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Anna Gaffrey

Anna E. Gaffrey, age 94, of New Rockford, ND, passed away June 1, 2013, at Sanford Health in Fargo, ND.

Anna Eva Marhula was born June 20, 1918, to Frank and Mary (Jamelka) Marhula on their homestead south of Roosevelt, MN, near the Lake of the Woods. Anna was the 3rd of eight children. She spent her early years on the homestead, but moved to Roosevelt when in the 3rd grade. Growing up in the twenties and thirties, she was very much involved in family affairs. She was a virtual encyclopedia of childhood stories and loved to reminisce on life in the old days, including sewing, ironing, cooking, washing clothes, scrubbing floors, washing/drying dishes, feeding the animals, milking cows, making cottage cheese, churning butter, separating, bottling and delivering cream, butter and milk (8 cents/quart) to the neighbors, planting, hoeing and harvesting the garden, carrying wood, canning fruits and vegetables, wandering through the woods picking wild berries which the family used for jams, jellies, pies and wine. Anna also helped her mother can chickens and make homemade noodles and chicken soup for the family and for neighbors with an illness in the family. At age 16, Anna moved to Crookston, MN, where she was initially employed as a housekeeper for a local realtor. Several months later she worked a special evening event in a local drug store and her work ethic so impressed the owner that he immediately hired her full time. Her new job (6 days and 60 hours/week for $40.00 per month and tips of from 3 to 5 cents) consisted of ordering product, stocking shelves, and managing both the soda fountain and the check-out.

Anna met her future husband, Joseph A. Gaffrey, a UND engineering student, on a blind date to the Engineers' Ball. Their Crookston wedding plans were interrupted when Joe was called to active military service in early 1942, and stationed in Bloomfield, NJ, where they were married on May 21, 1942. Joe's assignment as an engineer with the signal corps made nomads of the couple who moved five times in their first year of marriage. After Joe’s discharge from the military in 1946, the couple moved to New Rockford, ND where they raised a brood of 10 children from a livelihood in the grocery business. In addition to her homemaking activities, Anna was active in her church circle and in the Legion Auxiliary. She was also an avid antique collector and guru, and a generous, life-long supporter of her community.

Anna is survived by nine children, Virginia (Bob Murphy) Gaffrey-Murphy, Roseville, MN, John, Fargo, Rod (Mary June), Deadwood, SD, Bob (Joyce), Cando, ND, Joy (Maurice) McCormick, Fargo, Richard, Fargo, Mary (Frank Knier) Gaffrey-Knier, Fargo, Gerard, Grand Forks, ND and JoAnn (fiancée Scott Edinger) Gaffrey, New Rockford; 18 grandchildren; 10 great grandchildren; dozens of nieces and nephews; two “adopted? farm kids, Bernadette Clancy formerly of Bordulac, ND and Marty Schwartzbauer formerly of Fessenden, ND; two “adopted? foreign exchange students, Mart Schenker from Switzerland and Waldimer “Bachi? Barnetzky from Uruguay; two brothers, Adolph, Baudette, MN, and Stanley, San Francisco, CA.

Anna was preceded in death by her parents, Frank and Mary Marhula: two brothers, Ernest and Rudolph; three sisters, Sylvia Mercil, Lydia Dirkx and Emma Sneed; her husband, Joseph, who died on January 11, 1983 and one son, Kevin, who died on May 2, 2003.

Anna requested that memorials be sent to the donor’s favorite charity or to either the New Rockford Fire Department or the New Rockford Ambulance Service, zip 58356.

PRAYER SERVICE: Wednesday at 7PM, St. John's Catholic Church

FUNERAL SERVICE: St. John's Catholic Church, New Rockford, ND

DATE AND TIME: Thursday, June 6, 2013 at 10:30 AM

INTERMENT: St. John's Catholic Cemetery, New Rockford, ND

Posted Condolences:

(Scroll down to send a condolence)



Name: Marty Schwarzbauer

Date: 12.30.15

Message: Bob and all the Gaffrey family

I just now saw this on internet and want to send my thoughts and prayers to all of you.

