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Mary Babler 01/01/2024

Mary Babler hugged you whether you wanted a hug or not. After her embrace, you realized you had no idea how much you needed it. She died on Monday, January 1, 2024 in Rochester, MN.
Mary was born in Marshal, MN on September 8, 1957. Before the age of 8, Mary and her family lived in Tennessee, Texas, New Mexico, back to Minnesota, then finally settled in River Falls, WI, where she remained, except for a couple of years in Wilmar, MN when she attended community college. Faith was incredibly important to Mary. She attended the United Methodist Church of River Falls when she moved to River Falls as a child, being welcomed by then Pastor Henry Dreistadt and Organist Barb Wall, who she maintained a close relationship with her entire life. Growing up, she participated in cheerleading, and GAA (Girls Athletic Association). In fact, she was the head cheerleader (mentioned to her dismay).
Mary started working at an incredibly early age, making beds at the local motel. She went on to waitress, amongst other jobs. She met Mark Babler at the Lamp Light Disco Tech where she worked, and he frequented. After dating for about a year, they got married June 23, 1979, in River Falls, WI at the United Methodist Church. They were happily married for 44 years. They had 2 children, Matthew and Emily, and 5 beautiful grandchildren, who she deeply cherished. Mary was the glue that held every family gathering together. Her laughter, genuine care and compassion for each person in her life is something that will be cherished and remembered.
Mary worked for the River Falls School District for over 25 years, mostly as the Head Cook at Rocky Branch Elementary School. She is remembered by students, teachers and staff as feeding the body and the soul. She never forgot anybody’s birthday, made everyone feel special and needed, and stood up for the underdog. Shortly after retiring from RFSD, Mary began working at Menards as a morning stocker, where she met some amazing friends. She absolutely loved her job and the people with whom she worked. Although she never wanted to tell us, she was Team Member of the Month more often than not.
If you met Mary, you became a part of her family. She has left a positive impact on every person she has touched. Her kindness, laughter, authenticity, and strength will live on through all of us. The world is such a better place having had Mary Babler in it. She infused this world with love. She taught us all to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. This is something she lived each day up until her last breath on January 1, 2024. With family by her side, comfort was given to Mary after her 14 month battle with lung cancer.
Mary is survived by her husband of 44 years, Mark Babler; son, Matt Babler; daughter, Emily Keating (David Keating); brothers, Mark Aldous (Jacki Aldous) and Cleve Aldous (Georgeanne Aldous); and grandchildren, Elijah Babler, Everett Babler, Olivia Babler, Ruthie Keating and Anna Keating. She is also survived by countless other family and friends. Mary is preceded in death by her mother, Ruth Aldous and father, Charles Aldous. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the family of Mary Babler for donations that will be designated to the American Cancer Association, The Free Clinic of Pierce and St. Croix County, and Mary’s beloved Grandchildren.
A Memorial Service was held on Saturday, January 13, 2024 at 11:00AM at Spirit of Grace Church (127 South 2nd Street) in River Falls with the visitation starting at 9:00AM. The service was streamed live via a link below the obituary. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the family for future donation. Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.

Click here to watch the livestream of Mary’s service.



  • Aleisha Colbeth Posted January 3, 2024 3:18 pm

    we love you Mary I miss you very much
    you’re sweet looking girl

  • Ron and Jeanette Gutting Posted January 3, 2024 3:56 pm

    So sorry for your loss . Mary was a special person . Will forever cherish her kind loving gentleness she gave so freely .she will be greatly missed

  • Fred & Yvonne Benson Posted January 3, 2024 4:17 pm

    Dear Mark & Family,
    Our hearts go out to each and everyone of you. Mary was a saint and she touched many peoples lives. She will be deeply missed. Sending all of you our love, hugs and prayers! May God wrap his arms around you and give you strength to face these hard and sad times. God bless you all. Much love. Fred & Yvonne.

  • Eileen Eggen Posted January 3, 2024 5:04 pm

    What a warm and caring person, Mary was. Heaven has a true angel.

  • Dave & Julie Reis Posted January 3, 2024 5:16 pm

    Mark and Family, we are so sorry for your loss. Our prayers are with Mary and your entire Family. Dave & Julie 🙏🙏

  • LuAnn Johnson Posted January 3, 2024 5:27 pm

    Such a huge loss!! Mary was so sweet and kind! Prayers to Mark and her whole family

  • Kristin, Chris, Sydney, and Jonah Thompson Posted January 3, 2024 5:30 pm

    Mary was truly beloved by our family and faith community. We are blessed to have known her and grieve this deep loss. Our love to your beautiful family.

