MaryArden "Pete" Bretland

January 29, 1930 ~ May 21, 2022 (age 92)


MaryArden “Pete” Bretland passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones at her home in Evanston, IL on May 21, 2022. She was a loving wife to Robert “Bret” Bretland for 52 years prior to his death in 2003; a devoted mother to Kyle, Kim, Bruce (Anne) and Sally (Neil); proud and supportive grandmother to Elizabeth, John, Sara, Peter, Andrew, Kelsey, Derek and Bret and adored by 13 great grandchildren. MaryArden was born in New Jersey and immediately confounded her surprised parents who had expected a boy so they called her “Pete” and it stuck. Always a standout in a crowd for her beauty, spirit and radiant smile, the name made her all the more memorable. Ever generous, “Pete” forewent college so her brother could attend. She began her career in sports and bridal retail and various secretarial positions. On a blind date, set up by her dear friend Gege, “Pete” found the love of her life, Bret. Little did she know that her life in the civilized East was to change as Bret moved her to the great plains in 1962. She truly loved Evanston, its people, her life, good friends and special neighbors, but she held on to her roots with a 50 year subscription to the Montclair Times where she could keep up with her old hometown news. Her devotion to Evanston took on new meaning as she found her professional calling when she got up enough courage to spend $100 on a real estate licensing course. Her clients loved her drive, passion, integrity, perseverance, and most of all that she truly cared about their happiness. While her name got her noticed, “Pete’s” abilities made her a top producer for many years at Quinlan & Tyson, Merrill Lynch, Prudential and Prairie Shore Properties. One of her greatest joys was when Bruce partnered with her and also excelled at real estate. Open House was a wonderful description for all who entered “Pete’s” lovely house on Greenwood which she made home for 60 years. She welcomed friends, children and their friends, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, turtles, ducks, toads, fish and birds with open arms and a loving heart. All were embraced by the chaos they found there. Many will fondly recall “Pete” multitasking at all hours of the day or night, entertaining, cooking, baking blueberry pies, typing at the dining room table, surrounded by piles of papers, always on the phone which had a cord that could reach from the kitchen to the screened porch and was never far from her ear. That same wonderful chaos followed “Pete” and Bret when they bought their second home at The Sea Club in Hillsboro Beach, Florida. They spent many years with family and friends floating in the ocean, sitting by the beach, cooking dinners for 16 in a tiny galley kitchen, tripping over Ninja Turtle sleeping bags, enjoying the camaraderie and the beauty of the ocean. We are happy “Pete” is at peace, reunited with Bret and she probably has listings on three clouds by now. Pete’s love for family, for friends, for life, and her beautiful smile lifted everyone up and will continue to do so. She will forever be missed and held dearly in our memories and our hearts.


Interment private. Arrangements entrusted to Evanston Funeral & Cremation, Roland F. Weis director. Info 847 866-8843, condolence and guestbook at

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