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Maria (van Gemert) Pulles

May 7, 1923 ~ May 8, 2023 (age 100) 100 Years Old

Maria Pulles Obituary

Maria (Ria) Pulles, 100, passed peacefully into the loving arms of her Lord on May 8.  She was preceded in death by her husband Eduard and was survived by 3 daughters -  Mary (Jim) Cavanaugh, Jeannette (David) Tulis and Joanne (Mike) McIlwain. Also 7 grandchildren - Meghan, Jennifer, and Maria Cavanaugh, Abigail, David, Josiah, and Jacob Tulis. Visitation will be held at Good Shepherd Catholic Church on Friday, July 14, 2023 at 10:00 AM with a Celebration of Life/ Memorial Mass at 10:30 AM and Inurnment at 11:30 AM. Lunch and fellowship to follow in the Good Shepherd Parish Hall. Address is 13550 Chaney Thompson Road in Huntsville. 


Ria was born in Eindhoven, The Netherlands where she grew up as the treasured daughter of her mom, a homemaker, and her dad, a director at the all important Phillips factory. Ria was joined at age nine by her brother Pieter. She was educated at a Belgian boarding school and later studied Home Economics. Just before WWII broke out, Ria became engaged to a young small town postmaster, Eduard Pulles. This resulted in a seven year engagement as they waited for the end of the Nazi occupation so they could tie the knot. After two years of marriage, Ed followed two of his brothers as he and Ria immigrated to the United States. Ed and Ria became part of the vibrant Chicago community of the Dutch Immigrant Society and Ria worked a short stint for Sunbeam. They had three daughters in seven years and found themselves in the leafy suburb of Elmhurst where Ria took on the bulk of child rearing while Ed completed his graduate school studies at night school. Ria used her skills in decorating, sewing and cooking to make a lovely home for the family of 5 involving herself in all her girls’ activities including Brownies, Girl Scouts, parochial schools, art and ballet classes. In 1969 Ed was transferred to the south, to Huntsville AL where Ria again found her footing in running their busy home, being a founding member of several ladies groups and involvement in various church charities. Ria’s life long commitment to and involvement in the Catholic Church was very important to her, including attending weekly mass and participating with her husband in various Bible studies at Holy Spirit and later at Good Shepherd. Ria was even instrumental in starting a group for seniors at Holy Spirit church way before she was one! The Edenderry Social Club provided seniors at the church with much needed social interaction. Ria was always the first to help when there was a need - whether it was new immigrants in the community, a neighbor going through a difficulty or as an officer for one of the many groups which were fortunate to have her as a member. Ria was the hostess with the mostess, the life of the party, she just enjoyed being with people and sharing laughter. Ria was always interested in improving herself. She decided to learn how to drive when her girls were in elementary school.  She decided to get her GED before her children finished high school. She took up gardening, knitting, crocheting and she sewed very fashionable clothes for herself and her girls. In addition, Ria supported her husband in his many interests and adventures including gardening, sailing and becoming a working artist. Ed was always so proud of “his Ria”. She always knew what to wear, how to be stylish on a budget, what to say, and how to put people at ease. When their girls were on their own, Ria and Ed enjoyed traveling, visiting far away friends and their own daughters’ growing families. Ria gave many gifts to her daughters, chief among these was passing on her ideal of living graciously. She taught them how to set a nice table, how to plan a meal, how to make a room look cozy and inviting, how to make strangers feel welcome. In her golden years Ria continued to be active. She took yoga classes, she swam regularly, she enjoyed being on a Wi Bowling Team, and attended as many of her grandchildren’s big events as possible. Ria was a supportive and admiring wife, a resourceful and frugal mom, a loving and wise Oma. Very late in life, she came to a new understanding of her faith in God. After being laid up with a stroke, then a broken hip, followed by another broken hip, Ria concluded at the age of 95 that God was trying to get her attention. Before these setbacks, Ria confessed she did not really have time for God. After them, she testified that she had nothing but time for God. She was humbled by her circumstances but found her new faith in God was more than enough to sustain her as she valiantly fought back to regain her mobility time and time again. She was so grateful for all her friends who visited her in her diminished capacity, she was thankful to the staff for their care of her, she made many friends at Redstone first in independent living, then in assisted living and finally in skilled care. Ria knew where she was going and she knew Her Savior would carry her. He did. Enter your eternal rest - we who love you will miss you but we know you are with the One who loves you most. 

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Memorial Mass
July 14, 2023

10:00 AM
Good Shepherd Catholic Church (Huntsville)


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