Mary Whitmer

A prayer service for Mary Whitmer, age 89 of Hettinger, ND, will be held on Monday August 12, 2019 at 7 pm at the Hettinger
United Methodist Church, and a celebration of her life and memorial service will be Tuesday, August 13, 2019 at 11:30 am at the Hettinger United Methodist Church with Rev. Duane Coates officiating. Burial will be at the Hettinger Cemetery.
Mary Elizabeth Wanner Whitmer completed her earthly journey August 10, 2019, after living a long, loving, and joy-filled life. Mary was born to Daniel and Irene Wanner on May 31, 1930. Mary and her two sisters enjoyed a happy childhood living in various towns around North Dakota due to her father’s work. She graduated from Bowbells High School, attended Jamestown College, and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics at NDSU. This led her to spend the rest of her life, whether in career or in daily living teaching and doing the things she loved: cooking, sewing, crocheting, and quilting with great abandon.
Mary was married to Charles Johnk in 1955, a union that gave her four children and ultimately her greatest joy of grandchildren and great grandchildren. Mary met Alvin Whitmer in 1976 on a church sponsored trip to Washington DC. They soon married and she moved to Hettinger where she immediately became active in the United Methodist Church, the Shriners, and the community. Mary taught vacation bible school, did lay speaking, directed the choir, sang, and taught children, youth, and adult Sunday school. She was thrilled to have had the opportunity to lead the adult class from her hospital bed just two weeks ago.
She was heavily involved and found joy in all Naja Shriner activities over the years. Some of her favorites included fund-raising for the Shrine circus, providing her favorite baked goods for the annual picnic, bus trips to visit the Shrine hospital in Minneapolis, and bonding with the women supporting the Masons.
After retiring from her Extension Service career, Mary transitioned to substitute teaching and reveled in the students knowing her as “Grandma” for nearly 20 years. For many years each graduating senior received a doily made especially for him or her, boys last names were beautifully designed with Mary frequently commenting on the length of each name.
Mary was always up for adventure and road trips, and she and Al took dozens of trips throughout the country attending Blue Grass festivals, concerts and enjoying the national parks – for years one or two of the grandchildren traveled with them.
Mary was creative, good natured, faithful, and loving. She will be greatly missed by her family which includes her children Tracy Johnk, David Johnk (Lolly), Jennifer Seamands (Wayne), Alvin’s children Gayle Myers (David), Lou Whitmer, Ross Whitmer, ten grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren, her sister Marj Sire and a host of people she truly considered to be extended family. She is preceded in death by her husband Alvin, her son Daniel Johnk, and her sister Carol King.
Condolences to Mary’s family may be sent through our website at

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