Mary Anne Heidkamp (nee Dunsheath), who lived at Brookdale Plaza (formerly Holly Court Terrace) in Oak Park from 2001 to 2011, died on May 15, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, after a long decline caused by dementia.

Born on Sept. 23, 1923 in Chicago to Leroy and Louise Dunsheath, she received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from De Paul University in 1945 and married Herbert Heidkamp, a university classmate, on June 29, 1946. 

In 1947, Martha, the first of their 12 children was born. She was followed by Mary, Michael, Ann, Andrew, Larry, Tony, Joanne, Rosemary, Peter, Rita and Thomas. As the family grew, she became a stay-at-home mother and Herb worked in his family’s real estate agency. They lived on the north side of Chicago throughout the 1950s but when Herb took a new job selling Collier’s Encyclopedias, the family moved to New Jersey in 1960. 

In 1963, he was asked to establish Collier’s sales offices throughout southern and east Africa. Herb went ahead of the family for a few months to establish the business and find housing and schools for the family. In the meantime, Mary Anne stayed in New Jersey arranging to sell the house and making travel arrangements for a month-long voyage to South Africa on two ships. 

The family lived in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 1963 to 1968 and enjoyed many camping trips to explore the magnificent natural sites throughout southern Africa, including Victoria Falls, Table Mountain, the Drakensberg Mountains and the beaches of Natal and the Cape provinces. Trips to Kruger National Park and other game reserves provided up-close experiences with lions, elephants, giraffes, zebra, baboons, impalas, buffalo, hippos, rhinos and wildebeest. 

Mary Anne organized the move back to the States in 1968 when Herb’s business took the family to the Boston area. Her 12th child, Thomas, was born five months later. In 1981 with all the children on their own except Thomas, Herb and Mary Anne moved back to the North Side of Chicago, where they had both grown up, and re-established connections with family and many friends in the area. 

Herb died in 1985 and Mary Anne continued living in the family home, remaining active in her parish and neighborhood association. She was an avid reader and a Bulls fan. She loved the reunions with her children and the growing number of grandchildren, which were held every two years in various parts of the country. 

Health issues required the move to Holly Court Terrace in Oak Park in 2001 where she would have the close assistance of her daughter, Mary, a longtime Oak Park resident. Her final three years were in assisted living in Milwaukee where her daughter, Ann was able to provide support. 

A Mass of Christian Burial was held at Ascension Church in Oak Park on May 23 with her 12 sons, daughters, their spouses and many of her 29 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren in attendance from all over the country and England. 

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