Mary M. McDonnell Petersen
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MARY M. MCDONNELL PETERSEN, 64 ROCKFORD - Mary M. McDonnell Petersen, 64, of Rockford finally won her battle with ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. She died in the comfort of her home, surrounded by her cousins, Mary Arnold and June Bratina, longtime dear friend, Evy Bronowski, special Northern Illinois Hospice friends, Regina Schick and Debbie Roum, and her wonderful caregiver, Byambaa Ragchaa. Born March 1, 1946, in Clinton, Iowa, daughter of Owen J. and Margaret M. Clancy McDonnell. Graduated from Our Lady of Angels Academy in Clinton in 1964 and St. Anthony School of Nursing in 1967. She also received her BA in nursing from the University of Saint Francis in Joliet. Came to Rockford in 1970 and began her nursing career in the office of Dr. Fenoglio and was a member of the Junior League at that time. She then spent the next 32 years as the beloved "Nurse Mary" in Dr. Bernard O'Malley's office. She retired due to her illness, after spending her last year as a triage nurse at OSF Rock Cut Crossing. She was a devout Catholic and lived her faith in her daily life. Mary was a very active member of the Cathedral of St. Peter where she sang in the choir for many years and participated in all aspects of the church. Out of her church participation she became a founding member of the St. Peter's "Wild Women" group that was formed for study and evolved into a life-supporting group of friends. She was also a 24-year charter member of "Investments Unlimited." She was an avid reader, a poet and loved to garden. She was proud of her Scotch-Irish heritage, and her greatest love later in life was being a grandma. Mary was a strong woman who was a breast cancer survivor and made her ALS journey with dignity. Numerous people traveled that journey with her and will never be forgotten. Her family would especially like to thank the Bronowski family, Liz Sprigler, Frank and Julie Buchmann, the staffs at Van Matre Rehabilitation, OSF Home Health, her OSF family, Dr. Lim, Dr. Schoenwald, Dr. Walker and her caregiver, Byambaa. Survivors include her son and daughter-in-law, Anthony (Allison) Petersen of Ft. Knox, Ky.; daughter and son-in-law, Julia (John) Breuer of Munich, Germany; granddaughter, Margaret Rokos of North Carolina and her 4-month-old grandson, Trey Owen Breuer of Munich; brother, Anthony J. (Peggy) McDonnell of Moscow, Idaho; nephew, Anthony J. (Lara) McDonnell of Kalispell, Mont.; niece, Bridgid (John) Knight of Missoula, Mont.; Paula McDonnell; great-nephews, Myles and Malcolm Knight; great-niece, Cecelia Knight; special aunt and godmother, Georgia Caccia; her OSF family; and numerous cousins and special friends. Predeceased by her parents. Memorial Mass to celebrate Mary's life at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, in the Cathedral of St. Peter. Memorial visitation from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, in Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory, Mulford Chapel, 1860 S. Mulford Road, with Prayer service at 7:30 p.m. Visitation also from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Saturday at the church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Northern Illinois Hospice & Grief Center, 4215 Newburg Road, Rockford, IL 61108 or Les Turner ALS Foundation, 5550 W. Touhy Ave., Ste. 302, Skokie, IL 60077. Express condolences and share memories at

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Published in Rockford Register Star from Feb. 16 to Feb. 17, 2011.
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15 entries
February 24, 2011
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends. ~Waterside Benefits~
Pamela Vogel
February 22, 2011
To Mary's family: My husband and I want to extend our deepest sympathy, thoughts and prayers to you. Mary was our nurse for many years and was so supportive during prolonged illnesses. We loved her dearly.
Al and Linda Saporiti
February 19, 2011
Toni and Julie -- Pat, Mary Lou and I are greatly saddened by Mary's death. As a woman of similar vintage, I can say that Mary's life and death left me inspired. She was lovely, truthful, talented, and able to make connections and network without effort. It was her gift to share her joy and insight, and she encouraged me in my poetry. She will be a delight to remember.

Jean Kagan
Jean Kagan
February 17, 2011
To Anthony and Julia and family,

I was blessed to work with Mary the last yr as a nurse and she taught me a great many things,but mostly I will remember her for the love she had for everyone, no matter what or who you are. So here's to you Mary Margaret for doing it your way and winning.
Thankyou for being my friend.

and Bloody Hell, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Denise Van Vleck
February 17, 2011
Jennifer Tobin
February 17, 2011
aawwwhhh Our family loved nurse Mary from Dr. O'Malley's office so much. She always made me and my sons feel so loved and at ease. I want to take this time to express to the family what a wonderful person she was and that she will be greatly missed..xoxox Denise, Jordan and Austin Guzzardo
Denise Guzzardo
February 16, 2011
Tony and Julia: I was so very grateful to know the grand woman that was your mother. My prayers are with you in your time of loss. I can't help but think Mary is straightening things up in heaven now.
With condolences,
Raymond Kearney
February 16, 2011
Dear Family, Mary was an incredible blessing as "My Nurse" for many years. I miss her dearly, I love to hear her voice on OFS' waiting messages. Her family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers.
Rita Ruggles
February 16, 2011
Julie and Tony: Although Brenda did not get to know you well, Mary was a cherished part of our lives. She made all the decorations for our wedding in 2009 which were more beautiful than anything that could be bought. We also remember the dinners we had with her at Frank and Julie Buchmann's. She fought the good fight and now is enjoying the fruits of her labor. She was one special lady who will be greatly missed. Our love and prayers are with you and all your family.
Brenda and John Gustafson-Buchmann
February 16, 2011
Julie and Tony, you are all in my thoughts and prayers.
TO MY FAVORITE IRISH LADY!!! God saw you getting tiredand a cure was not to be.So He put His arms around you and whispered “come to me.” With tearful eyes we watched you, and saw you pass away. Although we loved you dearly, we could not make you stay. A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best. I'm already missing you Mary.
Erin Zellmer
February 16, 2011
February 16, 2011
What a wonderful legacy you have. Mary brought joy to so many. She was already an angel while with us.

Catherine Shriver, Rockford
February 16, 2011
To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say...
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight.
Remember that I'm with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, "I welcome you."

It's good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you're part of my plan.
There's so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day's chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o'er.
I'm closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like it for you too...
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who's in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night......"My day was not in vain."
And now I am contented....that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you're walking down the street, and you've got me on your mind;
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it's time for you to go.... from that body to be free,
remember you're not're coming here to me.

Ruth Ann Mahaffey (author)
©Copyright 1998
John & Dee Baxter
February 16, 2011
Anthony and Julia, our thoughts and prayers are with you. She always had a smile on her face and was a true friend.

Deacon Randy and Carol Fast
Randy Fast
February 16, 2011
Anthony and Julia, Long ago your mom used to babysit myself, and my brothers, and later Anthony I had the pleasure of babysitting you. I am so sorry for your loss, but greatful for the victory your Mother had. She is a great lady and thoughts of her bring a smile to my face. May God comfort you at this time and bring you peace in the knowledge that she is resting with Jesus now.

Anne-Marie Jaeger Demos
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