Mary Lou Wangen (77) died on October 30, 2020 at Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, WI where she had been treated for leukemia. Her death was unexpected as the leukemia was in remission.
Mary Lou was born on December 20, 1942 to Herman Bunn and Wyoma (Reitveld) Wrayge. She lived in several cities while growing up including East St. Louis and Minneapolis. She graduated from Bloomington High School in 1960.
She met the love of her life, Roger Wangen, in world history class while attending Mankato State University, Minnesota where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education. After graduation Roger joined the navy and Mary Lou taught second grade in Minneapolis. During spring break she flew to California and they eloped, celebrating their wedding on April 12, 1965 in a small ceremony in the Navy Chapel on Treasure Island in San Francisco, CA, while Roger was on leave.
A few years and three kids later, Mary Lou and Roger moved to Wisconsin Rapids, WI. Even though Mary Lou wondered aloud, “Where are you taking me?” as she and Roger drove along the heavily forested Hwy 54 on their way to their new home; Wisconsin Rapids became a community that she loved and where she spent the rest of her life. In addition to being a wife, mom, and homemaker, she was actively involved in church, school, and community activities. She often joked that she was a professional volunteer. Mary Lou participated in many things including being a Brownie troop leader, Cub Scout den mother, vacation Bible school teacher, driver for Meals on Wheels, preschool teacher, substitute teacher in the Catholic school system, and an active member of American Association of University Women, PEO, garden club, Bible study, quilting groups and book clubs.
Mary Lou enjoyed a good cup of coffee and reading. She enjoyed learning new crafts and being creative. She loved entertaining and working on all the details from flower arrangements and place settings to trying different recipes to find the right one. Most of all she loved sharing what she had and what she knew with others—friends, children, grandchildren, and her community. She was known for her “Tuesday gifts” which usually resulted from someone admiring something she had or had made, and she would immediately gift it to them. Her grandchildren will remember her sharing her time teaching them to cook and sew and creating special weekends including a Pirate Weekend complete with digging for buried treasure on the beach.
First English Lutheran Church was Mary Lou’s church home for over 50 years. It was an important part of her life and many of her close friends, relationships and activities centered around the church. She was immensely proud of the work that she and many other women did to improve the kitchen and of the recipe books that they created to raise money for the church.
Mary Lou will be remembered for many things including her love of jokes, of breaking into song and dance featuring original lyrics created in the moment, her aversion to early mornings or arriving on time, her love of dogs—especially small rescue dogs, her generosity and her efforts to make other people happy. She lived a great life.
She is survived by her husband Roger Wangen; her children Eric Wangen (Tonya), Lisa Frost (Brian), and Jeff Wangen (Dalcimar); her grandchildren Emily, Hannah and Abby Wangen and Steven and Scott Frost; her stepbrother Tom Bunn and her stepmother Edna Bunn.
A service in celebration of Mary Lou Wangen will be held at First English Lutheran Church on Saturday, November 28, 2020 at 1:00 pm. Due to COVID19 the service will be attended in person by immediate family only. The service can be watched at First English Lutheran Church—Wisconsin Rapids facebook.com. The service will be uploaded to YouTube after the service and can be viewed at First English Lutheran Church youtube.com The family is looking forward to a celebration of Mary Lou’s life next spring when family, friends and loved ones can gather safely together. Details will follow at a closer time. Memorial funds will be given to organizations close to Mary Lou’s heart.
Herman-Taylor Funeral Home, Wisconsin Rapids, is honored to be assisting the Wangen family. Online condolences may be expressed at www.taylorfuneralhome.net.
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