Mary Catherine Rukavina


Services for Mary Catherine Rukavina, 88, of Grand Rapids, Minnesota will be held Saturday, Sept. 25 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Wayne at 10:30 a.m.  

Catherine died at her home in Grand Rapids on Aug. 16, 2021, with several of her family with her.  There will be a graveside service with her immediate family in Chisholm, Minnesota at a later date.  

Mary Catherine Gross was born March 22, 1934 in Wisner to William and Frances Gross.  She was baptized, received her first Holy Communion, and was confirmed in St. Joseph’s Church in Wisner. She attended Wisner High School and graduated with the class of 1951.

Cathy took Normal Training in high school and graduated with her two-year teaching certificate. She taught for a short period of time at District 44, south of Wisner. While taking a summer course at Wayne State Teachers College in Wayne, she met and dated Norman Roeber. In 1954, Catherine and Norman were married at St. Joseph’s Church in Wisner. To that marriage six children were born — Daniel, Terri, Thomas, Stanley, Jason, and Carter. While they were living on a farm near Carroll, Norman died in a farm accident in 1961. Cathy then moved to Wayne to raise her family.  She decided to get her teaching degree, majoring in history, and received her BAE in 1967 from Wayne State Teachers College.

She and her children moved to Chisholm, Minnesota, where she taught history and social studies for eleven years and inspired students to higher learning. It was while teaching in Chisholm she met George Rukavina, a fellow teacher. After a whirlwind courtship of board games and cards at her kitchen table, Cathy and George were married in 1969.  Together, they enjoyed raising the kids to adulthood, and found time to participate in square dancing and the Iron Range Historical Society. George passed away in 1992.  

Cathy then started working full time at the Fingerhut Corporation in their telemarketing department, first in Eveleth, Minnesota and then in 1995, to escape the North Country winters, she moved to Tampa, Florida, and continued to work for the Fingerhut Corporation. Cathy retired from full time work in 2004.  In 2005, she moved to a retirement apartment in Onley, Maryland, to become the grandmother baby sitter for Carter’s children, a job she thoroughly enjoyed.

Survivors include her six children, Daniel and Jewel (Tel Aviv, Israel), Terri and Phil (Hibbing, Minnesota), Thomas (Yarmouth, Maine), Stanley and Robyn (Grand Rapids, Minnesota), Jason, (Austin, Texas), and Carter and Rebecca, (Evanston, Illinois); 16 grandchildren; Daniel’s children – Miriam, Bentzie, Naftalie, Tzippy, Itzy, and Simi; Terri’s children – Joe and Patrick, Tom’s son – Graham; Stanley children – Angela, Amber, Luke, and Zach; Jason’s son – Calvin; Carter’s children – Trudy  and Oscar; and 39 great-grand children; two sisters,  Liz (Leonard) Jindra, Norfolk, and Bridget (Howard) McNiff, Cook; five brothers; Joe (Rita) Longmont, Colorado, Michael, Dennison, Iowa, Patrick and Steve (Debby), both of Wayne and John, Lincoln; anda host of nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husbands; Norman (1961), and George (1992); her parents, William (1987) and Frances (1971) Gross; one sister, Rita (1991), and four brothers; William (1994), Leo (2002), Dominic (1975), and Gerald 2007; two sisters-in-law, Michael’s wife, Donna (2001), and Patrick’s wife, Mary Jo (2017).