Mary Jill was born March 24, 1960 in Charles City, Iowa, the third daughter of Paul and Alice Bringgold. They lived in Riceville, Iowa at that time and moved to Cannon Falls when she was five years old. Her life in these small towns shaped a lot of her values.
Mary Jill made the most of her interests. In high school, she was in band and choir, and in many small groups associated with those ensembles. She was also in debate, contest speech, theater productions and other groups we can’t even remember! She graduated from Cannon Falls High School in 1978 and started college that fall at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. While at Carleton, she was in choir and several theater productions. She graduated from Carleton in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in Religion. Mary Jill worked with her father, Paul Bringgold at First National Bank of Cannon Falls from 1982 until 2007, when the family sold the bank to Merchant’s Bank. A few years after leaving the bank, Mary Jill opened What in Yarnation! a yarn store in downtown Cannon Falls. The store was an amazing community where many people gathered every day to knit and talk, sharing their lives with each other. She closed the yarn store after her diagnosis with breast cancer in March 2017.
She was an outspoken personality and almost insisted on honest communication. Known to use the phrase “Ack!” she would be saying “Ack!” after seeing the outpouring of love on her Caringbridge site and her sisters’ Facebook pages. Mary Jill was known for her civic engagement, such as community band and choir, community theater productions, Cannon Falls City Council and the Charter Commission to name just a few. She was very active at First English Lutheran Church in Cannon Falls. In the 1980s she was in the Minnesota Chorale. For the last several years, she was in Le Donne, a women’s choir in Northfield, Minnesota.
Most of all, Mary Jill’s greatest pride was in being Christine’s and Matt’s mother. Seeing them grow into incredible adults has been the joy of her life! But they weren’t her only children -- she usually referred to herself as “Mom” to her pets.
We are grateful to Bill for caring for her during the last few weeks of her life. Mary Jill died on Thursday evening, November 24, 2022 at the age of 62 years.
She is survived by her children Christine Jill Benson and Matthew William Duncan; former husbands Richard Benson and Bill Duncan; sisters Jeanne Bringgold-Pro and Rebecca Bringgold Erickson; step-daughters Molly and Hillary; and her Corgi Rufus. Mary Jill was preceded in death by her parents Paul and Alice Bringgold and her Cairn Terrier Xena.
A celebration of life service will be held on Saturday, December 10 at 3:00 pm, with visitation from 1:00-3:00 pm, at First English Lutheran Church, Cannon Falls. This service will be livestreamed and available to watch below. Memorials preferred to First English Lutheran Church or Le Donne, c/o Christa Carlson, 562 Cannon Way, Dundas, MN 55019.
LIVESTREAM INFORMATION: For those who would like to participate in Mary Jill's service via livestream, you can watch the service on Saturday, December 10 at 3:00 pm. It can be viewed by scrolling to the bottom of this page, and click to begin. Please leave a message of support on our Tribute Wall to let the family know you were able to watch the service. If you are having troubles with the Livestream, the service will be available to watch later in the day.