Catholic 02

Mary Lou (Rust) Nowak

November 22, 1936 ~ June 27, 2021 (age 84)


Mary Lou Nowak, (84), of Eau Claire, WI, died June 27, 2021, which was her son Michael's birthday & the Feast Day of "Our Lady of Perpetual Help", to whom Mary Lou was deeply devoted. She had been a resident of Grace Prairie Point the last 2.5 years. She passed while her hand was being held by one of her many dear nurses, Sherry. And also minutes after a couple of dear friends (Charles & Brigid Geroux) said prayers over her. Brigid's final words before they departed were, "We love you and God loves you. Stretch out your hand to Jesus and he will take you".

Mary Lou was born to Donald and Marian Rust on November 22, 1936. In 1958 she married her high school love, Hugh. Mary Lou had many talents. She was artistic. She loved to draw and paint. She also loved to bake and share her treats. Christmas time was her favorite time. She would spend hours painting beautiful Christmas cookies. She made the best Potato Salad and Funeral Brownies. She would make food for the elderly and others in need.

Mary Lou loved music and singing. She drew laughter and smiles. Family and friends loved her vivaciousness. She was notorious for sending cards for all occasions to family and friends.

In her younger years, she loved being a Candy Striper at the hospital. She was quick to give a helping hand and spread her joy. In 1956, she was voted "Miss Eau Claire".

She loved to remember her summers spent at Camp Manitou as a counselor. She spent many years of her life in customer service. She began helping in her parent's grocery store, O & M on Dodge St., and then at the "The Co-op". She became a wife and mother. As her children grew older, she became an employee of Economy Oil (Bauer Built) for many years, and for some time was their bookkeeper. She made many friends among the patrons throughout those years. Her smile was infectious. Mary Lou was known to have kind words and encouragement for all she met throughout her life.

Mary Lou loved to camp but Hughie did not. When the family did camp or stay in a cabin at the lake, she had to take her mixer so she could bake for the family.

Mary Lou and Hugh also fostered hearing impaired children during the school year, so they could attend the Hearing Impaired School in Eau Claire. Two young boys lived with the family until high school. Mary Lou was a mother to these boys in addition to her own four children. After Hughie's death, she met many new dear friends through the Healing Place. She loved to socialize. She then moved to Good Shepherd Apartments where she met more dear friends.

Mary Lou was a lifelong member of St. James the Greater Catholic Church. She volunteered her talents there throughout her life. She loved to iron/press the vestments and altar clothes. She cherished her Catholic Faith. She loved and honored the Catholic Church's Traditions. This sustained her through her life.

Mary Lou's last years at Grace Prairie Pointe were filled with many physical challenges. Then God sent her an Army of Angel Caregivers and new friends! She loved all her nurses and the employees at Grace. She also made friends through the years with the doctors, nurses and employees at Mayo Hospital in Eau Claire.

Our profound thanks to Heartland Hospice for the comfort and counseling they provided to Mary Lou and her family. Her daughters would like to express also their unfailing gratitude for all who cared for and helped their mother through the years when they could not. Mary Lou will be with each of you as life moves on. She will be saying her "Rosary" for you and will be your advocate.

An ending quote from Mary Lou to her Nurses and Caregivers, "You work so hard. Thank You, Love You."

Mary Lou is survived by her children, Nancy (Kelwin) Anderson, and Patricia (Wayne Schindler his son Jake) Nowak; grandchildren, Nicholas (fiancée Jess Cutler) Anderson, Kelsey (Trinia) Anderson, Luke (Kelsey) Anderson, Andrew Anderson, Jason Nowak, and David Nowak; great-grandchildren, Taylar, Dylan, Madalyn and Julia Anderson; brother, Richard (Patricia) Rust; sister-in-law's, Gloria Nowak, and Virginia Johnson; and many nieces, nephews and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Hugh Nowak; sons, Steven Nowak and Michael Nowak; and her parents, Donald and Marian Rust.

Visitation will begin at 9:30 am on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 1812 Lynn Ave. in Altoona. The Rosary will be recited by the St. James PCCW at 10:00 am. Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 10:30 am at the church, with Father Derek Sakowski officiating. Burial will take place in Sacred Heart Cemetery. Please join her family and friends after the burial to tell your favorite Mary Lou stories.
Lenmark-Gomsrud-Linn Funeral & Cremation Services is serving her family. To express condolences online, please visit obituaries at

To send flowers to Mary's family, please visit our floral store.


July 6, 2021

9:30 AM to 10:30 AM
St. Mary's Catholic Church
1812 Lynn Ave
Altoona, WI 54720

July 6, 2021

10:30 AM to 11:30 AM
St. Mary's Catholic Church
1812 Lynn Ave
Altoona, WI 54720

Graveside Service
July 6, 2021

11:45 AM
Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery
Omaha Street
Eau Claire, WI 54703

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