Mary C. Brenke

Mary C. Brenke, 95, passed away peacefully, Sunday, April 10, 2022  at MacLaren Greater Lansing Hospital in Lansing, Michigan. Should friends and family desire, memorials may be sent in Mary’s honor to the Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 549 E. Mt Hope Ave, Lansing, MI  48910 or Great Lake Christian Home, 2050 Washington Rd, Holt, MI   48842

Daughter of Roscoe and Marie Van Velzor, Mary was born on March 2, 1927.  She had three brothers, William, James and Thomas.  She graduated from Sexton High School in 1945 and Michigan State University in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education.

Mary was married to her high school sweetheart, Thomas Ballmer, in 1946.  The couple had five children; Catherine Gardziola and her husband Dan, Carol Leonard and her husband Bruce, Daniel Ballmer and his wife Sandra, Thomas Ballmer and his wife Sally Pressly, Timothy Ballmer and his wife Christine.

After husband Tom’s passing, Mary married Robert Brenke in 2003 and gained two loving step-daughters, Nancy Farrar and her husband Mark Hall, and Jo Ellen Miskowski and her fiancé Thomas Campbell.

Mary’s grandchildren are Julie, Jay, Carolyn, Dan, Angela, Corey, Mollie, Sophie, Jacob, Zach, Corey, Shane, Lindsey, Matt and Christine.  At this writing there are twenty great grandchildren and more coming each year.

Mary grew up and lived in Lansing until she moved into the Great Lakes Christian Home, an independent living facility, in Holt.  She taught at Moores Park Elementary School from 1966 to 1987, primarily the upper grades.  She was a long-standing member of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church and the Grand Ledge Country Club.

Mary was an avid, fiercely competitive, golfer.  Weather permitting, she played daily.  She enjoyed all card and board games, but was also a competitive Bridge player.  She loved Euchre, Scrabble, Dominoes and Bingo.

As a young girl, Mary enjoyed a Silver Lake vacation, located in Oceana County just a dunes walk away from Lake Michigan, with her family.  That vacation became a yearly tradition!  Currently Mary’s extended family, her children and her grandchildren continue to enjoy a family reunion every summer the last full week in July where they enjoy hilarious campfires, competitive tournaments, sunning and swimming and of course, family fellowship. Mary’s family reunion can include more than 100 participants.  This summer, a memorial for our beloved mother, aunt and grandmother is being planned at Silver Lake.

Mary Ballmer/Brenke had a full life and a “good run.”  She was proud, competitive spirit, who loved family, church, work and fun.  When you went home for the holidays you knew you were in for “the good times.”  She will be sorely missed by family and friends.

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5 Messages to “Mary C. Brenke

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Tom Ballmer
April 15, 2022 at 12:08 pm

We all will miss our mother so much!

Megen Edwards
April 15, 2022 at 4:52 pm

My thoughts and prayers to the whole Ballmer clan! I will always remember the times we played euchre, scrabble, and of course golf while we were there. I know she is surrounded by so many loved ones that had past before her. We love you and will miss you Aunt Mary!

Eric Kramer
April 15, 2022 at 5:04 pm

My condolences, Tom. Sounds like your beloved mom had led a wonderfully fulfilling life, though, and that’s a great achievement.

I wish that you, your mom, and all rest of what are surely her many family members and friends, may now find peace.

patti sjostrand cribbins
April 16, 2022 at 12:35 pm

What an accomplished woman she was! Although I never met her I have seen her legacy live on in the Tom Ballmer Family and I understand that she will be missed. May her family and friends find peace in knowing that hers was a life well lived.

Sandy Gaunt Heany
April 17, 2022 at 10:47 am

My prayers and love to the Ballmer family. Growing up on Forest Ave would never have been the same without Mary, Tom and kids, my second family. So many lessons taught and good times had. Truly a blessing to know her!


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