A celebration of life for Mary Katherine Dannhausen will be held at Write On, Door County, 4210 Juddville Road, from 1-3:30 pm Saturday, July 31. All are welcome to attend and share memories of Mary. The former nurse, restaurateur and gardener was the wife of Myles Dannhausen Sr., the mother of Christine, Barbara, Kathy, Dan, Myles Jr., and Heather and grandmother to 14 grandchildren. Dannhausen was born Dec. 10, 1942 in Chicago, IL, and died Jan. 28, 2021 at her home in Egg Harbor.
When Mary Dannhausen died January. 28, 2021, the world lost a smile that brightened a room, an infectious laugh, and a woman whose compassion touched every person she met. She overcame numerous health and personal setbacks to live a generous, loving life until succumbing to the effects of lung cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's at age 78.
Born Mary Katherine Beckwith to Helen and Lawrence Beckwith on December 10, 1942 and raised in the Canaryville neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, she first exhibited her quiet toughness as a young child.
Mary was the victim of a hit and run at age five and was read her last rites as she lay in her hospital bed. She survived, only to lose her father to injuries suffered in World War II, and her mother to breast cancer a few years later. Mary, her brother John and sister Ann Marie were taken in by their aunt Anna O’Malley, who raised them as her own. Mary graduated from Mercy High School, then enrolled in pre-med at Loyola University of Chicago in 1961. There she was introduced to fellow student Myles Dannhausen, who she would marry at St. Gabriel’s Church in Chicago on Jan. 20, 1968. Together they would raise six children and enjoy 60 years of love and companionship.
In 1974 they left Chicago for Door County, where they joined the family business at Stagecoach Junction in the former Bertschinger Lumber Yard in Egg Harbor. Mary would help run the business and work many side jobs to help make ends meet as their family grew. She was fiercely proud of her Chicago family, and made sure that her children were connected to her brother and sister’s families, the Beckwiths and the Griffins. But she came to love the soil, trails, and waters of Door County. Mary was happiest with her children, casting for bass on the causeway on Kangaroo Lake and perch at the Egg Harbor dock.
Mary and Myles were part of the first class of First Responders in Door County. Then, at age 42 with six children at home, she returned to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay to finally finish nursing school, after which she worked as an RN for long-term care facilities.
She was selfless, and to the end she loved to lend a helping hand to people in need in any way she could. She helped her sons open Dano’s Pizza to help pay for college, a venture that would evolve into running Husby’s Food and Spirits in Sister Bay.
Though Alzheimer's stole many of her memories, it could never pry away her skills as a wonderful, gentle, caring mother and grandmother. Nothing made her as happy as a baby to hold and her endless desire to make them smile.
Mary was a voracious reader who passed on her love of books and writing to her children. She loved vacations with Myles in Cabo San Lucas, knitting, crocheting, painting, playing solitaire, scratching off lottery tickets, and word games. She loved all things chocolate, all things red, and absolutely despised the taste of butter. Her endless compassion extended to her love of animals, from horses and tropical birds to dogs and cats. She worked as a census taker, volunteered for democratic candidates, and was happy to live long enough to see a democrat back in the White House.
She and Myles Sr. became home gardeners before it was cool, raising animals and growing food to feed their family. Later, they would be passionate supporters and advocates for Door County’s local food movement and area farm markets. She taught her family how to plant seeds, grow vegetables and loved guiding her grandkids through the rows of the garden.
In her last decade she was lovingly cared for by her husband who she adored. Myles joined her at events, dinners, farm markets, and ensured that she got ample visits to the grandchildren who made her so happy. Her smile and laugh were contagious to the very end.
Mary Dannhausen loved her children, her life in Door County, and she loved “our little house.” That’s where she took her last breaths, at home with family, side by side with her husband, as they were throughout 53 years of marriage.
Mary will be missed by her husband, Myles; their four daughters, Christine (Christian) Dannhausen-Brun of Hinsdale, IL, Barbara (Gary) Lam of Baltimore, MD, Kathleen (Alan) Yanda of Sacramento, CA, and Heather (Alfonso) Dannhausen of Los Angeles, CA; and sons, Daniel (Dora) Dannhausen of Waterloo, Belgium, and Myles (Anne) Dannhausen Jr. of Sister Bay. She is also survived by the sister she loved, Ann Marie Griffin; 13 grandchildren, Jacob, Emma, Rachel, Aidan, Greta, and Ava Dannhausen-Brun; Kennedy and Henry Yanda; McKenna and Eleanor Lam; Audrey and Christopher Galang; Conner Dannhausen; and number 14 on the way; brother-in-law, H. Richard Dannhausen; sisters-in-law, Barbara Dannhausen and Jan Dannhausen; and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. She was preceded in death by her father, Lawrence Beckwith; mother, Ella Marie “Helen” Beckwith; guardian, Anna V. O’Malley; brother, John Beckwith and his wife, Joanne; and brother-in-law, Jack Griffin.
Memorials may be made to Neighbor to Neighbor Caregivers, who helped improve so many of Mary’s days, and to the Egg Harbor Historical Society. The family would like to thank all those who made her final days better, especially the caregivers of Unity Hospice.
Huehns Funeral Home, Inc. & Door County Crematory LLC in Sturgeon Bay are assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Mary may be shared with her family through her tribute page at www.huehnsfuneralhome.com.
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