Penny Pray (Rueckert-Simmons)

Obituary of Penny Marie Pray (Rueckert-Simmons)

Penny Marie Pray (Rueckert-Simmons) passed away on July 19th at the age of 65, surrounded by family and friends. Penny was preceded in death by her parents, Clarence and Lorraine Rueckert, as well as by her dogs Pepper and Casper. She is survived by her loving son Stephen (Laura) Simmons, cherished dog Phantom, partner Paul Olson, brother Rick (Mary) Rueckert, sister Pat (Paul) Chaffee, brother Rob Rueckert, and sister Pam Rueckert. She also had seven nieces and nephews who will all miss her dearly.

Penny’s greatest joys in life were her beloved son, Stephen, her many dogs, and music. She filled her life with music from a young age, joining the Mounties Drum and Bugle Corps when she was in middle school. Penny later joined her siblings Rick, Pat, and Rob in MN Brass, and was a dedicated member of the group for more than 20 years. Following her years in drum corps, she became one of the original members of Brio Brass, a sit-down brass band founded by her brother, Rick, which included many of the same people with whom she used to march. Penny not only played continuously with Brio Brass for 20 years, she also worked behind the scenes handling scheduling and treasurer duties to keep the band running. She was a multi-talented musician who played clarinet, soprano, and baritone, as well as a devoted friend to her fellow bandmates. In addition to her brass career, Penny expressed her love for music by regularly attending karaoke with her sister, Pam, for many years.

Penny made friends wherever she went. She formed countless friendships in MN Brass and Brio Brass, bonding over a shared love of music, performing, and competition. She was also a well-loved member of the Moose Lodge in Maplewood prior to their closing and volunteered at a variety of their fundraising events. She worked for the state of Minnesota for over 40 years, during which time she became very close with many of her coworkers. Penny found a wonderful long-term partner in Paul Olson. She frequently traveled to Superior, WI to spend time with him, and was beloved by his family as well as her own. She also remained close to her former husband Roger Simmons, with whom she co-parented her son Stephen. She loved Mexican food, horror movies, and the color pink. When she was in Maplewood, one of Penny’s favorite things to do was to meet Stephen and his wife Laura for lunch or dinner at Acapulco.

Penny was also an animal lover and had many dogs throughout her life, including Pepper, Casper, and Phantom. Her dogs were an important part of her family, and were accepted by her son as akin to adopted siblings. Although she was not a fan of birds, Penny was kind to all living creatures.

A visitation for Penny will be held on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 from 3PM-7PM at Sandberg Funeral and Cremation Services, 2593 E. 7th Avenue, North St. Paul, MN 55109. There will also be a celebration of life at a later date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make a small donation to the Animal Humane Society at

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Penny
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Sandberg Funeral and Cremation Services
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