Mary Bries

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Mary Bries
December 14, 1946-August 4, 2019

Mary J. Bries, 72, of Elkader, died peacefully on Sunday, August 4, 2019. As was her wish, she passed away in her own home surrounded by her children.

A funeral mass was held at 10 a.m., Saturday, August 10, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Garnavillo. Mary’s children received visitors from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, August 9, at the St. Joseph’s Church Hall in Garnavillo.

Mary Jean Berns was born in Guttenberg December 14, 1946, to Peter and Marie Langel Berns. She was joined in marriage to Charles Bries on February 17, 1968 (25 years and one day after her parents were wed) at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Garnavillo. Over the course of their 51 years of marriage, Mary and Charlie raised four children who blessed them with 12 grandchildren.

Mary was a 1965 graduate of Garnavillo Community High School and attended Mount Saint Clare College in Clinton, Iowa, graduating with her Associate of Sciences degree in 1967. Possessed of an entrepreneurial spirit, Mary first opened a fabric store on Cedar Street in Elkader, then later purchased a building on Main Street to create the «Elkader Mini Mall,» which included Bries’ Fabric & Fashion. Although health issues eventually forced her to retire as a full-time business woman, her love of people and desire to make their lives better, led her to serve as a special education associate and to lend her creative talents to Esser’s Clothing Store in Guttenberg.

In her spare time, Mary enjoyed dancing with Charlie at Lakeside Ballroom, sewing/doing crafts, reading books, playing cards/games, and talking about her children and grandchildren. Mary was an amazing woman who had the ability to make friends with ease. She impacted and brought joy to more people than we’ll ever know. We all love and miss you so very much.

She is survived by her husband, Charlie; four children Lisa (James) Odson of Ankeny, Vicki (Jon) Rieder of Seven Valleys, PA, Lori (Dan) Digmann of Marion, and Jason (Katie) Bries of Cedar Falls; 11 grandchildren, Marie, Noah and Olivia Odson, Brittney, Ian, Chase, Kaden and Teaghen Rieder, Benjamin and Thomas Digmann, and Brody Bries; one step-granddaughter, Grace Waseskuk; three sisters Barbara Farzan of Carmel, CA, Karen (Jack) Kopecky of Altoona, and Kathy (Brad) Schutte of Elkader; three brothers, Pete (Karen) Berns Jr. of Elkader, Fritz (Carol) Berns of Elkader, and Duane Berns of Des Moines; and one brother-in-law, Bennie Warren.

Mary is preceded in death by her parents and her sister, Judy (Berns) Warren.

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