Mary Lou Vellinga went home to be with the Lord on Jan. 22, 2010, at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital after suffering a stroke. She was born on Oct. 29, 1933, in Rock Rapids, Iowa, to Hans and Tille Wilken.
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She attended country school and later graduated from Central Lyon High School in Rock Rapids. Following graduation she attended the University of Iowa, where she received her teaching degree and took up teaching elementary school in Lone Rock, Iowa, for two years.
On Aug. 29, 1954, she married the love of her life, John Vellinga, in Trinity Lutheran Church in Kansas City, Mo. They took up residence in Rock Rapids and built a home on a farm south of town. For the next 27 years they would live there, farming, doing auctions and raising their two children, Cory and Capi.
In 1961, Mary Lou began working for the KIWA radio station. She did a morning broadcast, "Rock Rapids News with Mary Lou Vellinga," out of her home. The show grew in popularity and was, over the years, extended from a brief five-minute forecast to 45 minutes every day. She did the show for 20 years.
In 1981, Mary Lou and John moved to Bozeman to be closer to their two children. Mary Lou worked for Montana State University, and with her husband in the auction business and her daughter, Capi, in the mortgage business, where she earned a President's Award for Excellence.
She was an active member of Shining Mountains Lutheran Church in Bozeman and loved gardening, perch fishing and camping. She especially enjoyed her grandchildren and loved it when the telephone company created an unlimited long-distance calling plan for her evening visits with friends and relatives.
Mary Lou was preceded in death by her husband, John, and daughter, Capi, both in 2009; brother, Vernon "Wilk" Wilken; and sisters, Jo Norris and Donna Horsfall.
She is survived by her sister, Evelyn Halvorson of Rock Rapids, Iowa; son, Cory Vellinga and wife, Pam McCutcheon of Bozeman; grandchildren, Sierra and Connor Vellinga and Kaylee Kountz; and Kaylee's father, Dayle, and brother, Cody.
She is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins, including Connie (Lauren) Runia of Manhattan; Dalyce (Michael) Sellers, Leslie Hysell and Michelle (Thomas) McGuane, all of Bozeman; and Steve (Debbie) Wilken of Three Forks; and by her beloved cat, Blizzard.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 29, at Evangelical Free Church in Bozeman, with Pastor Ken Nelson of Shining Mountains Lutheran Church officiating.
Memorials may be made in her name to the Heart of The Valley Animal Shelter, P.O. Box 11390, Bozeman, MT 59719.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Jan. 24, 2010