Cover photo for Mary E. Kaehler's Obituary
Mary E. Kaehler Profile Photo
1963 Mary 2023

Mary E. Kaehler

January 11, 1963 — January 9, 2023

Mary E. (Walsh) Kaehler, age 59 of Vadnais Heights, passed away suddenly on January 9, 2023.​Preceded in death by parents, Stephen and Maxine; and brother, Bill.​Survived by husband, Allen; daughter, Emily (Danny) Hedlund; son, Patrick; grandson, Ozzy Hedlund; sister, Colleen Dunphy Komar; many other relatives and friends.​     Mary was born in St. Paul on January 11th 1963, becoming the fifth member of the Walsh family. Daughter to a “Full blooded Irishman”, Stephen, referred to his youngest child as “little one.” Mary had to assimilate quickly to keep up with her much older siblings.  Momma Max [mother] was the ultimate caregiver, providing unconditional support to family and friends alike. Bill [brother] quickly found solace in Mary after her first optometrist appointment, knowing he wasn’t alone in his sightlessness.  Following that, they started their own banter and inside jokes – calling each other “Cokey” [in reference to their Coke bottle-esque glasses] and sharpening their fluency in sarcasm with daily repartee.  Colleen [sister] was her role model, best friend, and eventual mother figure following Maxine’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis at a very young age.​     As the youngest, Mary knew she had an uphill climb and was set on addressing academics and athletics with the relentless work ethic instilled by her family. She paired this approach with a spunky spitfire mentality and infectious personality that captivated everyone in the room.  Mary was a gifted pianist, earning the guild award as a young child.  She had the talent to continue down this path towards a profession but it didn’t have the human interface that she desired.  Mary was also very athletic and would show no mercy while competing in basketball and softball. She excelled in gymnastics and was recognized as one of the top gymnasts in the state of Minnesota taking First place on Beam and Second place on floor. ​     She was always put together and lived life to the fullest with whatever she was doing.  She demonstrated unwavering love, generosity, empathetic gracefulness, authenticity, and sincerity. May these memories help us memorialize her life.​     In 1976, the family moved to the Como Park neighborhood. A lot of the friends she shared hobbies with lived in the neighborhood, making it easier to grow their relationships into life long bonds.  While in high school, she developed a crush on a “Kaehler boy” named Al.  Al was a boy from across the tracks, on the fringe of her friend group.  His southside swagger caught her eye but she knew she needed a little more to convince her fellow northsiders on the match.  Following graduation, and keeping the crush undisclosed, she aimed her sights on a dental degree at the University of Minnesota. She graduated with a diploma in one hand and a Kaehler boy’s hand in the other.       Mary also graduated summa cum laude in playing pool, so it was no shock to learn their first date was in a pool hall.  After a few weekends of receiving flowers, from the sore losers after a pool game, on the family’s front stoop…her parents started to inquire.  From the inquiry, they found out two things…their daughter was a pool shark and she was infatuated with a boy named Al.  Mary and Al were a dynamic duo on the table, hustling the competition.  More often than not, this led to a free night out as the opponents picked up the tab and they moved on to the next local pool hall.​     Mary and Al loved to go up to Taylors Falls, where they shared an appreciation for being outdoors, surrounded by water, nature, and cranking tunes through an old boombox while cruising in Al’s red 79’ Cougar. They solidified their love with vows shared in 1985.​     After the wedding, Mary melded into Al’s family with ease and a deep bond grew with Orville, Pearl, and the other 7 siblings. His family was quite opposite to what she was used to but she loved the exciting chaos that came from a large family.      When asked about their earlier years together, Al mentioned the heavy influence Mary had on him.  She taught him how to dress, what proper manners were, and showed him that meals other than meat and potatoes existed in the world.  Al followed suit willingly, knowing it would appease the woman he fell for.​     As for her dental assistant profession, Mary brought a charismatic demeanor into the office and always found meaningful conversation with her patients through her relatable and down to earth personality.  She proudly worked at Dr. Jerry Sherwood’s private practice, as his assistant, for 34 years and she coveted both professional and personal relationships with Jerry and Bev [Jerry’s receptionist and wife].  Throughout the years, Mary benchmarked with them on rearing children, inevitably bringing both families closer through the levity of those trials and tribulations discussed.  