I have nothing but fond memories of my time living with your family for my freshman year at St James. Joe and Anna were an amazingly positive, loving, and generous couple and I'm sure inspired you to the same. They - and you - helped a desperately shy and insecure kid become far more self confident and assertive.

Forever thank you, Anna, Joe, and Gaffrey family.



Name: Food For The Poor, Inc

Date: 07/8/2013

Message: On behalf of Food For The Poor, we would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Anna Gaffrey, who was a true friend of ours and of the poor whom we serve. Anna's support has brought lifesaving help and hope to the poorest of the poor, which is a legacy to be honored. May God's peace be with you all during this time of separation.


Name: Joelyn (Bymoen) Scriba

Date: June 13, 2013

Message: My sympathy in the loss of your Mother. She was such a nice lady. During these later years we would have conversations when we coincidently met at the local cafe. Your parents were such a handsome couple. Special greetings to Virginia.


Name: Jean Laber

Date: June 11, 2013

Message: Gaffrey Family,

Thoughts and prayers to all of you, I too have fond memories of Anna, staying overnight at the Gaffrey house, Mary and I wanted so to be in the same class when we were sent to Central in the third grade, but as luck would have it we were in different class rooms. God Bless and keep the memories alive.

Jean and Dan Laber


Name: Ted Seiler

Date: 6-09-2013

Message: To the Great Gaffrey Family,I am sending sincere condolences to all of you for Anna and the passing of a great woman. I can easily shed tears for all the ups and down she endured as my second Mom....but then we were just kids right?I want to think at this moment of all the great things she shared with all of us which was always unconditional love and a place in her heart which was always a welcome doorway. Learning from our elders and their gentle touch is our chance to mirror their lives. Surely Anna will always have a place in heaven and in my heart.Then of course there were times when Anna's fist response to me was "But Teddy" and then I knew it was time to back down. My response to that at this moment is "But Anna" I learned what you taught me and I will always have you in my heart.Bless your Soul.

On behalf of the Bill & Josephine Seiler Family

Ted Seiler


Name: Judy Thorn

Date: June 9, 2013

Message: Dear Gaffrey cousins,I am so sorry for your loss.  I fondly remember a couple of Thanksgivings spent in New Rockford, and your mom's wonderful cooking!  The four Marhula sisters are together again.

Love and prayers,Judy (Sneed) Thorn


Name: Charmain & Steve Romanoski

Date: 6/8/13

Message: Dear Gaffrey family,

We're so sorry for your loss. May you find comfort in the many memories you have.  She touched so many with her kind smile and generous care and concern for all. She was truly amazing to raise a large brood as you put it and to love God for the life he gave her.

God Bless you.


Name: Tom Sneed

Date: June 7, 2013

Message: Dear Gaffrey family, so saddened to hear of your Mom and my Aunt Anna Marhula Gaffrey just 11 months after the loss of her sister and my Mom, Emma Marhula Sneed.  I am sorry I could not be there for her service.  I fondly remember driving our Uncle Rudolph out to New Rockford back in 1977 for a visit and then from there to Roosevelt where he orchestrated the 1977 Marhula Reunion.  Tom


Name: Sara wick

Date: 6/6/13

Message: Anna was a remarkable woman and fondly remembered by the Wick family. Her radiant smile, hearty laugh, boundless energy, love of antiques and welcoming demeanor will be remembered long after her passing. May you find comfort in knowing her love of life touched many in her 94 years. She will be missed.


Name: jeanne tews

Date: 6-6-13

Message: Gaffrey's: So sorry for the lost of your mother-- Thinking and praying for you at this difficult time...


