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Gary Joseph Contreras

Gary Joseph Contreras, 62 of Chandler, AZ, was born and raised in St. Paul, MN. On Jan 17, 2021, he passed away due to complications of Covid. Gary was proceeded in death by his mother Julia Schwegman. He is survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Mary (Bielmaier) Contreras, his son, Callan Contreras and fiancé Jennifer Oman, his sister Anita Sellers (Mike), and a host of loving nieces and nephews.

Gary was known for his love of the Grand Canyon and hiking and backpacking the wilds of Arizona, another reason his nickname “GC” was so appropriate. He delighted in world travels with his wife, Mary, as they ventured all but two of the continents together.

Gary worked in the Prosthetic and Orthotic industry for over 35 years. He was inspired into this career by his dear friend Pierrot Apikelis after an industrial accident. In this field, he used his creativity to help others find mobility and ability. Gary’s creativity extended to his love of playing his classical guitar and gardening.

Gary was a genuinely kind soul and his spirit will live in the hearts of those who knew him. He was a wonderful husband, father, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, and friend, whose kindness was truly as vast as the Grand Canyons that he loved. As a Minnesota native, he loved his Vikings, the Twins, the St. Paul Saints, Gopher Hockey, the Minnesota Winter Carnival, and the Minnesota State Fair.

Catholic mass and interment will be announced at a later date to be held in St. Paul, Minnesota, and celebration in Wall, South Dakota, and Tempe, Arizona. A Private Service will be held at the Grand Canyon on October 15th & 16th.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to one of the following: Foundation for Living Medicine, 9400 E. Shea Blvd #210, Scottsdale, AZ 85260, Grand Canyon Conservancy, 4 Tonto St, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

Honorary Pallbearers: Mike Sellers​​​​, Christophe Prosnier​​​, Craig Bielmaier​​​, Kevin Bielmaier, Dr Aaron Scott, Scott Stewart​​​​, Dr Keith Thompson​​​, Keith Koecher, Tom Haenfler, Kip Foye​, Dave Mazzara​​​,​ Tom Hayden, Jay Peterson, Dr Konard Hauffe, David Persighel

47 Comments

  • Kathryn Hanson Mazón Posted January 23, 2021 8:05 AM

    My heat is so heavy. I loved Gary like a brother. Mary and Callan know I’m always here for you; you are my family❤️

  • Kelli Fawcett Posted January 23, 2021 8:18 AM

    Mary my friend, I honor your beloved Gary, the beautiful friendship and marriage you had, and how you cared for one another with such support and tenderness. What a wonderful and adventurous man, with a zest for life. I am here for you, always, with loving arms and an open heart.

  • Jay Peterson Posted January 23, 2021 8:42 AM

    So saddened with the loss of such wonderful man that had so much kindness and generosity in him. His beautiful soul will be with me forever. Much love to you Mary and Callan

  • Debbie Gaby Posted January 23, 2021 8:56 AM

    Gary was such a wonderful man . I’m sending my deepest sympathy and condolences. Praying for you and your family .
    I Love You my sweet beautiful Friend Debbie Gaby

  • Tom Hayden Posted January 23, 2021 9:01 AM

    Like all of us I am saddened that Gary left us too soon, but I celebrate his life and extend my love to those that will miss him the most, those he lived for and so loved, the people whose daily lives centered around him. With you in love❤️

  • Kathey Wagner Posted January 23, 2021 9:21 AM

    Gary was one of the kindest souls in the world. He always put others first. His passion for the outdoors was contagious. His passion for the Grand Canyon and being outdoors was always apparent. Our world lost an earth angel and I’m grateful for having the opportunity to travel together. Mary my heart breaks for you and I’m hear when your ready to share memories and tears. xoxo

  • Susan Manion Posted January 23, 2021 9:31 AM

    I am so saddened by everyone’s loss of this kind, gentle man. In the 25+ years that I have known first Mary, then Gary, then Callan, it was clear to me how much they loved each other and that he was her/their rock. The world was a better place with Gary in it & we shall all miss him terribly.

  • Aaron Scott Posted January 23, 2021 9:51 AM

    Gary’s tragic loss was sudden and unexpected. He will be remembered for his dry sense of humor behind a quiet demeanor. At the time of his passing we were just a couple of weeks away from taking another World traveling expedition together. That experience just won’t be the same without him and I’m saddened that he we’ll miss it. We will miss him and honor his memory forever.

  • George & Valois Strandell Posted January 23, 2021 10:00 AM

    Mary, Sending deep condolences to you and Callan in your sudden loss of Gary. Our thoughts are with you in this time and will continue to be with you always. Best always dear cousin.

  • Deborah Bateman Posted January 23, 2021 10:16 AM

    Sending my heartfelt condolences. Words cannot express the sorrow of losing Gary and the void so many will feel in their lives. Special hiugs to Mary as she moves forward without her loving partner.

  • Rick West Posted January 23, 2021 10:43 AM

    Mary, my thoughts and Prayers are with you and your Family during this difficult time. God Bless!