  • Mary Jane Pollock Posted January 3, 2024 5:42 pm

    I remember Mary in her younger years, in school. Always fun to be around and a heart of gold. She will be missed by many I’m sure. Prayers for her family. Rest in peace Mary.♥️🙏

  • Peter solum Posted January 3, 2024 6:05 pm

    Mary was such à sweet lady I will miss her rest in peace

  • Harriet Enloe Posted January 3, 2024 6:06 pm

    I am sorry for your loss.

  • Nickolas Raehsler Posted January 3, 2024 6:30 pm

    Mary has forever been a memory of mine from grade school. She made a huge impact on so many kids’ lives at Rocky Branch – me being one of them! I am smiling while writing this as she ran a tight ship in the lunchroom a memory that makes me smile as I was a wild kid.. Bless her heart as she cared deeply for all the kids and was a great mentor during my time at Rocky Branch. Prayers to the family!

  • Nickolas Raehsler Posted January 3, 2024 6:30 pm

    Mary has forever been a memory of mine from grade school. She made a huge impact on so many kids’ lives at Rocky Branch – me being one of them! I am smiling while writing this as she ran a tight ship in the lunchroom a memory that makes me smile as I was a wild kid.. Bless her heart as she cared deeply for all the kids at Rocky Branch. Prayers to the family!

  • Bryan Relander Posted January 3, 2024 6:39 pm

    Rest in Peace Mary.

  • Karen Rodewald Posted January 3, 2024 6:40 pm

    Jeff and I are saddened to hear of Mary’s death. She was big hearted and loved deeply. Sending you all our love and sympathies

  • Anna Paulsen Posted January 3, 2024 6:44 pm

    Mary was one of the most beautiful that ever came into my life. She will forever hold a special place in my heart.

  • Marcy Mueller Posted January 3, 2024 6:46 pm

    I will miss Mary’s happy-go-lucky personality at Menards. The world has lost one special lady. Rest in peace, Mary.

  • Jill Sutter Posted January 3, 2024 6:50 pm

    So very sorry for the loss of Mary🙏Praying for you all

  • Susan DeSanctis Posted January 3, 2024 7:07 pm

    We are so sorry to hear of Mary’s passing. She was one of the most caring, giving, and loving ladies I have ever met. She meant so much to so many and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you all.
    The DeSanctis family

  • Patrick Magee Posted January 3, 2024 7:20 pm

    Remembering her smiling face during coffee shop days when Emily worked there. Our thought & prayers are with you. God Bless!

  • Carole Mottaz Posted January 3, 2024 7:24 pm

    I am so, so sad to lose someone as special as Mary. She was always kind, considerate and loving. Now she is with the angels who will take good care of her. My heart goes out to you Mark, Emily and Matt.

  • Sarah Erler McNamara Posted January 3, 2024 7:38 pm

    Mary was always the sweetest! She was such a joy throughout my time at River Falls. She will be missed so much by the community. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Babler family. May you find peace and comfort.

  • Mary Robinson Posted January 3, 2024 7:44 pm

    Wishing you comfort and peace during this difficult time. My condolences to the family

  • Gary l widgren Posted January 3, 2024 8:24 pm

    So sorry to hear about Mary passing away.she was always so full of life very polite and just a very good person.May God bless you all at this time of grief. Stay strong

  • Jaclyn Cardin Posted January 3, 2024 8:38 pm

    Mary was such a warm and kindhearted lady. Emily and family – my heart goes out to you all. May the warmth of your memories help comfort you during this time.

  • The Webb Family Posted January 3, 2024 8:41 pm

    Our children. , who attended Rocky Branch, loved Mrs. Babler. She made a difference for a lot of kids going through her lunch line. She always welcomed them to church with her warm energy. We were thankful for her warmth. She will be remembered fondly.

  • Judy Crowley Posted January 3, 2024 9:15 pm

    Mary was such a special person who was so loved and will be missed.

  • Dan and Jodie Rubenzer Posted January 3, 2024 9:30 pm

    I will forever hear Mary’s wonderful laugh. Living across the street from Mary’s brother and sister-in-law left us in ear shot of some very lively conversations which took place quite often in Cleve and Georgeanne’s garage. Marys zest for life and her genuine love for everyone and her sometimes very colorful language will be what I remember most. Peace my Friend. May the angels lead you into paradise. .

