Mary Bennett

Mary Zlabek Liberte Bennett died Monday, April 15, 2019 at Lakeshore Inn with her children by her side.

There is no way a newspaper obit can describe a full life of 93 years, as Mary knew well from writing obituaries for the LaCrosse, WI, Tribune for many years.  But, to begin: Mary Louise Missel was born June 28, 1925 to Herbert William and Clara Ann (Lavenz) Missel in Clinton, IA.  She was raised in Waterloo, IA where she was run over by a Model A at the age of three and had to spend the summer convalescing.  That winter she lost her entire life savings (get well gifts from the Uncles and Aunties, tucked away in the bank) when the Stock Market Crashed on Black Friday.  She attended Sacred Heart Catholic School for 13 years, including Kindergarten which was a rarity in those days.  She graduated in 1943 and then attended the WAC nursing program at Creighton University, Omaha, and Iowa State Teachers College, Cedar Falls, Iowa.  She was employed, following World War II, at John Deere Tractor Works, packaging tractors and parts for shipment to Europe for the Lend-Lease Program.

On October 1, 1946, Mary married John C. Zlabek at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Waterloo.  They then resided in his hometown of Prairie du Chien, WI, where her son, Johnny was born.  After moving first to Onalaska, WI and then LaCrosse, WI, they had their daughter, Mary Louise.  In 1956, they purchased a home on Spruce Drive in LaCrescent, MN, where Mary lived for the next 35 years. During these years she was a homemaker, an Avon Lady, and in 1963, was hired as a proofreader at the LaCrosse Tribune where she enjoyed a 22 year career until her retirement in 1985.  During those years she was also a copy editor, the “weather gal,” obituary writer, feature and by-line writer, and most remarkably, the Tribune Poet.  In an age when Metro newspapers did not publish poetry, Mary had approximately 75 poems in the newspaper over a six-year period. 

Her husband John died suddenly on June 11, 1968.  On November 29, 1975, she married Frank V. Liberte at Crucifixion Church in LaCrescent.  Frank and Mary built a beautiful life together in the Spruce Drive house, where they loved to entertain their many friends and family members.  They traveled to Jamaica twice with groups of friends.  Frank was a huge fan of Mary’s poetry, and often encouraged her efforts.  After retiring himself, Frank urged Mary to do the same so they could spend more time together. Unfortunately, Frank died suddenly on November 13, 1987. 

During her many years in LaCrescent, she was active with Crucifixion Parish and the Newman Center in LaCrosse, volunteered as a librarian at the LaCrescent library and as a poll volunteer.

Mary met DeWayne J. Bennett on a bus trip to the Southern States and they were married on June 17, 1993 at Crucifixion Church in LaCrescent.  Mary moved to Boyden, IA where they lived until DeWayne’s retirement in 2001, at which time they moved to Waseca to be near family.  While in Waseca, Mary has been active as a volunteer with the Neighborhood Service Center, and has been a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Waseca Senior Center.  She has also been proud to have a five generation family.

Mary also survived two separate breast cancers twenty years apart, as well as numerous other health crises since her run-in with the Model A.

Mary is survived by her husband, DeWayne Bennett of Waseca; her son, John C.F. (Ann)  Zlabek of Walker, IA, her daughter, Mary Zlabek, of Waseca; 5 grandchildren, Tina England of Waseca, Elizabeth Snitkey of Walker, Julie Zlabek of Hiawatha, IA, John Zlabek of Eagan, MN, and Katie Zlabek of Newhall, IA; 6 great-grandchildren, Stephanie England of Waseca, Thomas England of Ramsey, MN, Nicole Snitkey of Dubuque, IA, Mason, Noel and EmmaLee Snitkey, all of Walker; and one great-great-grandson, Colin England of Waseca.

In addition to her parents and two husbands, Mary was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Sarah Zlabek, her brother and sister-in-law, James and JoAnn Missel, sister- and brother-in-law, Mary and John Vach, sister- and brothers-in-law  Rita Bernier Krzebietke, Bill Bernier and Karl Krzebietke, and four nephews, John and Jeffrey Vach, John Bernier and Michael Missel.

The family will be eternally grateful for the love extended to Mary by the staff of Lakeshore Inn and the Mayo Hospice team, on top of the excellent care she received.  Thank you.

Visitation will be held at Dennis Funeral & Cremation Services in Waseca on Monday, April 22, 2019 from 4-7 PM with a 7:00 PM Parish Prayer Service.

Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 11:30 AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Waseca.

Funeral Mass will also be held in Le Crescent, MN on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 1:00 PM at Crucifixion Catholic Church.  Visitation will be held from 11:00 AM until the time of services at the church.  Burial will follow at Crucifixion Cemetery in La Crescent.


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