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Obituary for Mary Etta Zabel

Mary Etta (Heyerdahl) Zabel, 87, of La Crosse, died on July 6, 2018, peacefully at home surrounded by her large and loving family. Mary was raised in La Crescent, Minnesota the place she would always consider home. As a young girl she worked in the family garden. Her family provided produce for many local businesses. She also worked at The Landing on Shore Acres. While her parents managed the docks and restaurant. In 1952 she married a La Crosse boy, Fred Zabel. She and Fred made their home in La Crosse. The journey they embarked on brought forth a large and boisterous family. Even though there were some dark days, most memories are filled with family, friends, food and fun! Mary embraced an enjoyment of a simple life. Her décor – TV tables, pictures of the grandchildren and their art work. The color red. Her fashion style – red lipstick and fun jewelry. Her landscaping – flowers planted by grandchildren; and their painted rocks. Her fun and entertainment – good food and good friends– “Who has more fun than us?” Her passion – cooking and baking Her door was always open. She was always glad to see you and made everyone feel comfortable. Through the years she had worked and volunteered at many places, including La Crosse Foot Wear, The Garment Co. Red Cross, and Meals on Wheels The memories are endless; Mary in the kitchen, apple picking, frogs, $5.00 for Henri’s burger and a movie, junk drawer change for trips to the Polar Bear. Rides in the yellow Oldsmobile station wagon; delivering meals on wheels, and strawberry picking. Sunday afternoons were football or golf, martinis and a basket of garlic toast. The morning radio programs, two stations going at once, trying to win cakes, tickets and various prizes…all to give away to others. The infamous “shopping spree”. Bingo and baking. So many more. Holidays! Especially Christmas Eve – The evening started with the Children’s Christmas Eve Service at First Ev. Lutheran Church. Then off to Mary’s, to the brightly decorated house. The front room decorated with the Christmas tree, dwarfed with packages. Children with bright eyes and full of excitement. “The Traditional Family Photos”. There was a table full food and all her homemade Christmas goodies. The kitchen was reserved for cocktails and fun conversations. Mary had made amazing memories for all of us. Our memories also include her best friend Karen Lawrence. The two families have been like one for over 50 years. Sharing good times, bad times and all the family milestones. Her love of cooking and baking were shared with so many. Not just family and friends, but people in the workplace, or a staff of people at the hospital and many more. We all have our favorites, apple squares, Rosettes, German potato salad, garlic toast and of course “orange dip”. We will always remember her acts of kindness, unselfishness and happy attitude. She was a true “giver”. We were losing the Mary we used to know. Her body had become weak and frail. Her memory fading. Yet she would still ask, “Anything I can do to help”? or “ Please don’t bother, just for me” And “I’m cold, can you turn up the heat?” Thank you Mary Etta, Mom or Grandma Mary! You were the best! A real inspiration. “I hope to tell ya!” Mary is survived by her children; Fred and Michele Zabel, Paul and Judi Zabel, Julie Zabel and David Sprain, Gary and Teresa Zabel, Jon and Laurie Zabel, Heidi and Pat Marco, Kevin and Kathy Zabel. Her brother Charles (Chuck) Heyerdahl and his family. 16 Grandchildren, 17 great children and 2 great, great grandchildren. Mary was proceeded in death by her husband Fred, three children, Gretchen, Stephen and Eric; and her parents Rose and Charles Heyerdahl. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m., on Saturday, July 14, 2018 at the Jandt-Fredrickson Funeral Home, Woodruff Chapel, La Crosse. Pastor Richard T. Pamperin will officiate. A visitation will be held from 1 p.m. until the time of service. Online condolences may be sent at