Mary Berlinger, age 96, of Chokio, died on June 27, 2018, at Grace Home in Graceville, MN.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, July 9 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chokio. Visitation will be held on Sunday, July 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the church with a prayer service beginning at 7 p.m. Fr. John Paul Knopik will celebrate the mass and interment will be in St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Chokio.
Mary Margaret Rothanburg was born on July 30, 1921, in a farm house at Foley, MN. She was the daughter of John and Mary (Sopkowiak) Rothanburg. Mary attended country school until the eighth grade. At the age of 12, Mary and her family moved to Brainerd, MN, and lived in a home on Lake Edward – north of Brainerd. Her father was a wood craftsman and made many beautiful pieces of furniture, some of which the Berlinger grandchildren and great-grandchildren still have in their homes. They were a farm family. They also had a fishing cottage on their homesite, and rented fishing boats. They entertained many fishermen from the Twin Cities. Many became long-lasting friends.
At the age of 17, Mary moved to St. Paul and worked as a housekeeper for several families in the Summit Avenue area of St. Paul. She had many stories to tell of working for very wealthy families. She always came home each summer to help her folks with the fishermen. Mary also worked a few years for Minnesota Mining. She roomed at Rose Webb’s home in St. Paul. Marie Hagen was a neighborhood friend, and felt that Mary needed to get to know a certain young gentleman from Chokio. She arranged to have Mary meet Steve Berlinger the next time he visited the cities. It was a match made in heaven; they met in June of 1944, and were married on November 25, 1944, at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in St. Paul. Steve and Mary purchased a farm northwest of Chokio. Together, they worked hard to turn that land into a very productive farmland, and Mary turned the old house into a comfortable home. They raised crops, cattle, hogs, chickens, and ducks. They lived on the farm until the fall of 1977, when they built a new home in Chokio.
Mary was an active member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Chokio. She was a member of Christian Women and St. Mary’s Guilds. Mary was a hardworking farmwife, mother of four children, and had a large garden every summer, with vegetables and lots of flowers. She canned many vegetables and fruit, made her own bread, and was known for her rosettes and caramel rolls. Her hobbies included crocheting, sewing clothing, sewing rugs and quilts, embroidering dish towels, making twirlers, and watching polka shows on television. She had several accordions and organs that she self-taught and played “by ear.” She was passionate about finding her ancestry; she connected later in life with many cousins that she never knew growing up.
Preceding her in death was her husband of 45 years, Steve; two great-grandchildren: Isaac Berlinger and Brody Berlinger; parents: John and Mary Rothanburg; and brother, John Rothanburg.
Mary is survived by her four children: John (Mary Lou) Berlinger of Chokio, MN; Mike (Donna) Berlinger of Chokio, MN; Rose (Norm) Freske of Otisco, MN; and Mary (Roger) Hill of Chokio, MN; 13 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; (plus two more on the way); sister-in-law, Lorraine (Rothanburg) White; as well as nieces, nephews, and many cousins.