She made work fun, cherishing the friendships and memories she made with all her co-workers and patients. While actively practicing dentistry for nearly two thirds of her life, she established close bonds with multiple generations of families…fulfilling her passion to help others.​     In 1988 and 1992, Mary and Allen created their own family, bringing Emily and Patrick into the world.  Anyone who knew Mary, knew how much pride she had for her children. She pushed them to succeed in school, follow their passions, and taught them the steps needed to be well rounded people. They made a great team as parents, integrating similar core values shared between both Walsh and Kaehler’s.​     As the head of the house, and nucleus of the family, Mary successfully instilled these values into her kids. Al had a great influence but everyone knew Mary was at the helm. She fueled their passions with her excitement for them, always seeking out an opportunity to express her love by humbly bragging about them through stories and recent memories to friends and family.​     “Em” was Mary’s brown eyed girl. They enjoyed many of the same hobbies and interests including a love for Mexican food, cheesy television shows such as Baywatch and The Bachelor, gardening, warm weather, attending live music anywhere, and shopping for hours on end. As a child, one of Emily’s favorite days of the year was when Mary allowed her to play hooky from school in exchange for a fun-filled day of shopping and eating at Mall of America. Mary usually had to call ahead to make sure MOA had enough on-hand stock of footwear…neither of them had a shortage of shoes. One of Emily’s favorite memories was during Mary’s birthday dinner at a local pizzeria. Mary was gifted a new pair of winter riding boots and was excited to wear them to dinner the following night. Being in her mid-40s, we thought she’d be able to successfully take the two boots out of the box and put them on her feet but…after a visit to the restaurant’s bathroom…sure enough, Mary came back to the table hysterically laughing and pointing down at her feet. “Um, I have two different boots on – I wondered why I was walking funny”. The entire family was crying from laughter.      Mary acknowledged that “Patrick” [forever frustrated that everyone called him Pat] was very much his Father’s son despite having many distinguishable similarities to her. They shared quick wit and an Irish temperament. Both fierce competitors with an upbeat energy and a positive outlook on life. They always enjoyed being outdoors together, sharing an appreciation for nature and animals. They would seek out restaurants with live music, spend family time up north, go to sporting events, or relax at home jamming tunes and eating her delicious home cooked meals.      One of Pat’s favorite memories with Mary was on their family vacation in Arizona. They had stopped at a gift shop after a long drive. As a restlessly energized 10 year old, Pat found himself in a peculiar situation outside of the gift shop (those who know Pat understand his innate ability to find ways to injure himself in unconventional ways). This particular scenario was no different as he managed to brush into a cactus leaving cacti stuck to his butt, through his shorts. Pat went into the gift shop leaving his cousin, Ryan, in sticks.  Embarrassed that his cousin had witnessed this, Pat tucked tail and headed back outside.  Mary saw that her son had started the transformation into a porcupine and began plucking out the cacti from her son’s rear end, shaking from laughter.  She couldn’t get all the needles out, so she just followed her son around the aisles of the gift shop while wiping the tears of hysteria rolling down her face.  It took Pat a few years to see the humor in this story.      During the summertime, you would find Mary cheering on the sidelines of a ball field somewhere.  She would watch intently, until her kids took the mound to pitch. She’d have to avert her eyes, when the batter swung, assuming the ball was coming back at them to knock their teeth out.  A mother’s worry comes naturally but Mary’s worry stemmed from nature and experience, likely from the revolving door at the hospital.  Whether it was Em doing her best Evil Knievel impersonation on the bike or Pat testing out the durability on most of his bones, she had her hands full.  Luckily, her safety measures for them took root later in life… buckle up, don’t speed, be safe, and text when you’re there…and her worry became a little more manageable.      She was able to pull the release valve on the stress in a few key locations – any Marshalls or HomeGoods in the tri-county area, her favorite Cub Foods, or up north in Sherwood Forest Campground.  A majority of the Kaehler’s call Sherwood Forest their home over the summer weekends, with their cabins all nestled next to each other.  