Mary Ann Stenzel was born on January 9, 1934 in Albert Lea, MN to Paul J. Perrizo and Nell L. Hansen. She grew up in Winnebago, MN. She had one younger brother, John Paul (born in 1935), who died at age two due to complications of Down’s Syndrome. Mary Ann lost her mother in 1949 due to asthma. Nell’s sister Mary (Aunt May) Slater stepped in to help raise Mary Ann, who was 14 at the time. Aunt May and her husband George (affectionately known as “GG” or Uncle Bob) worked at the Roxy Theater in Winnebago, which was owned and operated by Paul Perrizo.
A bright student, Mary Ann earned a teaching degree at Winona State University, and began her teaching career in Cannon Falls, MN. Mary Ann married Joseph Anthony Stenzel (Joe) on June 9, 1956, after a courtship that began at Bass Lake in Faribault County, MN when Mary Ann saved Joe’s life while lifeguarding as a summer job. The happy couple moved to Mankato to continue their teaching careers and to start a family. Keeping alive their fondness for Bass Lake, the newlyweds built and opened a new recreational resource for the county named “MaryJoe Beach,” complete with a diving board-equipped raft, concession stand, ample parking, and, of course, his and hers outhouses - thanks to the carpentry skills Joe learned from his father. The first of seven biological children was born in October, 1957. Mary Ann eventually added two additional children to her brood: Mary Elizabeth (Missy) Hicks (née Slater, granddaughter of Aunt May) and her husband Andy Hicks - lovingly known as #8 and #9.
Mary Ann and Joe moved to Robbinsdale after two more children were born, when Joe was accepted into medical school. Mary Ann bore and raised four more children (all born in Winnebago) while Joe completed medical school and practiced family medicine. They began a tradition of vacations to the western United States and especially California, where some of Mary Ann’s relatives lived. Pontoon boat excursions on Lake Minnetonka became another family tradition. In time, Mary Ann and Joe purchased a property on Bass Lake, but no beach this time. The first several years were spent transforming an eroded cliff into a boat house, sea wall, dock, and a diving board-equipped raft - this time with a water slide.
Mary Ann’s grandchildren remember her for her zip, the pictures on her refrigerator gallery, her oven packed full of bakery treats, her beautifully curated living and dining rooms, the ways she established multiple points of intimate contact during kisses goodbye, and her waves goodbye from the picture window on departures down Lilac Drive and Highway 100.
Please pause and imagine the number of diaper changes, loads of wash, meals, teacher conferences, swimming / wrestling / football / baseball / gymnastics / dance rehearsals and competitions that Mary Ann lovingly attended to in the 33 years from the birth of her firstborn in 1957 to the high school graduation of her youngest child in 1990. All the time, she never stopped being a teacher.
A Mom to everyone, Mary Ann shared her deep Catholic faith and values throughout her life. A Minnesota Twins fan like her father, she is survived and celebrated by her children: Joe (Catherine), Pete (Kathy), Mary Ellen, Jim (Laurie), Annie, Holly (Christian), and Missy and Andy; her grandchildren (Isaac, Molly, Skylar, Owen, Emily, Andrew, Willow, Becki, Joey, Sam, Avae, Oliver, and Lucia); and her great-grandchildren (James, Aurora, Autumn, Quentin, Ruby, Kyra, and Kyler). Beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, Mary Ann (eternally 29) passed away May 20th in the company of Jim, Annie, Avae, and Holly, and into the loving arms of her husband Joe and son Michael, who preceded her in death.
Visitation Thursday, May 25, from 5-8 PM at Gearty-Delmore Plymouth Chapel, 15800 37th Ave. No. and one hour before the Mass at church. Mass of Christian Burial Friday, May 26, 10 AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 4087 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale. Private interment at Calvary Cemetery in Delavan, MN.
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