Mary Mutschler Vannoy passed away on June 10, 2017 in Grass Valley. She and her late husband, Eric, were long time residents of Downieville, until Mary moved to Cascades Residential Treatment facility in Grass Valley, 3 years ago.
Mary was born in St Cloud Minnesota in 1930 to Lawrence Valentine Mutschler and Leah Mildred (Luther), living there with her 6 brothers and sisters. At the age of 18, after graduating from high school, Mary moved to Reno to help her sister, Jean, care for Jean’s daughters: Cynthia, Leah, and Gretchen Geyer. She met and married Herb Warner Kinnell in 1950 and together they had 4 children: Jeff, Kim, Lori, and Shannon. She and Herb divorced in 1970.
In 1972 while working at Harold’s Club, Mary met Eric Vannoy. Mary counted money in the vault and Eric was a slot machine manager. She tried her hand as a 21 dealer but cried every time someone lost. Mary and Eric married and started looking for a place to retire in the future. Mary had spent many summers camping with her children and friends at Yuba Cabins outside Downieville. She and Eric started making weekend trips to Downieville and in 1984 they purchased a home. It was a fixer upper and they spent their days off working on the house, finally moving in sometime in the year 1985.
Shortly after, Mary’s mother, Mildred Leah Mutschler, suffering dementia, moved in with the couple. Mary and Eric cared for Mildred for 8 years, spending many years walking around town to keep up the health of Mary’s mother. Mary’s favorite spot to visit during her morning walks was the Marcantonio Bakery. Eric, having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, was soon using an electric scooter. Mary and Eric were often seen riding the scooter together around town. They were true love birds, very seldom being apart from each other. Eric died in 2007 leaving Mary devastated, and soon battling her own health issues, having been diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2013 Mary was diagnosed with dementia and shortly after, with the help of her two best friends, Debbie Wilson and Sandy Villarreal, moved to Cascades Residential. Until her passing, Mary talked fondly of her years in Downieville and her love for Eric.
Mary is survived by her her brother, John Mutschler of Southern CA, son, Kim Kinnell of Marysville, daughter, Lori Kinnell Prorok of Bellingham, WA, daughter-in-law Jane Miles Kinnell (Jeff) of Tucson AZ, 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Jean (Geyer), Elizabeth (Jirucha), Pauline (Knollenberg), Nancy (Taylor) brother Lawrence; and sons Jeff and Shannon.
Mary would want to be remembered as cheerfully walking through the streets of Downieville, holding hands with her one true love, Eric, or playing in her yard full of bright red poppies that she spent so many years tending.
There will be no funeral as Mary was a free spirit and left her desire to have her ashes spread back to this great earth, leaving only the sound of her sweet laughter. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Mary’s name to Western Sierra Residential Center (Joyce White) or the Downieville Lion’s Club.