Neevel, Mary Ann (Nee Wilner ) Passed away beside her loving family on October 12, 2016, at the age of 76. Born in Fargo, North Dakota on December 31, 1939, she was a proud graduate of North Dakota State University (Go Bison!) and Yale University Divinity School. While at Yale, she was one of the first women to be granted a Master of Divinity degree. A longtime resident of Shorewood, Mary Ann was the beloved wife and companion of Walter G. Neevel for 53 years, the loving and proud mother of David Neevel (Drew Hohensee) and Neeve Neevel, the cherished sister of L. Bruce Wilner (Elinor), Laura Wahl (James), and the late Stanley Wilner (Alice). She was the much adored aunt of Steve Wahl (Teri), Nancy Bares (Craig), Eric Wilner, Joan L. Wilner, John J. Wilner (Susan) and Mickey Hellerud; she is further survived by great-nieces and nephews, other relatives, and many good friends. Having served 50 years in ministry, as one of the first women ordained in the Boston area, Mary Ann was the Senior Pastor at Plymouth United Church of Christ in Milwaukee for over twenty years. She served her church community with an open-minded leadership, paving the way, in 1991, to Plymouth's status as a church Open and Affirming of the LGBT community. An attendee of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, she committed her ministry to the dream of equality and justice for all, creating space for and standing with marginalized communities and survivors of abuse. She was a founding member of the Milwaukee Association for Interfaith Relations, now the Committee for Interfaith Understanding of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, and a devoted member of Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH). Mary Ann served on various boards and committees for Aurora Health Care, including a term as the Chair of the Board of Directors and many years on the Social Responsibility Committee. One of her greatest joys involved attending and serving as a delegate to the World Council of Churches Assembly in Canberra, Australia and Harare, Zimbabwe; in Harare, a most cherished memory was the opportunity to shake the hand of Nelson Mandela. Her longtime involvement with the United Church of Christ on the national level involved service on the Executive Council and co-chairing the Board for Global Ministries. Mary Ann's unconditional love for her family was immense. She will be deeply missed by all whose lives she touched. Her grace, strength and fortitude in facing and surviving four bouts with cancer over fifteen years is a testament to her incredible joie de vivre and her devotion to the people with whom she shared this love. The world is all the better a place having known her insightful, gentle, wise spirit and ministry. She is one of a kind, and shared her singularity with so many, lifting and illuminating. May we shine her light upon this world's darkness, stand tall for justice on her solid grounding and find comfort in her journey home to a most loving God. A Memorial Service celebrating Mary Ann's life will be held on Saturday, October 29, at 11:00 AM, at Plymouth United Church of Christ, 2717 E. Hampshire Street, Milwaukee. Family will greet friends at a reception following the service. Interment will be private. Memorials in Mary Ann's name may be made to the Plymouth Church Mission Fund, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee (5409 W. Vliet Street, Milwaukee, WI 53208) or the Blood Center of Wisconsin (PO Box 2178, Milwaukee, WI 53201) for research on Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The family encourages donations of blood and gives thanks to all donors for helping to prolong lives.
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