Obituary: Mary Sue Mulholland

Mary Sue Mulholland
Provided Photo
Mary Sue


December 14, 1943 – August 21, 2021

Mary Sue Mulholland, beloved wife, mother, sister, and friend, passed away on Saturday, August 21, 2021. In her multi-year fight with cancer, she showed us exactly how strong she was; she faced each and every challenge with grace and continued to love those around her beautifully, even when she was suffering so much herself.

Mary was born on December 14, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois to Lawrence and Virgina (Pickett) Rettinger. She and her family moved to Winston-Salem, NC in 1954 where she lived for the remainder of her childhood and graduated from R.J. Reynolds High School. She went on to Rex Hospital School of Nursing in Raleigh, NC where she became a registered nurse; she and many of her “Rex Sisters” have remained life-long friends. After graduating from nursing school, she and two friends sought adventure and moved to San Diego where they found jobs as nurses.

In San Diego, Mary met the love of her life, Jim, at the “Downwind” Officers Club near the North Island Naval Air Station where Jim was stationed. In perhaps the greatest pick-up line ever uttered at the Downwinds, Jim approached Mary with a half-full pitcher of beer that needed protecting while he used the WC. “Will you please hold my beer?” he asked. She said, “yes” and the rest, as they say, is history. Mary and Jim were able to celebrate 53 years together on July 27, 2021 with a champagne toast.

Mary was the matriarch in a family who adored her – starting with her children, their spouses, and then five grandchildren. She was known as “Grandma Mary” to many, including several who adopted her as their grandma. For her grandchildren, she hosted an annual “Kids Camp” each summer, put on many Valentines parties, took them on fun field trips, bought them matching Christmas pajamas, made them beautiful scrapbooks, gave endless hugs, and loved each of them to pieces.

Mary built community in all the places she and Jim lived – Amherst (MA), Houston (TX), and finally in Colorado: Littleton, Denver, and Granby, where she lived her last 17 years in the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. Her love of life, her kindness and care for other people, her generosity, and her tremendous creative output resulted in a legion of friends and family who are now both mourning her loss on earth and celebrating her new life in heaven.

Mary was a woman of Christian faith and she served God by serving those around her. If you knew Mary well, chances are you have enjoyed treats or a meal (or dozens) that she made for you and you have something special she made – from hand-painted Christmas ornaments to children’s clothes (princess dresses were a favorite) to one of her masterful quilts.

Her circles of friends include many with whom she shared a love of quilting. She made dozens of quilts over the past couple decades, including some that won prizes at quilt shows and many that she gifted to those she loved. Many of her happiest moments were in fabric stores, at quilting retreats among friends, and simply stitching away on her sewing machine. As a good friend told her when she was sick, “You’re like the wonderful quilts you’ve made – you give warmth, comfort, beauty, and color to our lives.”

Our world is a little lonelier right now without Mary here with us, but we celebrate that she is with Jesus and take comfort in these words: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5: 1 NLT).

Mary was preceded in death by her parents Lawrence and Virginia Rettinger, brother Larry Rettinger, and brother-in-law Don Jefferson. She is survived by her husband James of Granby, CO; her children and their spouses, Jennifer and Matt Douglas of Arvada, CO and David and Cami Mulholland of Denver, CO; her grandchildren, Noah, Linda Grace, and Hannah Douglas, Amelia and Finley Mulholland; her sister, Mildred Jefferson of Kernersville, NC; her nieces and nephews, Joe and Mitzi Rettinger of Cedar Park, TX, Kim and Robert Hittell of Kernersville, NC, Carissa and Rob Reedy of Cedar Park, TX, and Kevin and Hope Jefferson of Mocksville, NC; and too many second cousins and great nieces and nephews to name.

A celebration of life in honor of Mary will be held on Friday, September 24th at 11am at Lord of the Valley Lutheran Church in Granby; a casual lunch reception will follow. Remote access to the service will be available by Zoom (email for the link). In lieu of flowers, Mary requested donations to one of the following organizations that were close to her heart: Peaks and Pines Quilt Guild Scholarship Fund (P.O. Box 1944, Granby, CO 80446) or Lord of the Valley Lutheran Church Memorial Fund (P.O. Box 843, Granby, CO 80446).

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