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Trinity Congregational Church

Life Story / Obituary


Nothing brought Mariann Dean greater joy than caring for and spending time with family, her top priority. She freely gave of her time and talents without being asked, or expecting anything in return. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 2, 1923, Mariann was the daughter of Roy George and Theresa (Allen) Hill. She joined her older brother, Robert, and her sister, Esther, sadly died of diphtheria at the age of two. The youngest in their family, Maxine soon followed.

Her father was an oil company salesman and they moved often, but Mariann primarily grew up in Grand Rapids, and her childhood was not easy. When she was eight, her father left their family and she did many of the household chores. Her mother worked two jobs to support them at a time when the Great Depression already caused great struggles. They learned to get by on very little, which led to Mariann’s lifelong pattern of saving things. So true of her generation, she never wanted to part with anything.

Mariann went on to attend Union High School. Her brother had a friend, Donald Dean, and he and Mariann took notice of one another, but she didn’t care for him much. In fact, she couldn’t stand him! In time she thought otherwise, and they soon began dating. In love and engaged, she hid their engagement from her mother for some time, and lost her ring in the process. She eventually shared the news with her mother, and on February 7, 1942, the couple was happily married.

Mariann and Don lived in Detroit when he worked for the Ford Motor Company. However, she returned home when her beloved Don was drafted to serve in the U.S. Navy during WWII. She lived in a trailer in front of her mother’s home for a while, raising their daughter, Donna Jo. When Don returned, they bought a house on Butterworth and eventually moved to their longtime home on Walker, near Four Mile Road. They soon welcomed a second daughter, Susan, and Mariann loved being at home raising their girls. For many years she also provided loving care for her sister, Maxine. Mariann was very organized around the house, but cooking was not something she enjoyed much.

When Don started his own business, Dean Boiler, Inc., Mariann ran the office, answered calls, made appointments and did all the bookkeeping. Mariann was very artistic and loved doing crafts, too. Whenever she put her hand to something, she gave it her all. Even her doodling turned into beautiful artwork, and she made gorgeous sun catchers with her love of stained glass. Mariann had quite an eye for the ornate. She liked things in their place, and was quite proper when it came to manners, yet as a down-to-earth woman, she never expected perfection from her grandchildren whom she loved dearly. She and her grandchildren enjoyed doing crafts together, and her home was always welcome to them.

Through the years, Mariann and Don enjoyed a cottage in Bitely, Michigan on the banks of the south branch of the Pere Marquette River. What began as a weekend getaway soon developed into their spending more and more time there. In their retirement they basically lived there, and only came back to their house in Grand Rapids when needed. Over the years their cabin grew to accommodate their growing family where fond and treasured memories were made. Mariann loved it by the river, especially with her family by her side. She took in the outdoors and found beauty in all things. Sometimes she’d even stop by the roadside to pick flowers which she’d use for crafts or to simply admire.

Loving and thoughtful, Mariann knew what her family needed. Her genuine care and kind spirit was cherished as she just stepped in to help. When choosing a gift, she was very intentional. Never elaborate, her gifts were clearly deliberate and from the heart. Although giving, compassionate and thoughtful, Mariann could spend the same amount of energy with her often times feisty nature.

Although Mariann and Don had very different interests, they were two of a kind and loved one another dearly. Needing more care, they moved into assisted living homes. When Don passed away in May of 2015, Mariann’s family seemed to know it was only a matter of time before her health failed, too. Gone but never to be forgotten, Mariann will be remembered fondly for her loving support and unconditional love of family.

Mariann Dean, age 93 of Wyoming, Michigan passed away October 4, 2015. She was preceded in death in May by her husband of 73 years, Donald Dean. Mariann will be dearly missed by her children, Donna Jo (Ronald) Insley, Susan (Dennis) Walczewski; her grandchildren, David (Sandy) Insley, Sarah (Mike) Nichols, Amy (Linda) Busby, Anne (Bo) Williamson; great-grandchildren, Jessie Nichols, Jake, Susie and Dean Busby, Owen and Carter Denslow, Noah and Ryan Williamson; great-great grandson, Trent; nieces, nephews and friends. Cremation has taken place and no public service is planned. Contributions in her memory may be made to Trinity Congregational Church. To leave a memory of Mariann and to sign her online guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.