  • Halling Patsy Posted January 3, 2024 9:44 pm

    Always a smile, always a hug and so full of energy. It was my pleasure knowing you. You will be missed.

  • Emily Posted January 3, 2024 10:21 pm

    The kindest person with an amazing memory of students who passed through her life. River Falls won’t feel the same without her ❤️.

  • Kathy Cudd Posted January 4, 2024 5:53 am

    My family is very saddened by Mary’s passing. She was such a sweet lady. Enjoyed seeing her everyday when I worked at Rocky Branch. Prayers and sympathy to her family ❤️

  • Romaine Hanson Posted January 4, 2024 6:09 am

    My sincerest condolences to the family. Mary, your kind and caring spirit lives on. Rest peacefully.

  • Deb Timmerman Hupbert Posted January 4, 2024 9:09 am

    Mary brought sunshine wherever she went

  • Ruth Lee Posted January 4, 2024 9:24 am

    Mary was very special to all people who knew her. Now she is at peace with her Lord and looking out for all of us especially her dedicated family. May you find comfort and peace with all the special memories you have.

  • Gary & Virginia Van Posted January 4, 2024 9:53 am

    We are at a lost for words. Mary will never be forgotten. We are both broken hearted..prayers to the whole family..

  • Virginia,Gary Van Posted January 4, 2024 10:03 am

    We are at a lost for words. Mary was a very special person. Not to many like her. Simply the Best.

  • Sandra Johnston Posted January 4, 2024 10:23 am

    Mary was always a delight. Always so caring and thoughtful of others. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to know
    Mary. Remember her beautiful smile. My deepest sympathy to Mary’s family.

  • Marilyn Jones Posted January 4, 2024 4:07 pm

    So sorry for your loss!! Mary was such a wonderful person!!

  • Rosie Reis Posted January 4, 2024 4:08 pm

    So sorry to hear of Mary passing. She was a beautiful, caring and loving person. She will be missed by everyone in her life.
    God bless Mark and the family.

  • Stephanie Langhoff Posted January 4, 2024 4:14 pm

    I am sorry for your families loss. Mary’s smile and outgoing personality is going to be missed by so many. Prayers to your family. ❤️

  • Rosie Reis Posted January 4, 2024 4:16 pm

    Sorry to hear of Mary passing. She was a beautiful, loving, and caring person. She will be missed by everyone in her life.
    God bless Mark and the family 🙏🙏🙏

  • Laurie Moyer Posted January 4, 2024 5:33 pm

    Mary was a kind hearted person. She had a ready smile and a helping hand. My heart aches for Mark, Matt, Emily and all those who loved her dearly. We will remember her. Rest in peace.

  • Tom and Laurie Magee Posted January 4, 2024 6:06 pm

    Dear Babler family, our hearts and prayers go out to you all. Mary was a wonderful woman who will be missed by all that knew her! She can rest in peace knowing that the world is a better place because she lived. Her memories will live on in all of you!

  • Lucas Gulbranson Posted January 4, 2024 7:17 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful women!!! I will always remember being over at Matt’s or being around her at school!!! She was always so sweet and great to us! My prayers and thoughts are with the Babler family.

  • Barb Nelson Posted January 4, 2024 10:49 pm

    Dear Babler Family, we are so very, very sorry for your loss. Mary was one of the best we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Her kindness and caring was like no other. Praying for all of you. God bless. Barb and Steve Nelson

  • Brent Greene & Mary Williams-Greene, Ben & Carlye Posted January 5, 2024 7:51 am

    Dear Mark and the entire Babler family,

    Please accept our deepest condolences! Mary was truly a gift to the world, a joyful presence always radiating brightness and cheerfulness. Her kindness and warm smiles were a constant source of comfort; they were infectious, making everyone feel better and happier, making everything around her seem right and good.

    May you find solace and joy in the loving impact she had on the world. She made the world a better place.

    May the hole in your hearts gradually fill only with the many, many wonderful memories of Mary.

    Please know that our thoughts and love are with you. We wish you strength, comfort, and the support of fond remembrances as you celebrate Mary’s remarkable life.

    With our deepest heartfelt sympathy,

    Brent, Mary, Ben & Carlye

  • Scott Gavin Posted January 5, 2024 8:38 am

    Mark, Matt & Emily, I am so sorry for your loss. Mary was a wonderful person and will be dearly missed!

  • David Schneider Posted January 5, 2024 8:45 am

    What a special woman! I got to know her when I was delivering groceries to her mother. She was always positive and interested in what you were up to. River Falls and the world lost a very special person.

