McKenna, Mary Elizabeth (nee John) passed away quietly in the presence of family on August 1, 2020 at the age of 97 1/2 .
Born and raised in Browerville, MN, she studied and practiced teaching at St Cloud State (career 1) before joining the U.S. Cadet Nurses program in World War II and serving in Washington, DC (career 2)
She met her beloved husband Peter J. McKenna Jr ("Pete") when he was a patient on her ward, and when they were married in June 1949, she began her 3rd and 4th careers as wife and mother.
Returning to MInnesota in 1951 the family lived first in Minneapolis and then Richfield, where, in her 5th career, they ran a Catholic gift store called the Marian Shop for 15 years.
Mary returned briefly to nursing before launching her 6th and 7th careers as published author and professional volunteer.
As a writer she got most of her inspiration from the large family that was buzzing all around her. As a volunteer she provided thousands of hours of pastoral care at Abbott Hospital; delivered Meals on Wheels; supported numerous activities at Assumption Church, including writing the definitive history of the parish, which she joined in 1954 and continued to sustain for more than 65 years; and served as a global ambassador for the Friendship Force, a people-to-people program launched by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, that brought her and Pete to a dozen countries throughout the world.
Over her long life she has met Presidents, Kings, Hollywood celebrities -- and even a Pope or two -- but never lost her small town values and senses of humility, compassion, and pure wonder, joy and laughter about all the opportunities God opened to her.
She was passionate about travel and never missed any opportunity to visit a relative or friend anywhere on earth, often (to Pete's utter bewilderment) detouring hundreds of miles to enjoy a single cup of coffee with an otherwise long-lost pal
She is welcomed in heaven by Pete, her sons Jim and Joe, her parents Joe and Elizabeth John, brothers Dick, Harry and Ted, sisters Adeline (West) and Jackie (Brown), and hundreds of relatives and dear friends, the dearest of whom was Lois Andersen, who preceeded her in death by just six weeks.
She is survived by her brother James John; brother-in-law John Brown; sister-in-law Mary John, her children Elizabeth McGraw (Fred); Margaret Herrmann; John (Veronika); Mary Catherine; Peter; Mary Ellen Settergren (Mark) and Paul (Maggie); 19 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren.
Arrangements by Gill Brothers Funeral Home, 9947 Lyndale Ave South. Bloomington, MN Tel: 952-888 -7771.
Visitiation on Sunday August 9, 2020 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at the Funeral Home (All are welcome, but to ensure the health and safety of all participants, there will be controlled access to indoor spaces. Attendees will assemble outdoors, and be ushered in by family group.)
Mass of Christian Burial at the Church of the Assumption, 305 East 77th Street, Richfield, MN. Monday, August 10, 2020 at 11:00am. (Again, for the health of all, strict facemask and social-distancing protocols will be enacted and enforced.)
A special note of thanks to those who helped her navigate the last years of her long life, including the residents and staff at Reallife Co-op and Nine Mile Creek Senior Living, the caregivers from Home Instead (especially Shirley), Fairview Hospice, and Nellie and Mark Settergren, who opened up their home to her as a safe haven and luxury spa where she was pampered day and night by Nellie, Jennifer, and Diana.