's caregivers for their care and compassion: Tristin, Trista, Tara, Samantha, Brittany, Tanesha, Char, Marteena and Cassandra. The family also wishes to thank the amazing team from St. Croix Hospice for their important support roles in Mary's final days. They are all truly unsung heroes.