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1928 MaryAnn 2023

MaryAnn Gwiazdon

May 1, 1928 — July 9, 2023

Fridley

MaryAnn Gwiazdon, beloved wife, loving mother, passionate traveler, and proud Chicagoan passed away on Sunday, July 9th in Minneapolis, MN. She was 95 years old. Born on May 1, 1928, in Chicago, Il. MaryAnn saw and felt, from her earliest years, the intense anxiety and fear that the Great Depression brought to so many. And it was the intensity of those years, which brought forth beliefs and values in her that never altered, and remained strong until her death. Namely: her absolute devotion to family, her faith in the Catholic Church, her recognition of the importance of civic engagement, (President Roosevelt was her hero, and from 1949 onward she cast her ballot, typically at 7:00 am, in over fifteen Presidential elections) and lastly her innate frugality and dislike of waste and ostentation.

MaryAnn graduated from the Saint Catherine of Genoa School (1942) and Fenger High School. (1946) After graduation, she was employed in the accounting department of the Bank of Chicago, and later, at International Harvester. But the era in which she was born, combined with her family’s limited financial means, which precluded a college education, all conspired to prevent her from pursuing her ideal career as an agent of the FBI. Always being a private person, and the soul of discretion, (and well before the birth of the internet, and industry of identify theft,) MaryAnn was investing in the latest paper shredding models, and giving her family clear instructions on the shredding of all documents, flyers, prescription bottles (the works) with her name on it. Over the years, and even as she grew older, it was suggested by more than a few, that far from attending a class on elder phone scams, MaryAnn should teach it. A few days before she passed, MaryAnn was interviewed by Danielle Herrick, of the City of Fridley, in relation to a grant that she had received for the painting of her home. But before responding to questions as to how she came to live in Fridley, but like the brilliant agent she would have become, MaryAnn deftly turned the interview around, and had Ms. Herrick confirm the correct spelling of her name, job title, place of residence, and educational background. Upon learning the nature of Ms. Herrick’s work, and that she was studying for a Masters in Public Administration, MaryAnn responded that she would like a job like that, and that she would be good at it. And when it was further revealed that Ms. Herrick had also wished, at one time, to be a FBI agent, before deciding on another path, MaryAnn smiled and began to tell her story.

Always a lover of words, (she was an avid player of the NYT”s Spelling Bee and Wordle games) intrigue and new adventures, in 1948, she met and eventually fell in love with Mike Gwiazdon, and on May 6, 1950 they were married in Chicago. They ultimately made the move to Minneapolis, and their union was joyous and strong, and lasted for over 50 years, until Mike’s passing in 2001. The love of adventure and travel united them, and resulted in many colorful journeys, of which their trip to Poland and Italy in 1979, with their dear friends, Cyrilla and Chester Perkerwicz, was a true highlight. By all reports, and simply stated, they had the time of their life, even managing to attend a mass with Pope John Paul II on Monte Cassino.

In addition to the love and support that she received from her husband, MaryAnn was always grateful for the way in which Mike’s family, his parents, and her five sister-in-laws immediately welcomed and embraced her into their lively family fold. She even found a dancing partner (and MaryAnn loved to dance) in her sister-in-law, Dorothy, because as both lamented, at social gatherings, they had married men who didn’t. The friendships that were formed at the very outset have endured, despite long distances, the passage of time, and the sorrowful loss of loved ones.

Because MaryAnn was very attached to her family and hometown, the move to Minneapolis, was one that she never fully accepted. Despite having lived most of her adult life in the little City of Fridley, she would always ask, when considering the distance of any given place, “How far is it from Chicago?” She loved her native City, and all songs that mentioned it, with Frank Sinatra’s “Chicago” being her particular favorite, always laughing at the line: “They have the time, the time of their life, I saw a man and he danced with his wife!” And she was of course delighted when her Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016. Also in that same year, in December, MaryAnn made a call to her daughter Wendy in New York, and asked a special favor. She wanted her to search out a special thank-you card and going away gift, for a certain individual, namely, President Barack Obama. After a bit of discussion, it was decided that an elegant tie (to match his fine sartorial style) would be just the ticket. And Wendy distinctly and proudly recalls telling the vendor, in the Grand Central Christmas Market, that she was on a mission to find the perfect Presidential tie, which her Mother, a native Chicagoan, and of a certain age, wanted to give to the President. To which his reply was:  “Wow, that’s fantastic!” The tie was selected, wrapped (all under MaryAnn’s supervision and direction) brought to the Columbia Heights post office and  sent off to the White House, with her hand-written note enclosed:  “Dear President Obama: Thank you very much for being my President for the last eight years. I am sending you a gift: A tie that binds, since we are both from Chicago. I hope you like it and it fits. My best to you for the next years ahead. God Bless you and our U.S.A.” My sincere and Best Wishes – MaryAnn Gwiazdon. The caption of the card read: “People like you make the world a better place.”

As she grew older, she never ceased telling her family and friends that if there was any place in the world that they wished to visit, or if there was something that they wanted to try out - to not hesitate in their action and resolve.“Do it! While you can! Go!”  And to the best of her own ability, she heeded her own counsel, and so decided on the morning of her 93rd Birthday to book a helicopter ride over Saint Paul and the St. Croix Valley.

By the end of her life, this beautiful, tall, thin, and keenly intelligent Southside girl, had traveled, sometimes with her beloved family, sometimes solo, to nearly all of the fifty states of America and beyond. (Establishing an unparallel collection of matchbooks and salt and pepper shakers along the way.) From Boston Harbor, where she trailed her long graceful hands in the cold water, whilst trying to touch a whale, to camping in Yellowstone National Park and the pristine Colorado Rocky Mountains, to Louisville, KY (thirty years after attending the Kentucky Derby she would happily recall the kindness that was extended to her and Mike by a group of young Southerners, and the sound of thoroughbreds galloping at full speed) to strolling on the warm beaches of Southern California, she did it her way. From sea to shining sea, and for many years, she shared her kindness, her faith, her class, her strength, and wit. And for those that knew her well, consolation is found in the recognition that the lessons and love that she imparted to them will remain forever in their hearts. She will be dearly missed by all.

She is survived by her daughters: Shirley Walkner, Roxanne Gwiazdon, and Wendy Laurent. Loving grandchildren: Rachael (Rick) Morrison, Scott (Jessica) Walkner, Crystal Mastros (Eric). Great-grandchildren: Natalie, Abrielle, Kaidlynn, and Lily. Best buddy: Otto (her beloved Yorkshire Terrier). She is also survived by her cherished sister-in-laws: Josephine Pink, Vicki Mudgett, Patsy Westaby (Billy) and several adored nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Rose (nee Madon) Wiezycki, brothers Louis Madon and Chester Wiezycki, and husband, Mike Gwiazdon.

MaryAnn Gwiazdon was a member of The Church of the Immaculate Conception, Columbia Heights, MN, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, NY.

Her funeral Mass will be on July 18, 2023 at 11:00 am at The Church of the Immaculate Conception, 4030 Jackson Street, NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55432. With Interment following at: Hillside Cemetery 2600 19th Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

In lieu of flowers, MaryAnn’s family suggests a donation in her memory to Children’s MN Hospital, St. Judes’s Children’s Research Hospital or Second Harvest Heartland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

4030 Jackson St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

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Funeral Service

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

4030 Jackson St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

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Burial

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

12:45 - 1:00 pm (Central time)

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