The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 20, 2013

Gretchen Agnes Wise Riley

— Gretchen Agnes Wise Riley

    Gretchen Agnes Wise Riley passed away at Seasons Hospice in Rochester on August 17, 2013, 4 days shy of her ninetieth birthday.  

    Mass of Christian burial will be 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 24, 2013 at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.  Visitation will be from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, August 23, 2013 at Northview ~ North Mankato Mortuary, 2060 Commerce Drive, North Mankato and will continue one hour before Mass at church.  A prayer service will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.  Interment in Calvary Cemetery.   Memorials may be given to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Mankato, Mayo Clinic Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, or Seasons Hospice in Rochester, MN.

    Gretchen was born in Deloit, IA on August 21, 1923 to Emma Gretchen Dorothy Wunder Wise and Frank William Wise.  Gretchen and her younger brother, Eugene Francis Wise (Irene Wetter), were raised in Avoca, Iowa.  After high school, Gretchen attended the University of Iowa, then moved to Omaha, NE where she graduated with a business degree from Duchesne College of the Sacred Heart.  In Omaha, she met Henry Edward Riley who was attending the Creighton Dental School and they were married in 1941.  During the war they were stationed in San Diego, CA and Gretchen worked as secretary to the team working on early sonar technology.

    Their first child, Kathleen Marie (Tom McArthur) was born in Omaha in 1944.  After the war, Gretchen and Henry settled in Mankato and established Henry's dental practice.  Five more children -- Nancy Jean, Mary Ellen, Margaret Lynn "Peggy," Thomas George (Corrine Gould), and Daniel Frank (Kristi Koelfgen) -- were all born in Mankato.

    Gretchen had many close friends in her two "newcomers bridge clubs" that played together for nearly 70 years.  She and her husband were founding members of St. Joseph the Worker parish; she was very active at St. John the Baptist parish in the later part of her life.  Gretchen was the first Catholic member of the board of the Mankato YWCA.  Gretchen also attended South Central College where she was Certified as a Nurse's Aide.  For many years, Gretchen worked for Minnesota Valley Action Council as a site manager for the Senior Citizen's Nutrition Program.  Gretchen's mother also moved to Mankato and worked at Mankato Electric.

    Gretchen was preceded in death by her parents, husband and two of her daughters, Kathy and Nancy, and two grandchildren, Heather Marie Oney and Alexander David Johns.  In addition to her living children, Gretchen has ten surviving grandchildren:  Amy Christine McArthur Knutson, Matthew Edward Sullivan, Christopher Thomas McArthur, Patrick Michael Sullivan, Seth Thomas Riley, Benjamin David Johns, Ryan Christopher Oney, Kelsey Lynn Riley, Emma Frances Riley and Nathan Daniel Riley.  She also has eight great grandchildren.

    Gretchen worked very hard all of her life, raising her children and caring for ill family members.  Family was the foundation of her life.