Bob Statz

Sometimes during a lifetime, a person may not fully realize their impact upon others. Such might be the case with Mille Lacs local Mary Vanderwall, (Killian)who recently passed away.

She made a positive impact on many in the lakes area, and one in particular, Shane Eastman, wrote the Messenger to expresses his feelings for this wonderful lady.

Below are some kind words from Eastman about his good friend, Mary:

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mary Vanderwall (Killian) as I scrolled the obituaries of the Mille Lacs Messenger. Mary was someone I always looked up to when I was a young golfer in the Mille Lacs area since she was one of the most talented female golfers around.

From a very young age, I was fortunate to have caught Mary’s attention. She would ask me how my high school meets were going, what tournaments I entered and what my future college plans might be.

After college, I had the privilege to see Mary participate in the area women’s leagues and tournaments, and I was even lucky enough to have played in a few scrambles with her.

My fondest memory of Mary was when we held “The Longest Day of Golf,” a golf marathon at Mille Lacs Golf Resort (today, Northwood Hills) one summer day, where all moneys earned went to cancer research. My brother Joe and I played over 120 holes each for the marathon, and Mary was our biggest fan that day, making sure her group stopped everything to allow us to play through and keep up our insane pace.

But that’s who she was – one of my biggest fans, always interested in how my game was, how my high school and college golf careers were progressing and how I was doing in my post-collegiate tournaments.

Mary was a great ambassador for women’s golf in central Minnesota. I can recall seeing her playing in multiple women’s leagues or women’s days at multiple Mille Lacs Lake area courses. I played over a dozen tournaments at area courses myself, and many times I saw Mary in the field as a competitor.

Mary was also involved in some Minnesota Golf Association (MGA) amateur women’s events.

She always had a smile and a hug for me, even if we hadn’t seen each other for years.

It’s only fitting to see she ended up in her twilight years living in the golf mecca of Florida.

I’m sure she’s playing some golf in heaven looking down on me.

Mary definitely had a profound impact on me as a golfer, but more-so as a person.

I never saw her without a smile.

It was an absolute pleasure knowing her, and she will be missed.

- Shane M. Eastman, Onamia High class of ’92, former Garrison resident and Mille Lacs Golf Resort member.

(1) comment


Reading this made me tear up... a lot! Mary Vanderwaal was my mom. Seeing her always through the lens of a daughter, I never considered what she meant to anyone other than her family. I was so touched to read the comments by Mr. Eastman. It really meant the world to me & my sisters. My mom did indeed love her golf! I knew she was good based on all of the tournaments she placed in, plus she reminded me every time I golfed with her! She did play into her 90's and was looking forward to golfing again after she recovered from her recent little set-back. We all were. I saw her last in December when she came to AZ to celebrate her 90th birthday with my sister & I. She looked amazing, was doing well & joined me for a "Lady Putters" event in our community. It's 18 holes of putting & points are given according to the number of putts it takes to get in the hole. Of course she got a hole in one. I did not. She was an amazing lady & she is dearly missed.

I have inherited her golf clubs & was hoping that she had left a little of her talent in them. Apparently she did not.

Thank you so much, Shane Eastman for your very kind words. I know she's looking down on us right now & telling me to keep my head down & stand closer to the ball. I'm sure she's telling you something too!

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