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Vi DeMars , one of many exceptional Phillips matriarchal leaders of her generation has died

vi demarsBy Crystal Trautnau Winschitl and Harvey Winje

Viola (Vi) Mary DeMars passed away at the age of 91 years on April 29th, 2014. This is a huge loss for the Phillips West Neighborhood. Vi was a 20+ year resident of 2615 Park Avenue Building and a very active member of the Greater Phillips Neighborhood for decades. Vi and her family lived north of Franklin Avenue for decades in the portion of the Community now called Ventura Village during which time she was an very active member of Phillips Neighborhood Improvement Association. Vi has been active in Phillips West since its inception up until February 2011 when a stroke prompted her to move to the MN Masonic Nursing Home in Bloomington for special care.

Vi was a ‘fixture’ at Phillips West Neighborhood Community Meetings. Many neighbors know her because she staffed the sign in table at all neighborhood meetings. She was very active in the mid 1980’s effort to save the Phillips Community Center swimming pool and supported similar efforts starting in 2005. She also held campaign fundraisers and worked to get a lot of our current and former officials elected. Vi will be greatly missed by the Phillips West Neighborhood Organization Board and by many members of the entire Community.

For over five decades there has been a large ensemble of exceptional elders in the Phillips Community. Many of the most staunch and persevering have passed away. Many f hem were men; but Phillips seemed to have an unusual amount of matriarchal elders each of whom had unique characteristics and practiced their community commitment in as unique ways whether phone calling, cooking, running meetings, lobbying, caring for their own children and the children of others and on the list could go. Vi was one of those who was always there helping to do what needed to be done. At some risk of exclusion, these names come readily to mind Signe Anderson, Mabel Batcher, Juanita Christenson, Helen Gatton, Rafala Green, Ruby Ingenhutt, Muriel Simmons, Margaret Spangler, Elayne Stately, Maxine Tykwinski, Elvera Wetternach , Winona Wilson and there are many more. Each had inherent, individual characteristics and ways in which they served, but similar in all was their dedication and perseverance to make life better for those around them within family, next door neighbors or across the neighborhood.

Here is a new cadre’ of women who have taken up the work of those now gone and they are the stronger and better for having had these mentors.

Vi was amongst them for decades and we truly thank her for her selfless contributions to make the neighborhood a better place! Funeral arrangements were directly across the street from 2615 Park at Thomson-Dougherty Historic Funeral Home. Vi‘s funeral was held on Monday May 5th at the Church of Saint Albert the Great at 11 a.m. Many neighbors came to honor Vi and it was a beautiful service. Interment was at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Mpls.

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