Mary J. Slater


MARY JEANETTE SLATER, age 88, of Worthington, died Saturday, July 11, 2020, at Crossroads Care Center in Worthington. She was born August 16, 1931 to Fred and Bessie Apel. She grew up on the family farm north of Worthington. Mary’s younger years were spent attending school at the Little Red Schoolhouse, playing softball with her cousins, playing with her dolls and china dishes. She graduated from Worthington High School in 1949. Afterwards, she attended nurses’ training in Canton, SD. Upon returning to Worthington, she worked as a nurses’ aid at the hospital.

A young patient, Jim Slater, was in a car accident landing him in the hospital for seventy days in traction. Upon his discharge from the hospital, he asked Mary for a date. As they say, the rest is history!

Jim and Mary were married on November 21, 1951. To this union, two daughters were born, Barbara (1952) and Vickie (1953).

For forty years, Mary worked alongside Jim on the family farm. Her gardens were bountiful. Ask her daughters who had to pick all the beans, peas, and other vegetables. Mary loved brightening the farm place with colorful flower beds. She even created a pond complete with goldfish and a pump for a waterfall in the backyard. It was artfully decorated with rocks and flowers. Her favorite flowers were roses, creating a large rose garden on the farm. Upon moving to town in retirement, she brought eight rose bushes with her that are still blooming today.

Even though cooking and baking for men kept her busy, Mary found time to be a Sunday School teacher, school PTA president and even chaperoning a senior class trip in 1967 to Minneapolis one spring on a school bus with only Mary, Jim and the bus driver as chaperones for twenty five seniors.

Mary inherited her father’s love of fishing. Jim and Mary spent many hours fishing locally and taking trips to the Lake of the Woods and flying into Canada with friends in hopes of catching the big ones!!

Decorating for holidays was always an adventure. Mary would find something in a magazine she just had to try. No holiday was left out. One of her holiday traditions was creating ginger bread houses and scenes. For twenty years the grandchildren couldn’t wait to get to Grandma’s house to see the new creation at Christmas time.

Mary was sports minded. She taught the girls to play softball, throw a football and ice skate. She loved digging snow caves or building a snow house with the girls. Her bowling career spanned sixty years. She bowled in leagues in Wilmont & Worthington. Traveling to State and National tournaments was part of the adventure. Mary’s love of bowling created many life time friendships. She also enjoyed bowing with Jim in couples’ leagues over the years. The trophy collection she accumulated confirmed her bowling accomplishments.

She was a member of the Worthington Country Club for fifty years. Learning to golf and then studying it closely to improve her skills was her goal. Among the many friendships golf afforded her was the group of ladies that would travel to Omaha, NE yearly for early golfing. This group affectionately called her their “adopted” Mom. Fun was had by all on these trips.

Shopping was a passion. Mary loved to explore stores of all kinds and malls (while Jim waited with other husbands). The highlight for many years was shopping on Black Friday in Sioux Falls. It was a well-orchestrated excursion with daughters, granddaughters and even a great-granddaughter. Four generations looking for bargains!

Jim and Mary loved to travel. They would take in local sights as well as visiting many states including Alaska and Hawaii, Hannele Torpa of Helsinki, Finland joined our family for the school year 1969-70 as a foreign exchange student. She was able to return in the later years for visits with “Mom and Dad”.

Finally, Mary was a woman of faith. She read the Bible cover to cover, not once, but twice! She was quiet, but her determination and caring were evident to all who knew her.

Mary is survived by her husband, Jim Slater, Worthington; two daughters, Barbara Rokahr (Rich Froiland) of Ralston, NE; and Vickie (Steve) Menke of North Mankato, MN; grandchildren, Jennifer (Nate) Skalsky, Laura (Ian Heritage), Kori Rokahr, Shane (Makayla) Rokahr; eight great- grandchildren; three sisters-in-law, (Arlene Schlichte, Esther Becker and Minnie Apel); and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by an infant daughter; parents, Fred and Bessie Apel; and a brother, Kenneth Apel.

Visitation will be from 4:30 – 7:00 pm Monday, July 20, at the Dingmann Funeral Home in Worthington. Visitation also one hour prior to the service at the church on Tuesday. Funeral Mass will be 10:30 am Tuesday, July 21, at St. Mary Catholic Church, in Worthington, officiated by Father James Callahan & Deacon Vern Behrends. Burial will be in the Worthington Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Memorials are preferred to the Worthington Hospice Cottage or the Minnesota Services to the Blind.

To live stream the funeral service please visit

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