Life Story / Obituary
Mary Cegelis lived her life with a fierce passion for all people. She loved a good time and was known for her optimism and strength over the years. She credited much of her resilience to her personal relationship with Jesus. Always one to show compassion and empathy with everyone she met, there is no doubt that Mary will be dearly missed by her close friends and family members forever.
It seems quite fitting that Mary arrived during the midst of a decade known for its feel-good energy. Many social norms were relaxed during the ‘60s especially in regards to civil rights and music was emerging in a wide variety of forms from folk to the Beatles revolution. Weighing only three pounds and fourteen inches long, she was born a fighter. The baby of the Cegelis family, Mary brought great joy and happiness into their hearts and home.
Growing up on 1057 11th Street NW in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mary lived a typical childhood of the times. Faced with many challenges, she leaned on her parent’s steadfast example of faith. Mary was never one to complain and learned perseverance from her mother, who had been afflicted with polio. Active throughout her youth, Mary played basketball and the clarinet at St. Adalbert’s. Her educational journey continued on to West Catholic High School where she graduated with the Class of 1984.
Mary had a love of learning and was passionate in her understanding that life experiences combined with knowledge opened many doors. After graduation, she set off for Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. She returned to Grand Rapids where she ran a successful chiropractic office for a few years. During this time, Mary also went on to pursue her degree in nursing from Grand Valley State University.
Mary’s career in chiropractic practice ended when she accepted a nursing job at St. Mary’s Hospital. From there, she landed a sales representative position with the pharmaceutical company, Hospira, where she drew on her strong skills and knowledge to educate hospitals in Michigan on medical pumps. Well-liked as well as intelligent about her product, Mary made many long lasting friendships throughout her medical career. By the end of her career, Mary had accumulated five professional degrees including her doctorate yet remained grounded as both approachable and personable with her peers and colleagues. As much as she was driven, she was equally as humble. She never gave anyone the impression that she knew everything, instead she chose to listen attentively and only offer her own advice and guidance when needed.
Mary lived her life to the fullest measure. In addition to her studies and professional life, she held a wide variety of special interests. A natural in the garden, Mary kept beautiful flower beds meticulously groomed. She often used her time gardening to pray and found great solace in planting flowers and bushes as well as patching the grass. Known to ride a remarkable 1200-1400 miles at a time, she turned to cycling to build up her endurance. In the winter months, she attended spin classes in order not to lose the momentum she built up on the outdoor trails. Due to her illness with bacterial endocarditis, Mary eventually turned to walking and cherished the change in seasons. She would pause to smell the lilacs in spring, rake leaves in the fall, hear the snow crunch under her feet and stop and listen to the quiet, heavenly peace of the gently falling snow in the winter.
An avid reader throughout her life, Mary enjoyed a wide variety of authors. She made good use of her library card and could literally spend hours in a bookstore! Some of her favorite authors were Francine Rivers, James Patterson, as well as Corrie Ten Boom, yet her favorite book was her Bible, in fact she never left home without it! A music lover, Mary enjoyed classical, Christian, Rock and Roll; especially the music of the ‘50s, and everything in between! A special treat was visiting Frederik Meijer Gardens to see an outdoor concert even if she hadn’t really heard or listened to the artist. There was never a dull moment with Mary as she always kept her heart light and embraced the goodness in every situation or time shared. As her journey with illness continued, Mary found peace within her pain. She learned to let go and let the peace she was experiencing flow in the same way that Jesus’ love flowed into the hearts of others. Mary found her purpose in these moments and treasured sharing her joy and love with even the luckiest of strangers. Described as a strong and independent person, Mary leaves behind a rich collection of memories for her many special friends and loved ones to cherish.
Mary Ann Cegelis, came into life early, born six weeks premature on April 27, 1966 and as expected left this earth running into the arms of Jesus on June 2, 2020. Mary was preceded in death by her parents; Frank and Evelyn Cegelis and her brothers; Jim and Eddie. Mary is survived by her brothers; Rick (Mary Kay), Frank (Marcia), and Bob (Phyllis), many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. Mary would like to acknowledge her friends Steve and Sherri Meyer, Kevin Scheppman, nurse/caregiver Sharon Shell and Dave Short and Dawn from St. Mary’s home infusion for their encouraging words, prayers and kindness.
Mary also extends her gratitude and thanks to neighbors; Brandon Takens, Meghan Collins, little Ms. Norah for always looking out for “Miss Mare”and Meg for being like a sister at times with hugs, laughter, and love. Thank you also to Steven DeJong, for sharing memories with her of her brother Eddie and for always making sure her lawn mower and snowblower were in shape for the seasons ahead. A sincere appreciation is shared with Dr. Steve Triesenberg for touching the life of her dad when he had bacterial endocarditis back in 1996, and then to be her PCP. A special thank you for his compassion, tenderness, deep conversations and for bringing joy into her life. A celebration of Mary’s life will be scheduled and held when the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Mary’s friends and family would be honored if you were able to attend.