Cover photo for Mary Margaret Fuller's Obituary
Mary Margaret Fuller Profile Photo
1955 Mary 2024

Mary Margaret Fuller

October 20, 1955 — January 9, 2024

Appleton

The “girl with a curl,” Mary Van Zeeland Fuller, age 68, left us on January 9, 2024, the same way she led her life, with dignity, grace, and love. We will all miss her while holding her close in our collective memory. 

Mary was born on October 20, 1955, to Ione and Robert Van Zeeland. Her big brother, George, was her lifelong friend and protector. They lived on the second floor of a family grocery store on College Avenue and Mason Street in Appleton, Wisconsin (later known as the “Kirby Store”). She lost her father Bob when she was just a young child. Her life changed dramatically when her mother remarried. The story goes that Father Faulk of St. Thomas More Church, was responsible for Ione and Mary’s new dad-to-be, Arnie Brecklin, getting married. Arnie had lost his wife Eleanor and had three children of his own: Barbara, Mary Beth, and Bruce. Soon, Mary had a brand new, bigger family when her little brother Andy was born, and then it sadly shrank with the passing of Mary Beth. From this, the family grew stronger together, and Mary learned early to persevere through hardship and change. She also quickly understood that family is made up of more than blood.

Mary went to grade school at St Mary’s Catholic Church, graduated from Appleton West High School, and then graduated with a teaching degree from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. She spent a lot of time at Bear Lake, smoking, drinking, and breaking hearts with her pal Sherrie. She worked at Granny’s Truck Stop with her friend, Karen, and also had a pickle patch to make some cash. She had a son, but her heart broke when she had to give him up for adoption. In later years, however, she grew whole again when they found each other.

Mary worked the retail scene, managing a chain of stores found in every mall in Appleton, and thus created the fashionable wardrobe that kept her looking classy to the end. Mary gave up the drink and found recovery in a new and larger family where she met her first husband, Gene, and his family. Through this family she became a grandmother to Lindsey and a great-grandmother to Lindsey’s children, Lily and Gram. These relationships were especially dear to her.

Mary and Gene ran a successful business until retirement and divorce. It was shortly after that when Mary met, became friends with, and then partners in life with, Jack. Though life had twists and unexpected turns, hardships, and struggles, it is in her relationship with Jack that she found harmony and joy during the last chapter of her life.

Mary is survived by her partner, Jack Hendriksen; son, Mark (Louisa) Van Zeeland; and granddaughter Lindsey (Jamz) Jones. Her siblings also played an important role in her life: Barbara (David) Plamann, George (Robin) Van Zeeland, and Andy (Carolyn) Brecklin. She will be missed by her many nieces and nephews: Kristine (Robert) Compton, Aaron (Leslie) Plamann, Brett (Sydney) Brecklin, Jeff Brecklin, Caitlin Brecklin, Rosalyn Van Zeeland, Robert Van Zeeland, Seth (Mitzi) Brecklin, Dana (Joe Benassi) Brecklin, and Eric Brecklin. Along with her great-grandchildren, Lily, and Gram, and great-nephews and nieces: Nicholas, Eliza, Elliott, Evan, and Oliver. Mary is further survived by her chosen family of friends.

She was preceded in death by her father, Robert Van Zeeland; mother, Ione (Williamsen Van Zeeland) Brecklin; second father, Arnold Brecklin; sister, Mary Beth Brecklin; brother, Bruce Brecklin; and niece, Elizabeth Plamann.

A celebration of Mary’s life will be held on Saturday, January 27th from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at Van Zeeland Nursery (2600 North Casaloma Drive, Appleton). Mary fought illness for most of her life and we will celebrate our memories of Mary and console each other with the fact that she is now at peace.

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to the American Diabetes Foundation (www.diabetes.org) in Mary's memory.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, January 27, 2024

3:00 - 6:00 pm (Central time)

Van Zeeland Nursery & Landscape

2600 N Casaloma Drive, Appleton, WI 54913

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