Mary Elizabeth (Zander) DeRocher was the eldest of four children, born to John and Hazel Zander, Jr. on April 29, 1937. At the age of 83, Mary passed away peacefully February 3, 2021 with family by her side.
Mary was born and raised in Brainerd, where she much enjoyed lake life, sunshine, “Up North” and all the lakes area has to offer. Mary attended St. Francis Elementary, Franklin Junior High School and Washington High School. She earned her degree as a registered nurse from St. Catherine University and practiced her profession at St. Joseph’s Hospital (Brainerd), Good Shephard Nursing Home (Sauk Rapids), and Foley Medical Center (Foley).
She was happily married to Darien DeRocher, another Brainerd native, for 61 years. Mary and Darien were married on November 28, 1959. They were blessed with four children, Jody (Pete) Garberg of Minneapolis, James of Ostego, Jeffrey (Cindy) of Foley, and Jill (Scott) Hollenkamp of Sartell, and a loving bunch of seven grandchildren, Jade, Jacy, Jerrod, Blake, Derrick, Dacota, and Dylan and eight great-grandchildren, Lane, Emerson, Violet, Maylie, Carter, Amelia, Cameron, Grace with the ninth – Baby H - expected in Spring. Mary is also survived by her brother, James (MaryAnn) Zander and several nieces, nephews and cousins. She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Hazel; brother, Jack; and sister, Marg.
The DeRocher’s chose to live and raise their family in Foley, MN. Foley is where they both spent most of their careers, as well. In addition to her nursing career, many may be surprised to know that Mary was active in the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association (MSHCA). Alongside Darien, Mary served as Assistant Executive Secretary for the MSHSCA, she was the first female member of the MSHSCA, and was granted the honor of the George Hahn Memorial Award after 25 years of service.
They returned to the Brainerd Lakes Area in 1994, where they enjoyed their retirement years together at the lake. She had many friends and enjoyed playing cards and socializing. She was a wiz at crossword puzzles. She never missed a newspaper article and between all of her friends and acquaintances she met throughout her career in MSHSCA, she was sure to know many of the individuals honored or mentioned in the paper, especially the sports section. She was also a member of the Foley Yacht Club.
She was a member of All Saints Catholic Church, she always made a point to attend Saturday evening Mass, even when that meant leaving the sun and sand at the lake.
Mary’s family would like to send heartfelt thanks to her caregivers at Diamond Willow Assisted Living and St. Croix Hospice for their compassion and skilled care that they provided to Mary, as well as for making her final days comfortable and peaceful.
In memory of Mary, we ask that any memorial be sent to American Cancer Society.
Gone but not forgotten!
The Celebration of Mary’s Life will be held at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, February 13, 2021 at Nelson – Doran Funeral Home in Brainerd. Family and friends are welcome to gather one hour prior. Interment will be at a later at Evergreen Cemetery in Brainerd.
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