Mary Lou Patterson

Jan 16th 1934 - Jul 31st 2011

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LIFESTORY:

Always at the ready with encouraging words, a comforting embrace, or ready smile, Mary Lou Patterson was a source of strength to those she loved and cared for. Although a quiet woman, she had a big heart which spoke volumes for the love she held for her family and those close to her. Even though life without her will never be the same, she leaves lasting memories as a reminder of her gentle, loving kindness.

The daughter of Cornelius and Wilma (Kindle) Groen, Mary Lou was born on January 16, 1934 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was during the Great Depression and times were desperate. With money scarce, many flocked to theaters to relieve their minds from everyday worries, and Mary Lou was forever a bright spot during uncertain times. She offered hope for promising tomorrows as her parents worked hard to overcome tough, economic obstacles. Even so, they were certain to always have food on their table and despite daily struggles, they made a good life for young Mary Lou and her seven siblings.

Mary Lou grew up in Martin and her formative years were spent in their bustling household where everyone did their share. As one of the eldest, she was always protective of her siblings growing up. In fact, she looked out for the well being of her family her entire life and they knew she was one with whom they could depend. Many enjoyable Sunday gatherings of extended family at her home included an array of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Those were memorable times for Mary Lou and she learned much about her family enjoying their company. As a young girl she was quite a good athlete, especially when it came to softball. Later in life she even went on to coach her nieces in the sport.

Having attended the local schools, Mary Lou left school as a young woman and set out on her own. She didn't waste any time finding work and gave as much of her earnings as she could to help provide for her family back home. Mary Lou was considered the stable rock in her family over the course of her life. Even during some of the most difficult days in the lives of her loved ones, Mary Lou offered a sense of strength in many situations.

Life as Mary Lou knew it soon changed when she met a handsome young man while working at the Holly's Restaurant in Kalamazoo. Bert Patterson worked at the Marathon gas station nearby and they soon began dating. After dating for a year and in love, they were happily married on February 26, 1954 and settled into a cozy little home on John Street in Kalamazoo. They later moved to Plainwell and there she raised their two sons, Wade and Todd. Her son Orin, whom Mary Lou had so anticipated the arrival of, was sadly stillborn. Eventually, Mary Lou returned to her roots when she and Bert later made their home in Martin where they spent the last 24 years of their lives together.

A hard worker her whole life through, Mary Lou not only worked for Holly's Restaurant but for the Shakespeare Corporation, Jolly Kids Tog Shop and spent over 20 years working at Checker Motors. Along with work and making a good home for and raising her family, she was a longtime member of the Lion's Club where she volunteered now and again. An extremely avid and enthusiastic bowler all her life, she bowled on many different leagues over the years. She also found enjoyment walking, especially the streets of her childhood in Martin.

Another source of enjoyment for Mary Lou was her love for baseball. She was an avid Detroit Tigers fan. She always recalled with great fondness that many years ago, while attending a Tigers game, she luckily caught a fly ball that was hit by the great player of his time, Ted Williams. As soon as she was able after the game, Mary Lou made her way down to the dugout area and was able to have each member of the Tiger roster, sign their autograph to the baseball that she caught.

Mary Lou was an excellent cook and made some of the most scrumptious meals for her family. When it came to baking, she was very well known for her mouth watering pumpkin rolls and the many flavors of pies she baked. In fact, throughout the years many people sought her out, hiring her to bake for them. Her delicious pies always went over well for events at Martin United Methodist Church where she was a longtime member. Although she herself had a penchant for bingo, Mary Lou often helped out with the Lion's Club bingo games for many years.

With home as her most treasured place to be, Mary Lou was pretty content keeping to herself right there. She and Bert did travel to Las Vegas a few times, and leave it to Mary Lou, she somehow always managed to win just enough to cover their trips there! Just a part of her personality, Mary Lou was happy to remain out of the limelight. It was in her nature to be considered quiet, and she rarely spoke out about anyone or anything. She preferred keeping things to herself. However, she never hesitated when reflecting on the greatest day of her life, because it included the day she met her forever love and life partner, Bert.

Sometimes life gives us mixed blessings. On one hand, we rejoice, while the burden is hard to carry on the other. When Mary Lou was involved in an auto accident earlier this year and soon after experienced chest pain, it proved to provide a startling revelation about the condition of her underlying health. It was soon determined she suffered from an untreatable cancer mass. At the age of 77, Mary Lou died Sunday, July 31, 2011. She will be fondly remembered and dearly missed.

Learn more about Mary Lou, view her life story film and visit with her family and friends while sharing light refreshments Wednesday, 3-7 PM at Life Story Funeral Home Plainwell, 120 S. Woodhams (685-5881) where funeral services will be held Thursday, August 4, 2011, 11:00 AM. Members of Mary Lou's family include her husband, Bert; children: Wade and Todd Patterson; sisters, Beverly Tague, Peg Steele and Dianne Yeaman. She was also preceded in death by her siblings, Charles and Gary Groen, Darlene LaFountaine and Elaine Miner. Visit Mary Lou’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can submit a favorite memory or photo, sign her guest book online before coming to the funeral home and make a donation to Wings Home.

Mary Lou Patterson