Name: Margie E

Date: 06/06/2013

Message: Dear Mr. John Gaffrey,

So sorry on the loss of your Mom. I never knew her but she sounded like a pretty wonderful person. I am sure you will miss her.

Two of your former Balta ND students had lunch together today at Rib Fest in Fargo. We missed you and Mr. Manly at the Balta Centennial and All School Reunion last summer.

We even looked at your 1970 picture of Secret Agent man in the yearbook. What fun times we had at Balta High that closed in 1990 when we used ditto machines. I have a picture of me teaching German and it had to be because you were busy. Anyway, my condolences and prayers are with you and your family.

Margie E.


Name: Melissa Wick

Date: 6/6/13

Message: So sad to hear about the passing of your beloved Mom. She and Joe touched so many lives and many happy memories will prevail. Take comfort in knowing she was so loved and raised such an awesome "brood". I do love your obituary words. Love and peace to you all, Melissa Wick


Name: Mary Ann Mertes Bodine

Date: 6/6/2013

Message: Dear Mary, I read of your Mother's passing in the Minot Daily News online, and wanted to send my sympathy to You and Yours.  We live in AZ, and I hope to connect with some of our NDSSS classmates this fall at the ND Convention.  Your Mother seemed to be a Lady held in high esteem, and I am sure she will be missed. 

Mary Ann Mertes Bodine, RDH


Name: Steve Mercil

Date: 6-5-2013

Message: Dear Gaffrey Cousins

My condolences.  I remember Anna's joyful smile and relatively calm demeanor among all the Thanksgiving tribal chaos.  Anna's spirit touched all of us. Unfortunately I can not attend the services. My prayers are with you.

Steve Mercil


Name: Ralph Dyrness

Date: 6-5-13

Message: Dear Family,

Our love and prayers with the passing of your dear mom----growing up with many of you and knowing your mom and dad bring back fond memories of our own family with brothers and sisters---the mom and dad may be gone for now, but you all have many memories to bring a smile to your faces as you go through this time---we shall keep you in our prayers.

Love, Ralph n Jean Dyrness


Name: Louie and Dan

Date: 6/5/13

Message: Our sincere sympathies for your mother's passing. She was such a memorable person!
I have many fond memories of her home.

Love Dan and Louie Strehlow


Name: Carol & Mike Birkeland

Date: 06/04/2013

Message: Dear Gaffrey Family:

June 1st was a sad day for History to loose such a Great Lady!  She was always so happy and smiling whenever you were around her.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you.


Mike and Carol Birkeland


Name: Gary Klein

Date: June  4th

Message:    Dear Gaffrey family,so saddened to hear of your loss. Losing a parent of such a large and close family of brothers and sisters is a big loss but Anna has certainly shown the way with her faith and life to show us all how to live out our days. Knowing your mother and dad has been an uplifting experience and what a big heart she had to bring others into her family. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

            God bless      Gary Klein


Name: Fr. David Schwinghamer, MM

Date: June 4, 2013

Message: Dear John,

  Please give my condolences to all the family on the passing of your Mom. May she rest in peace. She was a great woman, wonderful mom and friend to generations of people in and around New Rockford. She will be remembered in our prayers and in our hearts.

Fr. Dave Schwinghamer


Name: Bernadette (Clancy) Carter

Date: 06/04/2013

Message: I was saddened to see the passing of your mother. She was a marvelous individual who, along with your whole family impacted my life tremendously. I have such fond memories of the year I spent with the Gaffreys. Many times I have shared stories of things that happened and life lessons I learned while living with your family. You truly had wonderful parents. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.


Name: Mary Nelson

Date: 6-3-12

Message: JoAnn & family,
I have such wonderful memories of both your wonderful Dad and Mom. Those two showed kindness to everyone! Your Dad was one of the first people we got to know when we moved to New Rockford and I adored him.

