Friday, October 26, 2018
11:00 AM EDT
Holy Spirit Church
2230 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Friends are invited to visit with Mary's family from 10 AM until the time of the service.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
625 Kenmoor Ave SE Suite 306
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Dewitt Barrels Inc Environmental Science and Natural Resources Management Scholarship Fund
301 Fulton Street West
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Check should be written payable to:
Grand Valley State University
and include the name of the scholarship in the memo line.
Checks may be mailed to:
Grand Valley State University:
University Development - Gift Processing
301 Fulton Street West
Grand Rapids, MI 49501
A non-profit charity of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
In a life that spanned nearly a century, Mary DeWitt made a tremendous impact on the lives of those around her. Mary’s life was anchored in her faith, and she exemplified what it means to be a generous servant of her Lord Jesus Christ. She spent nearly six decades of her life with her true love, her husband Peter, and together they demonstrated what marriage truly means. Mary was also a devoted mother, but she might have argued that becoming a grandmother was the gift of a lifetime. Loving, kindhearted, and compassionate, Mary will forever be missed.
As the 1920s dawned, there was much excitement in America. At the same time, there was excitement in the lives of James and Elizabeth (McClarney) Dugdale of St. Joseph, Missouri, as they announced the birth of their daughter Mary Kathryn on January 11, 1920. Mary was the second of three children in the family, which also included her brothers Burleigh and James. When she was fairly young, Mary and her family moved to Chicago where her father ran a butcher shop, Dugdale Market, and her mother was a homemaker.
Mary attended Kelly High School, where she played tennis, enjoyed attending dances, and began her lifetime love of reading novels, mysteries, and romance novels. After graduating high school in 1938, Mary was eager for all that life had in store, and began working for Proctor and Gamble in Chicago.
On July 26, 1943, Mary met the love of her life on a blind date arranged by her cousin. She and a friend were set up with a couple of sailors from the Great Lakes Naval Station. Her friend was rather tall, so she told Mary that she’d like the taller of the two young men. Lucky for Mary, the shorter of the two was Peter DeWitt. They immediately hit it off and would date whenever he was able to get leave from the Naval Station. Later on, he was stationed at Fort Pierce, FL, so they would have to wait for Pete to get a 4-5 day leave so he could fly to Chicago.
A short five months after that first meeting, Peter proposed to Mary during over the Christmas holiday. Shortly after that, he found out he was to ship out overseas, so they made plans to get married before he was to leave the country. What was originally going to be a Chicago wedding was quickly changed to a Florida ceremony when Pete’s leave was cancelled. Mary, her mom, Pete’s mom and Pete’s grandma hopped on a train to Florida and on October 14, 1944, Pete and Mary began their life together has husband and wife.
In 1945, Peter returned to Chicago where Peter worked at the family business, DeWitt Barrels. Their next move would be to Michigan, when the family business opened a location in Grand Rapids. They purchased a house on Charlotte NW and in a span of eight years welcomed their children, Peter, Michael, Kathy, Timothy, and William into their hearts and home. In 1961 they moved to a home they built on the land of another family business, the DeWitt Pony Farm.
Mary lived every moment of her life to the fullest and was the consummate caregiver for everyone around her. The family enjoyed vacations to Houghton Lake and Grey Goose Lodge. Mary was an amazing cook whose specialties included swiss steak, salmon patties, french fries, and during Lent it was pork and beans (she always pulled out the pork). Sunday dinners were always rump roast dinner, and her father always made sure they had the most delicious cuts of meat from his butcher shop in Chicago. Mary also kept a garden and canned her own jams, jellies, and pickles.
On Fridays the family tradition included gathering around the television for Friday Night Fights, and Mary made popcorn and fudge for everyone. She also never missed watching the Detroit Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings play, and enjoyed shows like Blue Bloods, Ed Sullivan Show, Jackie Gleason, Lawrence Welk, and Red Skelton. Mary was a dog lover, and over the years their many pets included Lady, Honey, Inki, JoJo, Puddles, and Daisy.
So much of Mary’s life was lived alongside her beloved Peter. They did everything together, whether it was traveling abroad or buying a riding lawn mower for each of them so they could cut the grass together!
As their children grew and began their own families, Mary and Peter shined as grandparents. Mary never missed a birthday and faithfully sent cards every year. They also made it to as many of their grandchildren’s special events, whether a sporting event or Christmas play at church. On several occasions Peter rented a bus for the whole family to visit places like Traverse City, Chicago, and Mackinac Island. These trips were full of memory-making fun, and they would even have matching t-shirts made for each trip.
Peter suffered from heart problems, and Mary cared for him until his death on February 25, 2003. Although she was lost without her companion, her strong Catholic faith and the love of her family lifted her up. In 2016 Mary suffered a stroke, and her health began to decline. When it became clear that she needed more help, she moved to Green Acres in Standale. Mary made many new friends and still received Holy Communion twice a month. On July 2, 2018, she was placed under Hospice care. She made the transition to her new life with Jesus, her husband Peter and so many of her family and friends who went before her on October 18, 2018. She died peacefully and surrounded by her family.
In addition to Peter, she was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Burleigh and James; and granddaughter Monica Mary DeWitt.
Mary’s legacy will live on in her family, who loved and admired her, and is so thankful for the time they had with her, especially these last few months: her children and grandchildren, Peter and Galene DeWitt (Dana & Bob Lewis, Jason and Chantil DeWitt); Mike and Carol DeWitt (Michelle DeWitt, Julie & Doug Lemmen, John & June DeWitt); Kathy Banasiak (Kenny & Dee Banasiak, Christine Falicki & Bob Feurtinger); Tim & Margo DeWitt (Danielle DeWitt, Kathryn DeWitt, Elizabeth & Tim Wiseman, Erin & Gideon Brewer); and Bill & Sonya DeWitt (Megan & Jeff Ballard, Ryan DeWitt, David & Nylah DeWitt) of Texas; 24 great-grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
In lieu of flowers, Mary's family suggests a gift in her memory to Kindred Hospice, the DeWitt Barrels Inc. Environmental Science and Natural Resources Management Scholarship at Grand Valley State University, or a nonprofit organization of your choice. To read more about Mary's life, share a memory, or sign her guestbook, visit www.lifestorynet.com