Obituary: Mary Carrigan, 67, the "Jane Fonda of the North Shore"

Carrigan taught high and low impact aerobics and water classes and was nationally ranked in the top 10 as part of an amateur doubles team. She grew up in South Bend, IN, and lived in Evanston and Glenview.

Mary Elise Krause Carrigan passed away late Thursday afternoon in Naples, Florida. She was surrounded by family when she lost her nearly 4 year long battle with Multiple Myeloma. 

Mary was born in South Bend, Indiana in August of 1946, the first full year of the Baby Boom. At the time her father—Edward “Moose” Krause – was offensive coordinator for Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy. They were in the middle a record three year national championship run. A few years after Mary’s birth, Moose was be promoted to the title of Athletic Director, a position he would hold for the next 32 years. 

Mary spent her first 22 years in South Bend, enjoying a great life growing up in the beautiful post-war neighborhood just south of the Notre Dame campus. She attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Grade School, and later graduated from St. Mary’s College. While in college, her mother Elise suffered severe brain damage in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. Mary cared for her mother, while also supporting her father who struggled with alcohol after the accident. Moose would later recover and become a life-long advocate and sponsor in the Alcoholics Anonymous organization. Elise, however, never fully recovered and both Moose and Mary would spend significant parts of their lives caring for her over the subsequent 30 years. 

While in her senior year in college, Mary was working at the admissions desk for Notre Dame when a handsome rugby player approached to register for his classes. Richard “Sandy” Carrigan would be struck by both her beauty and her helpful kindness, and would later ask her out on a date. So began a relationship that would develop into marriage in 1969 and lasted for the next 44 years until Sandy’s death about 6 months ago. 

Before giving birth to her first son in 1971, Mary moved with Sandy to Evanston, IL and then worked two years as a grade school math teacher. She spent the next several decades raising her 4 “boys” while also starting her own independent business as a fitness instructor. She taught many classes of both high and low impact aerobics, as well as water classes in the pools of Evanston, Skokie, Morton Grove and Northwestern University. She was known as the “Jane Fonda of the North Shore” 

During this time, for many weeks out of the year, Moose would have to travel extensively in his work as the AD and official ambassador for Notre Dame. He would often drop Elise off at the Carrigan house on his way to the airport, and thus Mary took care of her mother for weeks at a time. This is the time when she also started her humorously titled “home for wayward boys” where she warmly invited all the closest friends of her boys to spend nights, weekends and even weeks in her homes in Evanston and then later Glenview. There were many close friends who affectionately held the title of the “5th son” over the years, but Mary only had one who she really consider to be her “daughter”. This was of course her niece Jill who lived with the family for roughly 4 years during her grade school years. Until the day of her death, Mary and Jill would talk several times a week, and she really did consider Jill to be her 5th child. 

In her spare time, when not raising her kids or running her business, Mary was also a very accomplished athlete. For several years in her 40’s, Mary partnered with her best friend Patty Halverson, and was nationally ranked in the top 10 as an amateur doubles team. 

In May of 2010, Sandy was diagnosed with ALS. Just one month later, Mary was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Despite struggling with her own disease, Mary dedicated the next three years of her life to caring for Sandy. She rarely left his side and spend many wakeless nights helping him to breath easy and find rest. Sandy passed away in July of 2013, and Mary followed him just 6 months later after putting up a good fight of her own. 

Mary is survived by: her 4 sons – Rich, Chris, Kevin and Brian, all of whom “married up” with their choices of excellent daughters-in-law: Julie, Corrie, Mary and Cassi; her daughter/niece Jill and her husband Chris Sawyer; 8 grandkids – Maggie, Alex, Ella, Conor, Jackson, Quinn, Tate & Colin; and her brothers Phil (Jackie) Krause and Fr. Ed Krause, CSC. 

At Mary’s request, there will be no formal wake or funeral services in her memory. She will have her ashes placed with Sandy’s in the Gulf of Mexico near their home in Naples, FL. However, we will have an open cocktail and appetizer party at Evanston Golf Club on the evening of Wednesday, January 29th. This is an open invitation for any friends and family who would like to celebrate her life or pay their respects. All who spent time with her know that she really enjoyed a good cocktail at sunset. So, those who shared in any of the good times of her life are welcome to celebrate with us at EGC from 5p – 9p. Consistent with her wishes, she really didn’t want anyone to “make a fuss”, so please don’t feel obligated to travel to Chicago for this party if you live out of town. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Carrigan Family Foundation. This foundation was established in memory of both Sandy and Mary and continues on their charitable life works in education, medical assistance and social issues. Tax deductible donations can be made out to the foundation directly and sent to 333 E. Touhy, Des Plaines, IL 60018 

Thank you to all of the friends and family who have supported us during this difficult period of the last 4 years. 

This obituary was reprinted with permission of Donnellan Family Funeral Services.


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