I got to know Ann years later ~ she was a treasure. I have such great memories of her and Ann Allmaras on their road trips to Carrington. Those two were so much fun! Ann was always kind and sweet and she had that wonderful smile. What a lady she was.

Please take comfort in the words of our Lord; John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die."


Name: Cindy and Jeff Thomas

Date: 6/4/13

Message: Dear Mary and Family, Our deepest sympathy is extended to you at this time. All though many years have passed we fondly remember our time together and want to extend our prayers to you at this difficult time.
Cindy and Jeff Thomas


Name: Becky Sallander

Date: 6/4/2013

Message: Dearest Mary, So sad to hear about your mom...My thoughts and prayers are sent with the knowledge that I know your memories will help you through her loss. I know she is looking down on you and the rest of her family.
Becky Sallander, Burnsville, MN


Name: mark r harrington

Date: 6/4/13

Message: Thank you for standing with our organization in defending the unborn. Your reward is great! Mark Harrington, Created Equal.


Name: Becky Ludwig

Date: 6/4/2013

Message: My dear friend Mary, and to all your brothers and sister,  I am so sorry for the lose of your wonderful mother.  I remember her laugh and can hear it as I write this.  She was so kind to my sisters and I when our mother Joan passed.   May the Good Lord bless and be with you all thru this time.  Love Becky


Name: Ray and Jan Gellerman

Date: 6/4/2013

Message: Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

Ann was a special person who treated us kindly on our return trips to New Rockford.

We have fond memories of Ann, Joe and the Gaffries.



Name: Mary Helen Dirkx Jorn

Date: June 3, 2013

Message: My Dear Gaffrey family,

What a loss for the world of the wonderful, warm, lively Anna Marhula Gaffrey! I am so glad for the times I had with her, as a child when we visited or met at Grandpa Frank Marhula's home, and as an adult when she came to Texas and when I saw her in Baudette and, last, at a lovely Thanksgiving in Fargo.

Anna was a rich source of all things Marhula, of how to scout for furniture and antiques, and, as one might expect, of information on how to raise a family and manage a household. All such information was delivered upon request with loving kindness, which is not to say it was presented without strong opinion from time to time. As the eldest girl of four Marhula girls in a row born less than five years apart, I believe Anna learned how to be the leader that such a family position required of her, especially in those days of day long labor in running a farm and homestead. She and Uncle Joe seemed a good match to me, not just because they were both so good looking (well, one couldn't help but notice that!), but they seemed matched in beliefs, in strength of character, and in mutual respect and admiration. (How else could they have even thought to happily and graciously bring foreign exchange students into a home already filled to overflowing with the joyful noise of ten children! ?)

I send my condolences and those of my three brothers, Jerry, Steve, and Chris, for the loss of our dear aunt, and our congratulations as well, for her life well lived.

Sending my love and prayers,

Mary Helen

(Mary Dirkx Jorn)  



Name: Gordy and Mary Tiedeman

Date: June 3, 2013

Message: Dear Gaffrey Cousins,  Our sincere sympathy to all of you on the death of your Mother and our Aunt Anna. May the many wonderful memories you have of her sustain you always. She and our Mom were such a pair, and we  had such fun with her and your Dad at your house when we would come and visit.

Our Prayers are with you.

Gordy and Mary Louise ( Mercil) Tiedeman


Name: Dave and Sandee Tuhy

Date: June 3, 2013

Message: So sorry to read this obituary on this fine lady. She had a full life and it is so interesting to read about her even if we never met her. Thanks Mary June for letting us know. She sure had her hands full with 10 children! Now she can rest. Thinking of her whole family and I am sure there are lots of memories.


Name: Tanja mcmillan

Date: June 6th

Message: I'm so sorry for loss. I did not get a chance to meet Anna, but by reading about her I know now she was an amazing woman. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with you all.


Name: Mike Green

Date: 6-3-2013

Message: Rod and family

Sorry for your loss. Mothers are special people.

Mike Green, Lead, SD