  • Ed and Sandy Schramm Posted January 5, 2024 10:19 am

    Emily and family,
    So sorry to hear of your loss. Your mother always brought a bright ray of sunshine to Rocky Branch. Every time I saw her, she was smiling and bubbling with positive comments, so friendly, kind and caring. She will be greatly missed. Our prayers to you, Emily, and your family that God will give you strength now and, in the days, ahead.
    Blessings to you,
    Ed & Sandy Schramm

  • Aleisha Colbeth Posted January 5, 2024 7:58 pm

    we love the family

  • Ben Greene Posted January 6, 2024 8:35 am

    With much sadness, I learned of Mary’s passing. It’s been many years now, but the warmth of her care and love for others shines bright and vivid in my memory. She made a difference and left an enduring mark on so many lives, including mine. Mary’s spirit lives on through the love she shared and all of the lives she touched. Thank you Mary and thank you Babler family – I’m wishing you all strength and peace.

  • Ashley Semaza (Colbeth) Posted January 6, 2024 6:55 pm

    Having Mary as one of the lunch ladies in elementary school made lunch that much more enjoyable. Mary was always happy to assist us kids when serving us our lunch she did it with a smile that would light up the room. May Mary be in the gates of heaven looking down at all of those who were fortunate to know her and her family. To Mark and the rest of the Babler family, may God guide you through the seasons that are ahead, and may you feel the presence of Mary be there with you as you carry on with your daily lives. Sending hugs your way!!

  • Sarah Smits Posted January 6, 2024 9:14 pm

    I just can’t believe that this bright light is gone from our world. Mary always recognized kids AND parents. She made everyone feel special. I’m so sorry for her family’s loss.

  • Cindy Zappa Posted January 6, 2024 11:45 pm

    So sorry to hear of Mary’s passing. I enjoyed working with her at Rocky branch in the kitchen. Wonderful lady and will be missed. 🩷

  • Reid & Mary Kaye Bronsteatter Posted January 7, 2024 3:27 pm

    Mark, Emily, and Matt – we heard from Mary that she was in the hospital before Christmas and we had texted her after Christmas and had not heard back. As this is so unlike her we went online today and saw this. We are so very sorry for all of you to hear of Mary’s death and out heart goes out to all of you. Looking at all the comments we would have to say “ditto” to all the comments as she is such a kind and thoughtful person. Although we met during Radiation at Mayo last year at this time and we were all challenged, the support of Mary for everyone is just so like her when she was not well herself. We know she is now in peace . God Bless her and all of you. So happy that we got to know you all.

  • Julie Holmes Posted January 9, 2024 12:17 pm

    Mark so sorry to see that Mary passed away. I remember both of you well. Whenever she came into the office she would always give me a hug. Blessings and peace to all of you.

  • Kaari naughton Posted January 10, 2024 9:07 am

    So thankful for so many amazing hugs. She was a wonderful person and I will miss her smile and wave every time I drive by the house. Love you Emily. Prayers to you all.

  • Randy Schwark Posted January 11, 2024 4:50 pm

    Mary had this magical way of making everyone feel special, and that “she” was your biggest fan.
    I’ll never forget her hugs, or enthusiatic “cool beans!” whenever I’d put kids artwork up in the halls.
    Just knowing her made you want to be a little kinder…a little gentler, But woe to the bully, or anyone
    expressing cruelty to another.

    She was Badger from The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Graehame, defending the small, the weak or
    downtrodden. She loved fiercely and was a giver and True friend. When my Mother was ill
    and living with me for a time, she volunteered to visit and put drops in her eyes when I couldn’t
    leave work. Who does that these days? I love you Mary and thank you. My deepest and heartfelt
    condolences to you all. I share your sadness.

    • Emily Keating Posted January 12, 2024 2:08 pm

      Just beautiful, thank you Randy! You summed up my mom.

  • Nancy Jensen Antiel Posted January 13, 2024 7:12 pm

    Dear Emily and family, please know I was with you via live stream due to the winter weather today. I am grateful for this special service, for a special lady. Mary will be remembered fondly. Sending our condolences, prayers and love.
    Nancy Jensen Antiel & family

  • Erin Hoffman Austin Posted January 15, 2024 7:59 pm

    I was so sad to hear of Mary’s passing. I have fond memories of being over at the Babler house with Julie Richards and of talking to her at school events–mostly basketball games, of course. And every time I saw her, she just radiated sunshine. What a gift she was.

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