Obituary: Mary Elizabeth Gerstein

Mary Elizabeth Gerstein, 88, of Verona, WI died on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at UW Hospital in Madison. Mary Elizabeth Gerstein (nee Allen) was a registered nurse who graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in Madison. She was a discriminating, voracious reader and a writer of fiction and poetry. Her greatest joy was her family. Together with Tom Birmingham, she had 11 children, raising them in the wild beauty of 1950s-’60s Door County. These were the years of mothering – first in a log cabin, then in a wooden framed farmhouse down a lane, finally at the large, windowed house across from the Fish Creek beach. Asked about a lack of a garden, Mary lined up her 11 children and replied, “This is my garden.” The years in Door County were followed by a move to Green Bay. In addition to raising her family, Mary went back to work as a psychiatric nurse. Following an earlier desire to write, she also went to the newly opened University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, earning her BA in Creative Writing. Mary then moved to Evanston, Illinois. There she received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, teaching writing at a Chicago College while continuing to work as an RN. In Chicago she met and married her second husband, Gary Gerstein. Mary’s last move was to Noel Manor in Verona, Wis., where she discovered again the pleasure of the company of like-minded neighbors.

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