Cover photo for Mary Pester's Obituary
Mary Pester Profile Photo
1936 Mary 2021

Mary Pester

October 22, 1936 — September 24, 2021

Mary Lynn Pester, 84, of Crookston, MN, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, September 24, 2021 with her husband and family at her side, under the care of hospice after a long battle with cancer.

Mary chose joy, and to be joyful, as her life's motto. She shared that joy with those around her and extended that joyfulness throughout her cancer treatments.

Mary was born on October 22nd, 1936 to Harvey and Bernice (Scarr) Wilder in Crookston, MN. Mary was baptized and confirmed at the First Covenant Church in Crookston. She attended Eugene Field School for grades 1-6 and graduated from Central High School in 1954. During her high school years she was a cheerleader and participated in many other school activities. One of her fondest memories was playing and marching in the Central High drum and bugle corps.

Mary married Ralph Pester, her high school sweetheart, on June 21st, 1958 at the Presbyterian Church in Crookston. Their marriage was blessed with four children: Jeffrey, Mark, Suzanne, and LeAnne.

Mary called Crookston her home for her entire life, with a short time spent in Minneapolis shortly after high school. Her first job was at the local State Farm Management office.

Mary had a long history of volunteering throughout her lifetime. She shared her time and talents managing the RiverView Limited Addition Gift Shop as a volunteer for over 25 years and served with the hospital auxiliary.  She also played piano for the school choir and local service organizations.  She was very involved at the Presbyterian Church as a Sunday School teacher, Deacon, piano player, choir and bell choir member, and a member of the Ladies' Aid.

Ralph and Mary spent many wonderful times downhill skiing with friends in Colorado, Montana, and Minnesota; and many summer vacations at the lake, with Big Sand Lake being her favorite. Recent winters were spent in the beautiful Arizona sunshine.

Mary will be remembered for her unapologetic spirit, love of political discussion, strong advocacy, generous heart, and steadfast faith. Mary was an excellent farmer's wife and a wonderful mother. She worked hard raising their children, bringing meals to the field during harvest, and making her home an inviting place where all were welcome. She loved music, playing the piano, and attending her kids’ and grandkids’ athletic events, (and QVC). Mary’s greatest joys were her family, especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who lit up her spirits and brought much joy into her life.

Mary is survived by her husband and best friend of 63 years, Ralph; her sons, Jeffrey Pester & Christine Sorenson of Minneapolis and Mark & Darcy Pester of Crookston; her daughters, Suzanne Niemi of Anchorage, AK and LeAnne & Scott Wilcox of Fargo, ND; four grandchildren: Carmen & Chad Knutson, Christian & Sarah Pester, Erik Niemi, and Kristin & Gabe Woodworth; four great-grandchildren: Chandler, Clayton, and Conley Knutson and Arlie Pester; sister, Kathy (Steve) Woxland; and brother, David (Pat) Wilder. She was preceded in death by her parents, Bernice & Harvey Wilder; parents-in-law, Charles and Etha Pester; and brother, Jack Wilder.

The funeral service for Mary Lynn Pester will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, October 1, 2021, in the First Presbyterian Church in Crookston with The Rev. Greg Isaacson, officiating. Visitation will be in the Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home on Thursday from 5-7:00 p.m., with a 7:00 p.m. prayer service and time for sharing of memories. Visitation will continue at the Church on Friday for one hour prior to the funeral. Memorials may be given in Mary's name to Hospice of the Red River Valley or the RiverView Foundation.

The service will be livestreamed by logging on to, going to the bottom of Mary’s obituary page and clicking on the prompt to view.

Online registry and messages of condolence may be made at

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, September 30, 2021

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home

615 S Minnesota St, Crookston, MN 56716

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Prayer Service

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Starts at 7:00 pm (Central time)

Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home

615 S Minnesota St, Crookston, MN 56716

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Friday, October 1, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

First Presbyterian Church

510 N Broadway, Crookston, MN 56716

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