Unplugged in the woods, surrounded by family congregating over a fire, her “favorite son-in-law” [Danny] butler to cook and top her wine off while Power Loon Radio played memorable hits in the background.       Mary also had a recharge station down in Clearwater Florida, where Colleen and the Dunphy/Komar family reside, which was often her favorite during the winter months of arduous accumulation in Minnesota. Her passion for shopping was exponentially changed when combined with Colleen. You couldn’t help but hear them from anywhere you were in a store. Often lost under the height of a clothing rack or end cap in a grocery store, due to their small stature, they would use words at high decibels to find each other or provide updates on each thought that came to mind. Her father, Steve, put it best…“when you got the one from the north and the one from the south together you’d be lucky to get a word in.” She was delighted to be Colleen’s sister and a secondary mother figure to her adored Floridian family.      She loved and hated to travel, enjoying new experiences and memories minus the actual flight, which she was terrified of.  In 2018, she knew there was no choice other than to show up in Costa Rica for her daughter’s wedding.  Anxious for the wedding, and traveling there, it ended up being one of the best things she ever did for that fear of the unknown.  Those who were on the zip lines with her know, she left all fear at the door.  On one of the zip lines, instead of using her hands to brake as she came into the final leg of the ride…she had all limbs out like a celebrating starfish, screaming into the finish line. That’s who Mary was!  Had our guides not seen this and thrown out the stopper to slow her down, she would’ve been donning a couple black eyes for wedding photos the next day.  Moments after the wedding, she immediately asked when the grandchildren would be showing up.​     Fast-forward to 2022 when Mary’s first grandchild, Ozzy, was born. “My baby boy” was the first thing she’d say when greeting him, as if he was her own.  It was easy to see how much they treasured each other and how special their bond was. They didn’t have long together, but she made the most of every meaningful moment.  With loss there is life, and Mary’s legacy will live on through Ozzy.​     Mary took to life with an uncanny ability to incorporate fun into all situations, with a welcoming spirit and vibrant energy. She was gratified by putting smiles on faces of family, friends, patients, and complete strangers. If you knew Mary, you knew that the size of her heart was much larger than her frame. A staunch Irishwoman with a radiant smile and a laugh that could clear a room. She loved so many people and taught us all what it meant to be a great mother and friend. True generosity is a rare trait and you could feel it when you were around Mary, humbly putting her family and friends before herself. As her father Steve would always say “You’re not worth a damn if you can’t have a good laugh” and that’s something Mary did daily. She will be dearly missed and her spirit and impact will live on through the tactful tutelage she gave to her family.​     As many of you know, Mary was a registered donor. The donor company we are working with,  LifeSource, has informed the family that Mary will impact upwards of 70 people. “Donation offers healing to a family experiencing a loss and hope to the patient receiving the transplant.” For more information on how to become a donor, visit https://www.donatelifemidwest.org/mn/. Additionally, Mary also wished to donate her brain to Alzheimer’s research. Unfortunately, through this experience we have learned that registering a brain to be donated for research is an essential first step. Donating upon death without prior arrangement was something we weren’t able to fulfill and wish we had known ahead of time. If you or someone you know is interested, please visit https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/research_progress/brain-donation for more information.​     We encourage those reading this to PLEASE share your favorite memory in the comments section as a gift to the family to memorialize Mary from your perspective. ​     In lieu of flowers, the family requests that if donations are made, please contribute them to the Alzheimer's Association.​Memorial service to be held at 4:00 PM Friday, January 20 at Mueller-Bies Funeral Home - Roseville, 2130 N. Dale St. at County Rd B. Visitation will be from 2-4 PM Friday at the funeral home.
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Friday, January 20, 2023

2:00am - 4:00 pm (Central time)

Mueller-Bies Funeral Home

7050 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes, MN 55014

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Memorial Service

Friday, January 20, 2023

Starts at 4:00 pm (Central time)

Mueller-Bies Funeral Home

7050 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes, MN 55014

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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