Mary Lou Gillstrom (nee Vickers) passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 17, 2020 at the age of 89 of congestive heart failure.
Mary Lou is survived by her 3 daughters, Carrie (Paul) Matteson, Amy (Joe) McCarthy, and Julie (Jim) Bernad. She is further survived by her 6 grandchildren, Sam and Cole (Leah) Matteson, Meg and Evan McCarthy and Jack and Jenna Bernard. Further survived by her sister Betty Jane Ost and sister-in-law Nel Vickers, and many nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her husband of 46 years John Edwin (Jack) Gillstrom and her brother James Vickers.
Carrie, Amy and Julie would like to give special recognition to Hank Clay, who has been Mary Lou’s devoted and loving companion in later years. They had a special bond through music, singing together in a Hartland church choir, and enjoying many outings together. Hank certainly enriched Mary Lou’s life, and we are grateful for it.
Mary Lou was born in Chicago, IL on May 23rd, 1930, the first child of Evan Bedant and Anna Louise (Lou) Vickers. She lived in the surrounding suburbs of Western Springs and then La Grange Park, before moving in 1970 to Nashotah, WI with her husband and children.
She was a graduate of Lyons Township HS in La Grange, IL and attended the University of Illinois. While living in La Grange, Jack and Mary Lou had a special, tight-knit group of friends, called Pot Luck which remained so for their entire lives. This bond instilled in their children the important value of friendship in life.
An impactful accomplishment in her life, was performing the lead role in Carmen for the Chicago Lyric Opera community division. After moving to WI, Mary Lou joined the Sweet Adelines singing group participating in many international competitions. Mary Lou was also a long time member of the Hartland Women’s club, taking special joy in awarding scholarships for local students while holding many leadership positions including President.
A dedicated patron of the arts for over 45 years, Mary Lou supported Milwaukee’s Florentine Opera, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts.
Everyone who knew Mary Lou will remember her for her beautiful voice and love of music. She was an accomplished piano player who shared her joy of playing and singing with family and friends and proudly passed these traditions and talents along to her children and grandchildren.
We would like to thank the staff of Brookdale Senior Living or providing Mary Lou with quality care and a safe, happy home for her last three years.
Private Services were held. Burial at Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Memorials appreciated to the Florentine Opera and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield.