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Mary Marjorie Gamble, 89, of Big Rapids

She was a peacemaker. Mary Marjorie Gamble, 89, of Big Rapids winged her flight to the Heavenly kingdom on May 4, 2022, at home with family present. 

Mary was born in Detroit, MI on January 19, 1933, to Ruth and Edward Strohm. She was raised in Detroit along with her brother, Leland and graduated from Redford High School.  She went on to get her bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy at Wayne State. Mary took her first job at Mary Free Bed Rehab Hospital in Grand Rapids and worked as an occupational therapist for MOISD for the remainder of her career. She was an advocate and supporter to all persons, especially children with special needs. 

Mary was united in marriage to Joseph Gamble on September 27th, 1958. After living in East Lansing MI and Vincennes IN, in 1965 Mary and Joe moved to Willow Ave in Big Rapids. She and Joe were members of the United Church of Big Rapids, where she participated as a church schoolteacher, in mission outreach, and as a member of the handbell choir. Mary was a kind and caring woman who will be greatly missed by family, neighbors and friends far and wide. She walked her faith in a myriad of practical ways, including philanthropy, astute listening, and opening/sharing her home with others.

Every fall, Mary and Joe would make the BEST preserves - including applesauce, peaches, pickles, pepper relish in preparation for sharing with family, making the tradition of Christmas gift-giving super special and authentic!  Traditions have also been passed on with family recipes for yellow cake, springerle and lebkuchen cookies, and Swedish tea rings, making the “Holiday Home” a cornucopia of welcoming smells and learning for all arrivals.

Mary organized and participated in peace marches & conferences, retreats, interfaith prayer groups, and international folk dances. She loved music and being a woodcarver, seamstress, calligrapher and gardener. Mary interacted with nature in a way unlike most. She saw the beauty in small and unusual objects; rocks, seashells, driftwood, leaves, feathers, flowers, and she made collections of all the treasures she found.  Treasured collections also included: notes, letters, lace, photographs, stories…speaking to the depth of her interest in people and their voices, with their own stories to tell. 

Mary’s gift in life was to bring peace and love to everyone with whom she came in contact.  She and Joe opened their home to provide respite to children with special needs, hosted exchange student Sanna, and numerous members of international choirs and bands. Ferris students Lydia and Naftali, who resided in the Gamble home during their schooling, became part of the family.  Mary’s lifelong love and care for dogs included training two puppies, Solomon and Sunray, for Leader Dogs for the Blind.  Her loving puppy, Pearl, has added companionship and joy the past year and a half.

Mary is survived by her children, Alan (Prisca), Ken (Joanne), and Karen (James Gussert); grandchildren, Charlotte (Afam), Levi (Summer), Ginger (Mark), Jordan, and Griffin; and great-grandchildren, Hawkins, Ember, Suvi, Myra and Vesper, with 1 soon to arrive. She was preceded in death by her husband of 61 years, Joe Gamble.

The Gamble Family expresses our deepest gratitude to Mary’s caregivers: Susan, Mary, Ericka, Taylor, Marissa, Caitlyn, Kelse, and others. Mary’s quality of life was greatly enhanced with the support of these caring individuals and Willow Avenue neighbors. We thank Susan for helping to sustain a peaceful, joyful, loving home.    

A memorial gathering will be held late August in Big Rapids. In lieu of flowers, live in peace with all. Care and arrangements are entrusted to the Mohnke Funeral Home in Big Rapids. Share a memory or express condolences at mohnkefuneralhome.com.

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