*Services for Mary have been postponed until Spring 2022.*
Mary Josephine Gabel went home to be with her Lord & Savior Tuesday evening, December 14, 2021, as she passed peacefully from this world and onto the next. Although her physical body lost its battle to colon cancer and heart disease, her soul is dancing with the angels, and she is finally reunited with loved ones that went before.
Mary was born to Mary (McDonnell) & Paul Groves on January 26, 1936, in Des Moines, Iowa. The eldest of three children, Mary was forever taking care of others. As a teen the family moved to Richland, Washington a planned community where her father worked for the US Government. It was in this place that Mary met and fell in love with Frederick Packer. They were married when she was 19 and spent 17 happy years together raising 5 children before Fred tragically died on November 1, 1972, when her oldest child was just 16. At 36, Mary was now the single mother of 5 children and had to figure out how to care for them without her beloved husband. Her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and Mary started a trucking company. It was through this business that Mary met her second husband, and they were married in San Bernardino, CA in 1977. Mary & Wayne Gabel adopted one child together, Kim, and many years later adopted and raised their granddaughter, Mary Theresa.
A lover of travel, Mary has lived in Iowa, Washington, Indiana, Oregon, California, North Carolina, Illinois, Germany, and Minnesota and visited almost every state in the lower 48. Moving first for Fred’s teaching career and later to help care for her grand and great-grandchildren. She lived on or near many military bases with her Army daughter and then Navy granddaughter.
No stranger to loss, Mary has said her goodbyes to both of her parents, both husbands, two of her 7 children and her younger sister. She is survived by her daughters Joan Block, Sandy Packer, Kim Gabel and Mary Theresa Packer-Gabel, son John Packer; grandchildren Jayson (April) Patten, Kristin (Levi) Ackley, Katie (Tony) Vitela, Michael Packer Jr, Amanda Packer, Roger Robertson, Rebecca (Helio) Cardinal, Tyson (Carmen) Block, Joe (Erin) Packer, Sam Packer, and Rachel Lasserre; 12 great-grandkids and brother Dr. Tom (Jean) Groves.
The one constant in Mary's life, was her devotion to her faith. No matter where Mary lived, she was always sure to find a local Catholic mass. Most recently Mary attended St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Brainerd, MN where she made dear friends that added much joy to her life. Mary also loved knitting, crocheting, sewing, and making unique gifts for the important people in her life. She was never without her crafting bag and could be found passing hours of her time working on scarves, doll house furniture, Pokemon characters, dinosaurs or whatever her grandkids were obsessed with at the time. Always willing to share her skills, she taught anyone that was interested. And although Mary would tell you she wasn't very outgoing, she always made friends wherever she lived. Her family will forever be grateful for the friendships she formed at Edgewood Healthcare - Brainerd.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Brenny Family Funeral Chapel, Baxter.