Mary (Stapel) Oelke was born in McLeod County Dec. 8, 1894 and entered her eternal home March 2, 1998 at the age of 103.
Mary was the daughter of Gustav and Bertha Stapel and was born into a family of eight children. Her mother died during the childbirth of the ninth child.
At the age of 5, Mary's parents, with two sisters and two brothers, moved to Calgary, Canada. In 1914 her health was causing problems. The Canadian doctors wanted to do exploratory surgery, but her father disagreed and made plans for her to take the train to Rochester, Minn. and go through the Mayo Clinic.
Her health returned and no surgery was needed. She then moved to Lester Prairie to visit her sister and brother-in-law, Lena and Theophile Ochu. Her brother-in-law refused to let her return to Canada saying she deserved a better life.
On Jan. 20, 1916 she was united in marriage to Reinhold Oelke by the Reverend Baumhoefner. They lived a short while in the Oelke homestead while she also kept house for two of her brothers-in-law, William and Herman Oelke. In the same year 1916, they started building their own Reinhold Oelke farm, which in 1992 became ShadowBrooke Golf Course. This union was blessed with four children, Holdrein, Vira (Mrs. Elmer Horrmann), Oral and Gloria. Gloria died in infancy.
She and her husband enjoyed 56 years of joy and blessings. In 1972 her husband met with a tragic death and in 1973 she with her son, Oral, moved into Minneapolis, so they could be close to Vira and family.
Sunday, March 1, 1998 she became ill and was taken to the emergency room at Fairview Southdale Hospital. At 2:10 Monday morning, March 2, God took her hand and took her home with Him.
She leaves to mourn: her son Holdrein of Howard Lake, daughter Vira of Minneapolis, four grandchildren: Karen (Wallace) Bergmann, Gloria (Nylin) Noetzelmann, Carol (Gyles) Randall and Lyle (Carol) Horrmann; six great-grandchildren and three great great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, son Oral, who entered heaven just five weeks before, and daughter Gloria, in infancy.
Funeral services were held at St. Peter Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie, Thursday, March 5. The Reverend Gerald Schwanke officiated the service. Congregational hymns were "Lift High The Cross," "This is My Father's World," and "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee."
She was buried beside her husband, Reinhold, in the church cemetery. Pallbearers were her three granddaughters, two along with their husbands, and her one grandson: Karen and Wallace Bergmann, Carol and Gyles Randall, Gloria and Lyle Horrmann.