  • Ray Dolberry Posted January 23, 2021 11:26 AM

    Thoughts and prayers to Mary and Callan and the rest of the family. I was shocked at the news of Gary’s passing. Heartbreaking and tragic. Gary was the kind of people this world needs. A great man,. He will be deeply missed. RIP Gary.

  • Mary Collum Posted January 23, 2021 11:39 AM

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you Mary. Gary had a terrific life – blessed with great adventures Sending love & hugs

  • Linda & Chris Stanfield Posted January 23, 2021 11:42 AM

    Mary, Our love and prayers for you and your family. Its so unbelievable, Gary was always such a wonderful person to talk with, it was a treat when he covered the office phones and I got to say hi. Please take time for yourself this is such a shock and your body will need lots of tlc. We love you.

  • Jack Vander Woude Posted January 23, 2021 12:05 PM

    Mary, my heart grieves for you, Callan and all those who loved Gary dearly. May you feel God’s presence, strength and love in this time of sorrow. Gary was such a gentle and caring person. He will be missed greatly by all who had the honor of knowing him. My thoughts and prayers are with you. God’s peace!

  • Shellie Nagel Posted January 23, 2021 12:13 PM

    Mary I am truly sorry for the loss of your wonderful husband and best friend Gary. The time spent together is never long enough. He will be remembered for being a good man. He was kind, thoughtful caring and considerate to everyone he met. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. I will keep you in my prayers Mary knowing the days ahead will be difficult. I hope you can take comfort knowing how many friends you have that love you.

  • Tricia Manara Posted January 23, 2021 12:25 PM

    Mary, both Jimmy and I are saddened by the loss of your love. I cannot begin to understand the pain you feel. We are sending prayers for strength and comfort during this time. In the days to come just know you have many friends supporting you if you need anything.

  • Linda Herold Posted January 23, 2021 12:28 PM

    My heartfelt condolences to you and your family on the passing of Gary. Mary, your husband was a kind and thoughtful man and he loved you dearly. My heart breaks for you. Gary had a wonderful life, his great spirit was shared with friends and family who will remember him with love. With deepest sympathy, friendship and love,

  • James Dodson Posted January 23, 2021 12:32 PM

    Gary was always calm and a real gentleman. Well Done good ^ faithful servant

  • Pam Gaber Barnes Posted January 23, 2021 12:55 PM

    Mary, so sorry for your loss. Gary impacted so many people. May your many happy memories over the past 40 years bring you comfort. Love you!! ❤️

  • Kent Rini Posted January 23, 2021 1:07 PM

    Gary you are gift from the Divine. My best friend for 30 years.

  • Patricia Hayden Posted January 23, 2021 2:18 PM

    Mary and Callan, I’m so sorry for this loss – Gary was warm, friendly, generous, always kind. He will be greatly missed. With love, Patti and Alan, and family.

  • Velma Tidwell Posted January 23, 2021 2:42 PM

    Mary , my heart feels so sad for you and your family. I pray for God to give you strength and peace as you go forward. My love is with you!

  • Margaret Stephens-Reed and Phillip Reed Posted January 23, 2021 4:24 PM

    Mary, As you grieve know that we are remembering you and honoring the memory of Gary.

  • Angie Hallier Posted January 23, 2021 5:08 PM

    Kind dear Mary, Gary was so proud of you and so proud to be married to you. While I was with you more than with the two of you together, it was always evident in his eyes when I did see you together how much he adored you.. You two had something rare- and anyone who was around you knew it. Prayers and love.

  • Kelly Hannigan Posted January 23, 2021 6:36 PM

    Dearest MaryBeth, it was an honor to know Gary and my heart is with you, holding you, sending strength and love.

  • Sharon Lamm-Hartman Posted January 24, 2021 9:26 AM

    Dearest Mary. I never had the pleasure of meeting Gary. He looks like he had a heart of gold and his smile exudes love and warmth. I am sending you many prayers, much love and my deepest sympathy to you and your family..

  • Sam & Jamie Yaghoubi Posted January 24, 2021 5:15 PM

    Mary – We are so sorry for your loss. Gary was always kind and generous to our boys, never without a warm smile and a waive as we drove by. He will be missed in the neighborhood.

  • Elizabeth Stairs Posted January 24, 2021 6:24 PM

    Mary I am so terribly sorry for the loss of Gary, your husband, best friend and soul mate. I know your grief is deeply painful and soul wrenching and yes even the skies were opening to cry for him as well these last few day. Always know your friends and family are here for you,

  • Sonja Mazón Rubalcava Posted January 24, 2021 6:55 PM

    Mary, Andy and I send you our deepest condolences. He is loved by so many and know that we all pray for you and your family. Please let us know if you need anything. God bless you and your family.

