Cover photo for Mary Armstrong Lake's Obituary
Mary Armstrong Lake Profile Photo
1926 Mary 2023

Mary Armstrong Lake

December 4, 1926 — March 23, 2023

Mary Armstrong Lake went to be with her Lord and Savior on March 23, 2023, at the age of 96 at Arbor Terrace in Rochester, MN. Mary Armstrong Lake was born December 4, 1926 in Utica, NY to the Rev B.F. Armstrong and Margaret Denison Armstrong. The family lived in several towns in upstate New York; including Elmira, Corning, and Johnson City. She attended high school at Houghton Academy in Houghton, NY. She was married in 1946 to Hiram "Hi" Lake of Binghamton, NY; they spent two years at Nyack Missionary College, then Wheaton College in Illinois while Hi completed his anthropology degree. The family lived in Johnson City, NY until Feb 1957 when they sailed to New Guinea via Holland, Dakar, Singapore and Labuan with their two older children Larry and Karen. Mary and Hi ministered to the Dani people of the Baliem Valley from 1957 to 1965, a group known historically as "primitive Stone Age cannibals". Mary was active in language learning, Bible translation and informal ministry to village women, as well as the constant labor to maintain a home in primitive conditions with unreliable supplies, no electricity, no running water, almost no contact with other missionaries, and the frequent absence of her first two children who were at the mission's boarding school, and home only twice a year. Letters and packages from family members in the United States sometimes took up to 6 months to arrive. The years in the Baliem at their station Pugima were dangerous and fraught with disease and daunting challenges: once Hi and Mary were poisoned by followers of a hostile shaman and attacked at night by a group of his warriors who threatened to burn down the grass house they were living in at the time. Mary was ill for a time with undiagnosed cerebral meningitis: lab results arrived from Holland a year after she had miraculously recovered. Over the years, Mary survived at least eight major diseases, including polio, dysentery, malaria, and breast cancer, and attributed her recoveries to the grace of the God she served. Son, David, was born in New Guinea and a year later the family returned to the US, largely doubting that they had done much good on the mission field. The Lakes settled in New Jersey where Hi worked for RCA Laboratories and later employers, and Kevin was born there. In 1975 they moved to Rochester, Minnesota where Hi became Director of Materials Management at St. Mary's Hospital affiliated with the Mayo Clinic. In subsequent years they learned of great spiritual growth among the Dani of the Pugima area: thousands of baptized believers in at least six village churches, all stemming from their faithful ministry to only one Dani believer in the early days who subsequently influenced his clan, and from the subsequent work of other missionaries. Mary was a member of the Autumn Ridge Church for 47 years and led women's Bible studies for Bible Study Fellowship for 18 years. She loved her family and enjoyed being with them. She was preceded in death by her husband, Hi, of almost 70 years who died in 2016 and by her siblings Ben Armstrong and Ruthie Megill. She is survived by four children Larry (MaryBeth) Lake, Karen (Rick) Foster, David (LeAnn) Lake, and Kevin (Debi) Lake, eight grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. A celebration of Mary's life will be held on March 30th at 11:00 am in the Timothy Chapel at Autumn Ridge Church, Rochester, MN with Rev. C. John Steer officiating. Visitation will be held at 10:00, an hour prior to the service. Interment will take place at Oakwood Cemetery. To watch a livestream of Mary's service on the day of, please use this link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=5TpFTCXibMU&ab_channel=AutumnRidgeChurch A big thank you to the whole staff at Arbor Terrace where Mary lived in independent living for eleven years and lived in memory care for the past year and a half. Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes is honored to serve the Lake family; to share a special memory or condolence, please visit www.ranfranzandvinefh.com.
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, March 30, 2023

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Service

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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