Our mom, Gracemary, was born on April 17, 1917 and died at her home in Watervliet, Michigan on
October 7, 2018.
Mom's parents were Richard and Mary Wuerst, who raised mom and her sister, Carol, in Chicago,
Mom graduated from Alvernia High School in 1935 and went on to earn a bachelor's degree from
Rosary College (now Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois) in 1939. She then attended Loyola
University Medical School in Chicago, where, as the only female graduate of the class of 1943, she not
only received an M.D. degree but also met her future husband, Robert Zirpoli. Following a year of
internship at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, the newly married couple moved to Topeka, Kansas,
where dad completed his training in Psychiatry. Mom and dad then returned to the Chicago area (now
with two young children in tow) and settled in Lincolnwood, where three more children were born (not
all at once).
Throughout their married life, mom quietly supported dad while providing exemplary, nurturing
love and care to us kids, for whom she also functioned as doctor in residence. The fact that we are still
alive is a testimony to the success of her labors! And besides, what other mother ever referred to salad
tongs as forceps?
Mom enjoyed her time in Lincolnwood. She was a Cub Scout den mother. She volunteered at the
Regina Dominican High School library and enjoyed occasional get togethers with her “club girls” from
Rosary College. She and Dad relished weekends spent together (often with friends) at the Drake Hotel
(with its Cape Cod Room) or at Lake Lawn Lodge in Lake Geneva. And believe it or not, she and dad
actually won first prize at the Queen of All Saints Church annual corned beef and cabbage dinner: a
brand new Cadillac!
Mom loved spending summers on beautiful Paw Paw Lake. After dad retired this became their
permanent residence. Over the years they attended many enjoyable dinner dances at the Paw Paw Lake
Yacht Club. She also became quite the crossword puzzle enthusiast and such an avid reader that the
local libraries often found themselves scrambling to keep up with her requests for more books.
Shortly after moving permanently to Michigan, mom developed an illness called Notre Dame
Football Mania. She rarely missed a televised game, during which she offered plenty of advice
(delivered in no uncertain terms), to those young men on the field. And woe to them if they didn't
follow it! Happily, she was finally cured of this pestilence with a new antibiotic.
Most importantly, Mom was a lifelong devout Roman Catholic who lived and shared her faith
through example, and when necessary, she used words.
Mom was preceded in death by her husband, her sister and her son-in-law, Paul Menkhaus. She is
survived by her children: Dr. Robert (Lynda) Zirpoli Jr. of Billings, Montana, Patti Zirpoli of Ingleside,
Illinois, Cathy (Dave) Wheeler of Watervliet, Michigan, Christine Menkhaus of Granger Indiana, and
Dr. Mary Zirpoli of Kalamazoo, Michigan, by her grandchildren: Gina (Bruce) Woodford, Robert
Zirpoli III, Christopher (Ashley) Menkhaus, Carrie (David) Lu, Joshua (Heidi) Wheeler, Dr. Joseph
(Beth) Wheeler, Jordan (Andrew) Parker, and by numerous smart and good-looking greatgrandchildren.
Visitation will be held at Hutchins Funeral Home, 209 S. Main Street, Watervliet, Michigan from 6
to 8PM, with Rosary recitation at 7:30PM, on Wednesday, October 10th. Mass of Christian Burial will be
celebrated at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 157 Lucinda Lane, Watervliet, Michigan on Thursday,
October 11th at 11AM.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to: Caring Circle Hospice at Home, 269-429-7100,
caring-circle.org, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, 877-637-2955, mercyhome.org., or St. Joseph
Catholic Church, 269-463-5470, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mercy Home for Boys and Girls