Reger, Mary L. "Billie" Age 98 of Minneapolis, passed away peacefully January 23, 2020 surrounded by her family. Survived by husband of 70 years, Al Reger; daughter, Kathleen Reger; sons, John, Jerry and Kevin (Jennifer) Reger; grandchildren, Kelly, Ryne, Shaylynn, Burke, Mercedes and Shea (Courtney) Reger; great-grandchild, Boom Reger; many nieces and nephews.
Preceded in death by son, James Reger; parents, John and Etta (Kelly) Burke; brothers, Michael and Emmett Burke; sisters, Mary Burke, Ann Brennan, Sally Stiffler and Lois O'Leary.
With a twinkle in her Irish blue eyes, Mary "Billie" Burke left her family's farm in New Hampton, Iowa at age 16 and headed to Chicago where she graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Nursing. (Her father nicknamed her after Billie Burke, a popular movie actress who went on to play Glinda, the Good Witch in the "The Wizard of Oz").
She enlisted in the Navy after World War II broke out and served as a Registered Nurse and Lieutenant, J.G. in the Hawaiian Islands, treating troops gravely injured in South Pacific battles. She met the love of her life on Maui in a love story like one in a Hollywood movie: on an island with 250,000 servicemen and 5 female nurses, she met Navy pilot Al Reger as they left morning Mass during Lent. Their romance blossomed during walks in the sand, jeep rides in the mountains and acrobatic flights in his two-seater plane. After the war, she moved to his hometown of Minneapolis and became Maternity Ward Supervisor at St. Mary's Hospital. They were married in 1949. Billie gave birth to a girl and 4 boys in under 6 years, dedicating her days to their health and happiness, spending countless hours shuttling them to events and being their loudest cheerleader at hundreds of athletic games. As the children went away to college, Billie began a long career as a volunteer: at Benilde-St. Margaret's High School as school nurse; with St. Mary's Hospital Women's Auxiliary; and at the Armed Forces Service Center at MSP airport, brightening the days of men and women in uniform. She led an active and enjoyable life, including crisscrossing the world by jet and cruise ship with Al.
Billie was a sweet lady of deep Catholic faith and a devoted mother and wife. She loved dancing, her children and grandchildren and her morning cup of coffee that Al made. She brought joy to everyone she encountered, whether a famous Minnesota Viking or Twin (she knew their stats) or the guy sitting next to her on the bus. The twinkle in her eye never dimmed, and her sense of humor and fun-loving warmth left anyone she met feeling happier about life, and themselves.
Visitation Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 4:00-8:00pm at Gearty-Delmore Robbinsdale Chapel, 3888 W. Broadway and Wednesday at Church of the Ascension at 10:45am. Mass of Christian Burial on Wednesday, January 29 at 11:30am at Church of the Ascension, 18th and Bryant Ave. No., Minneapolis. Burial service with full military honors at Fort Snelling National Cemetery Thursday, January 30 at 1:45pm. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to Benilde-St. Margaret's High School, Church of the Ascension, De La Salle High School or Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Gearty-Delmore 763-537-4511 gearty-delmore.com