Risch, Mary Catherine age 73, passed away September 30 2019 in Saint Paul, MN. Visitation (1:30) and funeral mass (2:00) will be held at Lyngblomsten chapel, 1415 Almond Ave., Friday, October 4. Mary was born in Edina Morningside, graduated from St Margaret's H.S. in 1964, attended St Benedict's and earned a degree in elementary education from the University of MN. Mary demonstrated a deep faith in the Catholic Church. She spent her later years caring for her husband Harold and many others throughout the Lyngblomsten community. She could often be found taking residents to the beauty parlor, praying with others or helping in some other way. Mary is preceded in death by her parents Murray and Ellen, step-mothers Edith Risch and Virginia Hoy Risch, brother Stephen, husbands Sanford Ginnis and Harold Engelstad. Mary is survived by her sisters Ann Risch (George Boody) of Mpls., Martha Risch (Thomas Janson) of St Joseph, Monique Risch Meade (Glenn) of Kenwood, CA, Joanna St Claire (Robert Wogrin) of Shoreline, WA, son Sam Ginnis (Bridget), beloved grandchildren Aedan, Finnegan and Genevieve. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Lyngblomsten Foundation at Lyngblomsten.org. Mary's family wishes to extend their deep gratitude to the staff at Lyngblomsten for their many years of compassionate care and the Allina Hospice staff.  


A eulogy from her son, Sam Ginnis

Thank you for being here to celebrate the life of my beloved mother, Mary Risch. My name is Sam Ginnis, and I am the son of Mary. I was her only child, and I feel lucky that she frequently told me how much she loved me.

My mother was born and raised Edina Morningside, MN, and was the oldest of six in a large Catholic family. My mother was deeply impacted by the loss of her mother at a young age, but otherwise had a childhood that any child could wish for; freely roaming the neighborhood to play with the other neighborhood children, reading lots of books, and at times obsessively tracking the MN Twins.

She attended St. Margaret’s, which we know today as Benilde-St. Margaret’s and matriculated to both the College of St. Benedict’s and the University of MN, where she turned her love for reading into a degree in elementary education. 

17 years later, she gave birth to me, her only child. With my mother being 39 at the time and my father 56, some would say they were lucky.  Depending on your stance on how they want to live your life, perhaps they we’re unlucky to be starting a family at that age.  I prefer my mother’s take that I was a Miracle.

Unfortunately, my mother spent a lifetime struggling with mental health issues. These are the kinds of mental health issues that were not recognized or acknowledged during the time that she grew up in.  These are the kinds of mental health issues that doctors still have no real clinical way to diagnose and treat 73 years later.  She spent decades as a trial patient for the medication du jour, hoping that maybe an answer was right around the corner. Despite her struggles with mental health and depression, she is a testament that it’s the simplest things in life that make us happiest.   Our small house was always full of neighborhoods friends, grabbing freeze pops or playing Nintendo to take a break from the hours roaming the neighborhood playing whichever sport was in season.

As an elementary school student and probably all throughout my high school years, I found it completely embarrassing to the lengths that my mother went to tell me how proud she was and how much she loved me.  Today, it’s a foundation with which I raise her Grandchildren: Aedan, Finn, and Genevieve.

Even as she aged and her health declined, her caring nature never diminished.  My mother and I are both so fortunate that her sisters share this same caring nature and took such amazing and compassionate care of her.

When she entered hospice, my mother was lucky enough to have her sisters and caregivers from Lynblomsten who knew her for the last decade. I was astonished, but not really surprised to find that they were filled with stories of my mother helping other residents by delivering newspapers, taking them to beauty parlor visits, and probably her favorite, praying with them. Even in her severe onset of dementia with her health failing her, she could have been found wheeling other residents around and helping to feed those who could no longer feed themselves (and maybe even some that could, but she wanted to be helpful to them too).  

My mother was a devout Catholic throughout her life.  While she lived at Lyngblomsten, she frequently attended Holy Childhood Catholic Church across the street.  Even as her memory started failing, she still remembered to go to church.  The church told us they always knew when she attended, because she would always forget her offering envelope in the pew. 

As hard as it is accepting the fact that she is no longer here, but I know it’s her religious faith that gave her comfort with death. As my six-year-old Aedan wisely said, “Grandma Mary likes to pray, and really really likes Jesus.  I bet she can’t wait to get to heaven"