Mary Lou Terwilliger

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Mary Lou Terwillige

Mary Lou Terwilliger
April 12, 1939 • November 17, 2016

Mary Lou (Abner) Terwilliger, 77, of Eden Prairie (formerly of Edina) peacefully entered the Kingdom of Heaven  Thursday, November 17, 2016 on a beautiful fall morning right after hearing the scripture;  “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”, her loving family surrounded her.  

There will be a visitation  Monday night at Washburn-McReavy Edina Chapel from 5:00-7:00 p.m.  Mary Lou’s life and faith will be celebrated at the Colonial Church of Edina,  Tuesday, November 22 at 11:00 a.m.   Family will greet guests one hour prior.  A luncheon reception will follow at the church.  

Mary Lou was always filled with joy and smiles and shared that with everyone she met.  Her greatest source of strength came from being a loving wife to Roy for 53 years, an amazing mother, an extraordinary Grandma, a caring sister, a loyal and loving friend and a faithful daughter of God.   

Mary Lou was born  April 12, 1939, in Milbank, South Dakota, the first born to Ray and Lucille Abner.  She grew up in Benson, Minnesota with her three beloved siblings.   She was the Homecoming Queen of Benson High School and a lifelong ardent supporter of all things Benson.  She continued sharing life with her best girlfriends from BHS who are lovingly referred to as “The Golden Girls”.

She met her beloved Roy, on a blind date,  January 13, 1962 while she was living in Minneapolis and working at Pillsbury.  They fell in love and were married  July 13, 1963 at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Benson.  Mary Lou, along with Roy, lovingly raised their three children with moves to South Dakota, Connecticut, Virginia and mainly Edina, Minnesota.  

One of Mary Lou’s biggest joys in life was spending time with her nine grandchildren.  She and Roy took them on trips to Washington DC, Florida, Hawaii, Utah, Mexico…but their favorite place always brought them back to their cabin on Pelican Lake in northern Minnesota.  Hours were shared in the kitchen baking, on the boat, in the lake, on the beach, watching fireworks shows, jumping off of the pontoon and snuggling on the sofa…precious moments and memories that will remain.   She knew her grandchildren, knew their hearts and prayed for them by name daily.  What a gift of legacy.

Mary Lou loved to serve others through baking chocolate chip cookies, banana bread or anything she could come up with to bring a smile to someone’s face.   She served as a Deacon at Colonial Church, volunteered at school and church. Mary Lou was also a successful realtor for 25 years.  She loved to entertain with meals at home, or evenings on the lake at the cabin.  

Mary Lou did many things no one ever knew or saw, just because of her big heart, she often visited widowers in nursing homes, took older friends out to tea, diligently visited her longtime best friend Dottie in her Memory Care facility, always gave the mail carrier and trash collectors Christmas gifts, even the ladies at the post office knew her by name.

As she beautifully and gracefully fought ovarian cancer, she never lost her joy.  She loved with ALL she had.  She trusted in God’s promises of heaven.  She was never alone in her battle.  We are so grateful to the doctors at MN Oncology, Mayo Clinic and are particularly grateful for the amazing staff at NC Little Hospice in Edina and Rachel and others at Fairview Hospice Care.

Mary Lou is preceded in death by a baby lost through miscarriage, her parents, Ray Abner and Lucille Abner Hanson. She is survived by her adoring husband, Roy, her cherished children:  Joseph (Marianne) Dhara, Mike (Cara) Terwilliger, Susan (Scott) Shisler, her nine treasured grandchildren: Ariana Anderson, Veda and Kale Bernstein, Tommy, Drew, Jack, and Max Shisler and Charlie and Alice Terwilliger.  Her dear siblings Donna Chalmers, Sandy (Dean) Bergersen, Mick (Mary Anne) Abner, Marilyn Terwilliger, Don (Carolyn) Terwilliger, nieces, nephews and too many friends to count.

Mary Lou left an indelible mark on everyone she encountered with her faith, love and many times her cookies.  She will be deeply and forever missed.  We have not lost her, we know right where she is and we are thankful for the promise of Heaven.

Memorials may be directed to NC Little Hospice or the Mary Lou Terwilliger college scholarship at Benson High School, Benson, Minnesota.

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