The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 23, 2013

Mary Pearl Willis

—    Mary Pearl Willis, age 72, of St. Peter, MN, and formerly of Dubuque, passed away at 8:10 a.m. on Thursday, November 21, 2013, surrounded by loving family and friends.  Funeral services will be at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, November 26, 2013, at Holy Spirit Parish, Sacred Heart Church, 2215 Windsor Ave., with Very Rev. Dwayne J. Thoman officiating.  To celebrate Pearl's life friends may visit from 9:00 a.m. until the time of services at 10:00 a.m. at Holy Spirit Parish, Sacred Heart Church, 2215 Windsor Ave.  Burial will be in Mt. Calvary Cemetery.  Behr Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

    Mary Pearl Cole was born December 13, 1940 to Kenneth L. and Bethel M. (Letts) Cole of Graf, IA.  She was baptized and confirmed at Lattnerville Catholic Church.  Pearl attended one-room country school outside of Graf and graduated from Dubuque Senior High School in 1959.  She graduated from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Iowa City, IA as a registered nurse in 1962. That same year she married Richard Willis at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dubuque, IA.

    Pearl was a dedicated and devoted nurse for almost 40 years, working at both Loretto and Union hospitals in New Ulm before retiring from Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter. She enjoyed gardening, quilting and most of all spending time with her family, friends and cats Sophie and Cassie.  Pearl spent her leisure time watching the resident birds, rabbits and squirrels  in her backyard.

    Pearl is survived by her children Richard Jr. and Joan (Shawn) Stanford, both of New Ulm, MN, grandson Jeremy Reinarts and great-grandson Wyatt Reinarts of Sleepy Eye,MN, granddaughter Amanda Reinarts of Mankato, MN, and long-time good friend Phyl Halvorson of St.Peter, MN.  She is also survived by her siblings Darlene (Emil) Herting of Dubuque, IA, Nancy Peters of Iowa City, IA, Lyle (Pam) Cole of Walcott, IA, and Jeffery (Mary) Cole of Dubuque, IA, along with many nieces and nephews.

    She was preceded in death by her parents, baby sister Melody, and brother-in-law Roland Peters.

    Pearl, along with her family and friends wish to thank the hospice nurses and entire staff of Benedictine Community Center for their tireless hours of excellent care.  Blessed be her memory.

    A Pearl Willis memorial fund has been established.

    Online condolences may be left for the family at

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