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Obituaries from the week of Dec. 8, 2010

Mary Virnig, 22

Mary Catherine Hook Virnig, 22 year old resident of Onamia, MN passed away on Thursday, November 25, 2010 at  the University of Minnesota Fairview Hospital with her family by her side after a courageous battle with neuroblastoma and secondary leukemia. Funeral services were held at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, November 29, 2010 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Onamia, MN with Pastor Kris Johnson officiating.   Arrangements were with the Shelley Funeral Chapel of Onamia.

Mary Catherine was born on April 19, 1988 in St. Paul, MN to Patti Hook and Arden Virnig. They moved to Sioux Falls, SD to attend Family Practice residency. Mary was known for her brilliant eyes and long hair, which required braiding to maintain any form of control. She loved to visit the Hook farm even as a toddler and was often found peering through the fence eye to eye with 20 yearling heifers. The young family moved to Onamia, MN where Mary attended and graduated from Onamia Public Schools. She participated in band, speech, 4-H and was a 3-sport athlete. She strove for excellence as a state cross-country runner, basketball captain, champion beef show person, and class valedictorian. She broke the school record in the 1600 meter run. She was the Minnesota Simmental Queen and president of the Minnesota Junior Simmental Association. She was baptized in the United Methodist Church, Tracy, MN and confirmed in Bethany Lutheran Church, Onamia, MN.

 Mary had planned to run cross-country at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls (UWRF), while pursuing her academic plans to become a large-animal veterinarian. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with a childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, in a pre-participation physical. She earned the title “Warrior Princess” during her treatments with chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant, and research protocols. Ultimately she developed treatment-induced acute myelogenous leukemia which failed to respond to a cord blood transplant.

 Mary loved her Simmental cattle and being a student at UWRF, but adored her family. Nothing was more enjoyable for Mary than family time. Mary enjoyed broomball, ice skating, soccer, water skiing, cooking for family and friends, or simply sitting in the pasture watching her calf crop. A life-changing experience for her was teaching inner city Chicago children during her church youth group’s service trips. At college, although she was receiving chemo concurrently, she was a founding member of the Conquer Cancer Club and a member of the Relay for Life committee.

 Mary’s strength, tenacity and ability to set goals were truly remarkable. She lived her life abundantly. Her ability to lie in a bed for days and even weeks yet deliver a dead-pan one-liner to make a nurse or doctor smile never faded.

 Mary is survived by her mother Patti and her father Arden, sister Sarah and brothers Zachary and Samuel; grandfather Eugene Hook; Godparents Veronica and Gary Ives, Tom and Shannon Hook; Godchild Gabriella Mary Ehman. Aunts and Uncles: Ann and Donald Hoechst, Christina and James Meyer, Donna Virnig and James Behmke, Linda and John Kaufmann, Terrence and Janice Virnig, Daniel and Carla Virnig, Barb Virnig, Michael and Ruth Virnig. Cousins: Will, Bexsy and Kaitlyn Virnig; Eric Virnig; Cathy and Patrick Culligan; Jacob, Jamie and Matthew Virnig; Elicia and Ryan Rogers; Benjamin and Nora Kaufmann; Justin and Jessica Virnig; Leah and Joseph Hoechst; Isaac Meyer; Joshua, Joseph, Cassandra, Sarita and Annaka Hook; Susan, Dominic and Matthew Ehman.

Mary was preceded in death by baby brother Isaac Jeremiah, grandparents Mary Alice (Towler) Hook, W.J. Virnig, Catherine Eleanor (Kuisle) Virnig, and step-grandmother Shirley Virnig.

 Casketbearers were Mary’s friends: Amber Krotzer, Emma Hoheisel, Dell Hensch, Brian Girard, Sam Emmons, Kristen Odden, Jennifer Agnew, Melissa Agnew.

Honorary casketbearers were Mary’s cousins.