Mary Carlen, 80

Mary Katherine (Gillman) Carlen, 80, of Dassel, formerly of Cokato, died Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at the St. Cloud Hospital.

Mary, the daughter of Claude and Katherine (Wessels) Gillman, was born March 25, 1940, in Litchfield, Minnesota, along with her twin sister Marcia.

The family moved to a farm south of Dassel in 1944, where they resided for several years before they moved to Cokato.

Mary attended district schooling before she graduated from the Cokato High School in 1958.

She was baptized and later confirmed at the Vineyard United Methodist Church in Hutchinson. She had been a faithful member of the Walker United Methodist Church of Howard Lake, where she was active in many aspects of the church. If there was a need, she filled it. She sang in the choir, served at many luncheons, and volunteered her talents and time, until it closed.

She then joined the Cokato Evangelical Lutheran Church, where she enjoyed being a member of the bell choir and serving at lunches.

She was presently a member of the Dassel Covenant Church, where she continued to volunteer her time and talents. She was grateful for the friendships and fellowship at her current church home. Mary’s faith was very important to her.

On February 7, 1959, Mary was united in marriage to Harlund Carlen at the Walker United Methodist Church in Howard Lake. They were blessed with three children, Kristi, Kimberly, and Kevin.

They raised their family in Cokato, and in their retirement moved to Dassel. She enjoyed the friendships made in their neighborhood, and often could be found playing cards, dominoes, or games of chance with neighborhood friends.

Mary first worked at the Cokato Green Giant plant for several years during the annual corn pack.

She then worked at Fabri-Tek in Cokato for 35 years until retirement.

The most enjoyable job Mary had was in the kitchen at the Dassel-Cokato Schools. While she called herself a “lunch lady,” she was lovingly called “Grandma Mary” by many students. These students made sure to be in her line, where they lovingly were given an extra scoop of lunch. She made sure they were never hungry.

She loved to spend time in her flower garden, and anything related to music and polka dancing. She crocheted many items.

She enjoyed baking, and liked to try out new recipes for meals and desserts. She was a wonderful hostess to everyone who entered her home and always had a treat and coffee available.

Her grandchildren knew there would always be a special treat waiting for them, either from the cookie jar, or grandma’s candy jar.

Mary enjoyed seeing many different parts of the country with friends and family.

Duluth was a special place to her, and she enjoyed many trips there with her family.

Activities that revolved around her children or grandchildren were especially dear to her. She loved her family with her whole heart, and she will be forever missed and eternally loved by her many family members and friends.

She is survived by her husband, Harlund Carlen of Dassel; children, Kristi (David) Cochran of Waverly, Kimberly (Richard) Stallman of Dayton, and Kevin (Nicole) Carlen of Dassel; grandchildren, Nicholas (Cyndi) Cochran, Justin (Joanna) Cochran, Brenda Evans, Bridget (Keith) Tate, Jamie Stallman, Alexis (Dylan Gehrke) Carlen, Anna (David Aakhus) Carlen, and Alyssa Carlen; great grandchildren, Travis and Hudson Cochran, Zoey, Brianna, and Devon Manthei, Cameron, Grant, and Paige Cochran, Jackson and Easton Tate, siblings, Marvel (Donald) Blom of Hutchinson; twin sister, Marcia (Floyd) Anderson of Apple Valley, and Irene Krejci of Hutchinson. She is also survived by Harlund’s siblings, and many nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

She was preceded in death by her grandson, Austin Carlen, her parents, Claude and Katherine Gillman, and brother, Lowell Gillman. She is also preceded in death by several brothers and sisters-in-law.

A memorial service took place on Tuesday, March 16, at the Evangelical Covenant Church in Dassel, with Rev. Darren Olson officiating. The interment of the urn will take place at the Dassel Community Cemetery at a later date.

A gathering took place Monday, March 15 at the Johnson Funeral Home in Dassel.

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