  • Mamiko and Greg Odegard Posted January 25, 2021 12:40 AM

    Dearest Mary. We hold you and Gary deep in our hearts and thoughts. It’s unimaginable the pain of your loss of best friend and husband. We could tell how you absolutely adored and cherished each other. We are so sorry that Gary was taken away so soon. He lived life in a quietly passionate way with gratitude, joy, fun , fulfillment and grace. He’s a true inspiration to us of devotion, kindness and love. We will truly miss Gary. Greg and I are both here to help lift you and share our love.

  • Maryann Richardson Posted January 25, 2021 1:27 PM

    My prayers for you and your family. Gary was a wonderful gentlemen who enjoyed his life. He will be missed .

  • Maryann Richardson Posted January 25, 2021 1:29 PM

    My prayers for you and your family. Gary was a wonderful gentlemen who enjoyed his life. He will be missed . All my best, Mary.

  • Keith Koecher Posted January 25, 2021 1:49 PM

    Dear Mary,
    My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family. I want you to know I am thinking of you, praying for you and grieving with you over the loss of one of this planets gentlest souls.
    I will NEVER forget the 50 years of friendship Gary and I shared or the kindness he extended to me and my family.
    My prayer for you is that the many wonderful memories you and Gary created will be a source of comfort in the coming days and weeks ahead.
    He was a special person who will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
    Sincerely,

  • Kiki Posted January 27, 2021 1:01 PM

    Mary, Callan, Jen and my nearest and dearest friend Anita, There are no words to express the sadness and heartbreak felt over the loss of Gary, I have been one of the lucky ones to grow up along side of Anita and consider Gary my big brother too (or Charlie, as his angels refer to him) . Gary was truly the most kind, gentle and loving man, We are all fortunate to have had him part of our lives, He will be loved & missed FOREVER!

  • Cathryn Curcio Posted January 27, 2021 4:16 PM

    I am so sorry for your loss Mary. I know you understand we have no words to ease your pain and sadness or say .I know how you feel. Gary has touched so many of us just like my son has. We know they are both in a better place and we will be together again. They will be holding our hands and help us with our transition when God needs us. I am going to miss him and treasure all of our memories. Gary you have always been there for me, you always make me feel welcomed and valued. Love <3 and miss you.

  • Nora Ellen Posted January 27, 2021 8:28 PM

    Precious Mary, what a beautiful story about Gary and your lives together. I know he loved you very much and you were such a great wife and friend for him. With the little time I was around Gary, I could see he was a special man. I am so sorry for this unexpected passing away of your beloved. I’m praying for you and sending love and hugs, ~ Nora Ellen

  • Paul and Debi Cress Posted January 28, 2021 11:36 AM

    Dear Mary, Paul and are so sad at Gary’s unexpected passing. We’re holding you in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Irma Chaira Posted January 29, 2021 10:18 AM

    Mary. Ditto on all the above comments. Obviously he was true and consistent. We will miss him on our travels. God Bless you and your beautiful son.

  • Debbie Wiltse Posted January 29, 2021 10:19 AM

    Mary, My heartfelt condolences go out to you and your family. I didn’t know Gary very well but every time I saw you two together it was obvious the love and happiness you two shared. He will always be with you in your heart and memories. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

  • Debbie Wiltse Posted January 29, 2021 10:20 AM

    Mary, My condolences go out to you and your family. I didn’t know Gary very well but every time I saw you two together it was obvious the love and happiness you two shared. He will always be with you in your heart and memories. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

  • Barb Thorpe Posted January 29, 2021 10:37 AM

    Mary, please accept my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your husband, partner and best friend. I will pray for you and your family as you grieve to be able to keep the wonderful memories at the forefront. Thank you for sharing what a wonderful man he was.

  • Martin and Renee Armijo Posted January 29, 2021 3:58 PM

    Renee and I have so many fond memories of time spent with you and Gary and all the great places we visited together over all the years since we met as Trainees 25 years ago . Gary would always be there with a great smile and seeming to enjoy the moment. I had a lot of conversations with Gary about what he did for Prosthetics and how he loved what he did. Mary you and Gary will always be in our best memories . May Gary’s soul Rest In peace. Martin and Renee Armijo

  • ELVIA COTA-RAMIREZ Posted February 1, 2021 1:39 PM

    Mary, I am deeply saddened for your immense loss. Manuel and I enjoyed spending time with you both on our trips and State Farm events. Gary will be missed. My condolences to you and Callan. May God’s healing balm be with you and all your family. BIG HUG!

  • Donna Kohlhase Posted February 1, 2021 4:22 PM

    Mary, I just got the sad news of Gary’s passing. I am so sorry for your loss. You are in our Prayers. I’ll always remember Gary as the most supportive husband who loved you with all his being. Hugs!❤️❤️❤️

  • Jeremy Apikelis Posted April 23, 2021 5:45 PM

    I’m so sorry for you and your family’s loss Mary. My father Pierre spoke so highly of Gary. I am glad I got the pleasure to see him again a few years ago when you both flew out to MN for my father.

  • Julie Apikelis Posted May 9, 2021 7:47 AM

    I’m so sorry for your loss Mary. Gary was kind, loving and a wonderful friend to Pierre and my family. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

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