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On Saturday, May 13, 2023, Alice Marie (McAleer) Gerstner, loving mother of six children and grandmother to 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, passed away peacefully at the age of 88.
Alice Marie Gerstner, known as “Marie” to her friends and family, was born in Danbury, Iowa, on December 31, 1934, to her parents Stephen Michael McAleer and Adelaide “Alice” (Brungardt) McAleer. Marie graduated from Girls Catholic High School in 1952 in Hays, Kansas. On February 13, 1954, Marie married LeRoy “Satch” Gerstner and together they raised two daughters, Barbara and Mary, and four sons, Mark, Joseph, Stephen and Michael. Marie was a beloved and nurturing mother to her children, whom she raised to love and respect God, family and friends. She supported and promoted her children’s Catholic education, and all levels of schooling, to help ensure each of her children was successful in pursuing their dreams. She traveled endless miles to attend her children’s sporting events, debate contests and music exhibitions, no matter how far away. She taught them to aspire for their very best and encouraged her children to reach for their loftiest ambitions.
Following in the footsteps of her own mother Alice, who was a nurse at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Marie had a passion to help the sick and elderly throughout her life. While raising her family, Marie also practiced a career in nursing which spanned 50 years. She cared for the critically ill at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Hays, Kansas, and later cared for children as a pediatric nurse at The Post Rock Pediatric Medical Center in Hays, Kansas until her retirement in 1993. Even after retirement, Marie continued her vocation as a nurse for the elderly in Las Vegas, Nevada, until 2001.
In 2004, Marie and LeRoy relocated to Surprise, Arizona, in retirement. She loved to adorn their home with her teapots collected from around the world, a library of books, family photos and personal treasures. Even more, Marie loved her four-legged friends, especially her little dachshunds, who were constant companions. From Spring through Autumn, Marie cherished time outdoors and tended to her garden brimming with flowers, hummingbirds and quail. She took breaks indoors to follow her favorite baseball teams, the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks. Once the holidays arrived, Marie would likely be found in the kitchen. She was a masterful baker, renown for her German bierocks and Christmas cookies, and she was proud to have shared time teaching her grandchildren her recipes. To the delight of family and friends, she baked thousands of Christmas cookies every year to send to eager recipients across the country.
Marie was a lifelong member of the Catholic Church. After devotedly caring for the love of her life, LeRoy, until his passing in 2007, Marie brought her beautiful voice to the church choir at the local parish at Our Lady of Lourdes/Prince of Peace in Sun City West. There she made so many treasured friends through music and the church community. Even as she struggled more in recent times, Marie woke up every day singing a song to greet her beloved team of caregivers. She brought happiness to her every day, even her last.
Marie was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, LeRoy Gerstner; her parents Stephen and Alice; brothers Kenneth and LaVerne; her father-in-law and mother-in-law Joseph and Sophie Gerstner. She is survived by her six children, Dr. Barbara Smith (and husband Burton), Mark (and wife Lisa), Joseph (and wife Cecelia), Stephen, Mary Fitzhugh (and husband Alan) and Michael (and spouse Mitch). She is also survived by 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren; her sisters-in-law Lilian Rohr and Ima McAleer; and her brother-in-law James Gerstner.
Rest in peace, Marie. You are forever loved by all whose lives you touched in your own special way.
Visitation will be on Thursday, May 18, 2023 from 2:00 - 4:00 pm, with Prayer Service at 4:00 pm, at Camino del Sol Funeral Chapel, 13738 W. Camino del Sol, Sun City West, AZ 85375. Funeral Mass will take place on Friday May 19, 2023 at 10:00 am at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church at 9728 W. Palmeras Drive, Sun City, AZ 85373. A luncheon with Marie’s family will follow at the church. Inurnment is scheduled for Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at 12:30 pm at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in North Phoenix. Flowers for the services are being provided by Sun City Florists at 14629 Del Webb Boulevard, Sun City, AZ 85351, (623) 974-0404. In lieu of flowers, donations in Marie's honor may be made to the Mayo Clinic or Happy Tails Dachshund Rescue (links provided below in the donations section). Best of all, maybe just enjoy a cup of tea for Marie. She would love that.