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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Mary C. Huempfner

Issue Date: March 21, 2019

Our beloved, faithful, and faith-filled wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and dear friend, Mary Catherine Dunlap Huempfner, left our world to be with the Lord on March 9, 2019. 

Mary Catherine was born on July 12, 1931, the second child and first daughter of seven children born to William W. and Mary A. (Gerbyshak) Dunlap of Wausaukee, Wisconsin. Many years ago on St. Patrick's Day, in Wausaukee, she went on a first date with Don Huempfner, a friend of her brother Bill's, and a romance blossomed that led to 68 years of marriage, 11 children, 39 grandchildren, and 31 great-grandchildren. 

Known to most family and friends as Cathy when she was young, she was known as Mary by the time she and her young family moved from Green Bay, Wisconsin, north to Pembine, Wisconsin, where they lived from 1955 to 1989, before moving on to Neenah, Oshkosh, then Fond du Lac, and finally Wautoma, Wisconsin in 2014.

Faith, family, music and meals are some of what highlighted her life. Saying the rosary as a family was part of every week and every car trip, skipping Church was never an option, she made sure her boys served as Altar Boys at St. Margaret's in Pembine, and even as her speech failed her in later years, she usually could join in with parts of prayers. We will have a new saint in Heaven to call on.

She was the rock of the family. Although small in stature, she somehow had a good way of keeping those eight boys in line. She demonstrated unselfish love while raising her 11 children. Mary inspired each of her children to be a first rate version of themselves, not a second rate version of someone else.

One of her deepest heartaches was losing little Lynn Marie, several days after birth. We are sure she is holding her in Heaven now. Rocking a new baby was one of her very favorite things to do. Her love and compassion as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother was renowned and extended to her entire family. Everyone always felt welcomed, accepted and loved by her.

If you were a friend of anyone in the family, you were a friend to her, as well.  She opened their home to any friends of her children visiting in Pembine for meals and playtime (and if they took off socks, shirts, or coats for too long, she washed them before they even knew what happened). Mary and Don provided a home to several other children for various time frames, while they finished school or needed a temporary place to reside.

Music was part of her life from an early age. When young, she had piano lessons from Sister Conrad and clarinet lessons in school. She also played organ at Church in her youth. We all have many, many great memories of her playing for us and also her smiling grandchildren as they sat beside her on the bench, or leading singalongs for whomever was gathered, and she excelled at playing music by ear. 

She also was a wonderful accordion player, which, considering her size, was amazing. Her grandchildren would beg her to pull out the accordion so they could dance around the living room together. She even played her accordion for her daughter's kindergarten class when they were learning the letter A!  Playing music herself or listening to music was always her joy. Even when her health was failing at Heartland House, she was still able to play piano at the beginning of her stay.

Meals at Mary's/Mom's/Grandma's house - that's a legacy in itself. It involved her great cooking talents, her love of gathering friends and family together and her warm and welcoming hospitality.  She cooked wonderful things through the days and into the nights even when they were gobbled up by her family as soon as they left the oven. We venture to guess that anyone that knew her "borrowed" many a recipe from her and found them especially delicious! We will never forget her ability to wrap food and love together in a warm, wonderful experience.

We will dearly miss this Angel on Earth who is going on to be our Angel in Heaven! She has inspired us, challenged us, prayed for us, loved us and given us a very, very high bar to try to live up to. But we let go with the joy in knowing she is in the wonderful arms of our Lord as He says, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Welcome home."

Mary Catherine was preceded in death by her parents, William and Mary Dunlap; her infant daughter, Lynn Marie; grandson, Brian Joseph Kelly and her brother, Bill Dunlap. 

She is survived by her husband of 68 years, Donald M. Huempfner, of Wautoma, WI; her children, Colleen (and David) Kelly of Marshfield, WI, Michael (and Cynthia) Huempfner and Brad (and Kathy) Huempfner of Bozeman, MT, Kim (and Jacky) Huempfner of Twin Falls, ID, Patrick (and Barbara) Huempfner of Peachtree City, GA, John (and Ramona) Huempfner, Tom (and Theressa) Huempfner and Todd (and Amy) Huempfner, of Fond du Lac, Rick (and Christy) Huempfner of Grand Rapids, MI, and Donna (and Steve) Norlin of Wautoma, who cared for her with extraordinary love over these past five years. She is also survived by many siblings and in-laws; grandchildren; great-grandchildren and life-long girlfriends who will all miss her dearly.

We give a special thank you to family, friends, and especially the staff at Heartland House, who gave her such wonderful love and care these past five years. The family is so thankful for all the prayers and memories shared.

Funeral services are arranged through Stahl Funeral Services. In lieu of flowers, donations may be given in her memory to any of the following charities: Fond du Lac Beacon House (166 S. Park Ave. Fond du Lac, WI 54935), Agnesian Hospice Hope Foundation (430 E. Division Street, Fond du Lac, WI 54935), or Children's Hospital of Wisconsin-Fox Valley (130 2nd St. Neenah, WI 54956). A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, April 8, 2019 at 12 noon. A rosary service will start at 10:30 a.m. followed by the visitation from 11:00 a.m. until time of services at Holy Family Church, 271 Fourth St. Way, Fond du Lac. Inurnment will be in the Rienzi Cemetery, Fond du Lac. A meal will follow. To share your condolences or send a message to Mary's family please visit, www.stahlfuneralhome.com


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