Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 10, 2009
Mary Magdalene Duenow of Northfield, Minn. died peacefully on Friday morning, May 8, 2009 at the age of 101.
Mary was born in Coldwater, Ohio in 1908, the second of six children of Mathias and Elizabeth Weber. The family moved to Stacyville, Iowa where Mary grew up, completed high school and in her late teens played the piano in her family’s dance band that performed throughout the region. Mary attended college at Iowa State Teachers College and returned home to work as a bookkeeper at the local bank. She married Lawrence C. Duenow in 1933 and for a few years lived wherever jobs were available in Iowa and Missouri.
In 1939 they settled in Austin, where they went into the restaurant business. Together they owned and operated the Blue Plate cafe for more than 12 years, then acquired the M&J Drive-In and later the Park Drive-In.
In the mid 50s they were recruited by Colonel Sanders to introduce his chicken recipe into their thriving business and later became charter franchise members of the newly established Kentucky Fried Chicken Corp. Mary was a full-time partner with her husband through all their business ventures and continued to expand their chain of stores following her husband’s death in 1972.
In addition to her career in the restaurant business, Mary took a keen interest in the education and various pursuits of her children. She enjoyed sewing, gardening and was an organist and sang in the church choir. She was an avid bridge player and enthusiastic Twins fan her entire life. She was an active member of the Queen of Angels Altar Society and frequently volunteered at St. Edwards Catholic Church in Austin. In her late 80s she moved to a retirement complex in Apple Valley, Minn. and spent her last few years at “The Rivers” in Burnsville and then the Three Links Care Center in Northfield, Minnesota.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Lawrence; brothers, Ottmar and Walter; sisters, Eleanor and Florence; son-in-law Larry; and great-grandchildren Oliver and Spencer. She is survived by her sister, Kathleen Bensmiller of Vista, Calif; daughters, Jane Nelson of Louisville, Colo. and Carol (Jay) Bambery of Woodbury, Minn.; sons, James (Diane) Duenow of San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Gene (Peg) Duenow of Elko, Minn.; 14 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at the Church of St. Dominic in Northfield. A private interment will be held at Calvary Cemetery in Austin. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service and a reception will follow. Memorials preferred to St. Jude’s Hospital. Arrangements are with the Benson & Langehough Funeral Home in Northfield.