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Marygay Grinsell

February 15, 1944 ~ March 3, 2020 (age 76)


Mary Gay Grinsell, “Marygay”, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, passed into the house of our Lord on March 3, 2020, after struggling several years with Alzheimer’s disease.

She was born in Long Beach Feb. 15, 1944, and lived in Compton. When she was three years old her parents, George and Melpha Pettersen and her big brother “Pete”decided to return to their native roots of Eureka where they had grown up and missed the good things the area had to offer, as well as family connections.

Marygay was a shy little girl, that was able to mask her shyness as the class clown and a dancer.  Her mother thought that dance would help her with her shyness and she was correct. She took to dance and the stage and was a beautiful dancer.  Her mother kept busy making costumes for each of her performances. In her ballerina slippers, she shined. Her sparkling eyes and beautiful smile could brighten any room.

She attended Lincoln Elementary School and met her future husband when she was 9 years old as they were enrolled in the “junior cotillion” to learn social skills and how to dance ballroom style. It was during this time that she noticed him, but he didn’t pay much attention to her. She went on to Eureka Junior High School and Eureka High School. At Eureka High, she was active in the band and had a lifelong appreciation of music and the arts.

In 1960 she reacquainted with Dennis and they began a lifetime of friendship and love. They were married in 1964 and celebrated their 56th anniversary a few weeks before her passing.

Prior to marriage, they found their “dream home”  with the view of the bay and ocean. They walked through the house and knew it was to be their home, the home that they would share, raise their family and watch the boats and ships come in and out of Eureka.  It would be where she would reside for the rest of her life.  It was common place for one or the other of them upon seeing a ship leaving the port to drive down to King Salmon or over to the north spit to watch the ship cross the bar and sail into the sunset. They also would join family and friends at the beach for afternoon or evening beach parties or picnics. They would be sitting around a campfire until the sun disappeared, or they ran out of wine or firewood.

While attending HSC she worked at JC Penny Co. and learned many lessons from her time working there - especially that the customer was always right and that a good work ethic was truly appreciated by her bosses and fellow workers. She gave up working for $1.25 an hour in exchange for Dennis’ offer of three and a half a day (3 meals and a half a bed). She always pitched in to help if asked. Dennis asked often.

Mary was always an active and involved mother. She was den mother for Cub Scouts, a coach for Little League (one day), was involved in PTA, and attended and encouraged her children’s school, sports, and music activities. Mary was a patriot, and a strong believer in anything patriotic. She wore our countries colors with pride and loyalty. She served on the Humboldt County Grand Jury for two years; her highlight being able to ride in a helicopter on a marijuana raid.

She loved the arts, and having been a musician herself, and encouraged her children and grandchildren to appreciate and enjoy music.  They always encouraged their children and grandchildren to pursue their dreams.

Mary took pride in her home and it showed!  The home overlooking the bay had impeccable yards thanks to her constant work. She loved to mow the lawn and the lawnmower was off limits to everyone else. Neighbors knew something was wrong whenever Dennis could be seen mowing. When he did mow, he somehow left a visual imperfection that she would notice,and she would have to fix to her satisfaction.

To her, family was everything. Her family ties included Pettersen, Cannam, Grinsell, and Fridley. and always felt blessed by her family’s love.  

She was predeceased by her parents and brother Pete and brother-in-law David. She is survived by her husband Dennis; son Christian and wife Laurie of Newport News, VA; daughter Karen Bunton and husband Heath of Redding. She leaves grandchildren Caitlin Grinsell and Mike Taylor (fiancé) of Newport News; Alexandra Grinsell and Nathan Deicher (fiancé) of Dallas, Texas; Jonathan and Nicole Grinsell of Okinawa, Japan; Sophie Bunton of San Luis Obispo; Millie Bunton and Gibson Bunton of Redding. She is also survived by sisters-in law Heidi Pettersen, Yusie Grinsell, and Diane Hardle(Dennis) and nieces Annelise (Pettersen) Glueck, and Chantique Grinsell, and nephews Hans Pettersen and Andrew Grinsell. She had many special friends including Ken and Linda Bareilles. They were always there for her.

The family would like to thank the staff at St. Joseph Hospital, Granada Nursing Home and Frye’s Care Home where she spent her final 4 months and the staff of the “Hospice of Humboldt” for their care of her during her final days.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Alzheimer’s Association, Hospice of Humboldt, or the charity of choice.

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