Life Story / Obituary
Determined, loving, and strong willed, Mary Anne McNees lived a faith centered life rich in family and service to others. With unwavering faith and a wonderful sense of humor, Mary embraced life wholeheartedly and inspired others to do so as well. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend Mary’s loving legacy will long be held in the hearts of many.
1928 continued to ride the decade’s roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. The nation celebrated the recent inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh’s Congressional Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased nowhere was there more hope for the future than in the Grand Rapids home of Ignatius John and Camilleia Pauline (Plomski )Szczytko as the welcomed their daughter Mary Anne into their hearts and home on May 16th.
Growing up the youngest of the Szczytko’s 16 children Mary’s life was filled with activity and companionship. While her father earned a living at a local furniture factory, her mother managed the home. Growing up the family lived on Nagold St. NW. They were proud members of St. Adalbert Catholic Church, the Szczytko household was rich in culture, faith, and solid family values, all of which served as the firm foundation upon which Mary built the rest of her life.
As a youth, Mary enjoyed spending as much time as possible with her friends. They loved going to movies, playing jacks, roller skating, sledding and ice skating in the winter, and attending dances. When not with her friends, Mary enjoyed the good company of her siblings whom she remained close to throughout her entire life.
Mary left school in the 11th grade in order to find work. With her infectious smile and willingness to work hard, Mary soon found a job working as a barmaid and waitress.
After marrying Ray Paxson, Mary gave birth to twins but only one survived, Michael. After two years of marriage, Mary and Ray divorced, and Mary began the work of building a new life as a single mother.
After some time, Mary had the good fortune of meeting George McNees. The two dated, fell in love and married. The happy couple began their life together in Grand Rapids where they soon joyfully welcomed six more children into their family: George, Victoria, Walter, James, Edward, and Donald. Unfortunately, they also lost a baby girl to miscarriage. Despite the flurry of activity that came with a large family, Mary was a meticulous housekeeper, and nothing was ever out of place. The family shared a genuine affection and was very close. They often gathered together sharing the delicious labors of Mary’s love. She was an excellent cook and was especially talented at creating delicious polish cuisine; her kielbasa, golumpkis, Kapusta, meatballs, and chop suey were unrivaled!
After moving to Howard City, Mary owned but also worked as a cook and waitress at a couple of restaurants including Mary’s Truck Stop and Chat & Chew. Many a customer enjoyed a delicious meal that was lovingly served by Mary. Over the years Mary also grew her skills as a sewer and helped with many an alteration or needed mending.
When George suffered a heart attack, it was time to return to Grand Rapids and eventually to Byron Center. Once back in the Grand Rapids area, Mary kept busy working as a cook at 6th St. Hall. Here she shared her talents in the kitchen lovingly cooking for many Polish events, weddings, and funerals.
Not only was Mary known for being extremely humble, she was also quite dignified and modest. She never wanted to be an inconvenience to others. Even in the face of George’s death in 1994, Mary was determined to care for herself in his absence. With her undauntable spirit, Mary continued to embrace life and all the things she loved. She played Bingo whenever she had the chance, visited casinos all around Michigan, attended the yearly family reunions she loved so much and played a lot of Poker. She enjoyed reading the Reader’s Digest and read the Grand Rapids Press from front to back page every day. She also indulged in the National Enquirer and Star magazines. Mary loved watching Dancing with the Stars, The Golden Girls, and anything on the Hallmark Channel; Bobby Vinton, Red Sovine and Elvis sang her favorite tunes. One of Mary’s greatest loves was the one she shared with the Detroit Tigers. Mary was a devoted Tigers fan and never missed a game; if the Tigers were playing, Mary was watching or listening. She even attended a game at Comerica Park in Detroit just last week!
Without a doubt, family was Mary’s greatest joy. She loved being a mother to her seven children, and when they began to bless her life with grandchildren, her joy continued to grow. Mary was a wonderful grandmother. She cherished each child and always looked forward to sharing time with them. Her heart’s delight was living to welcome great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren into the world. In each child’s eyes, she could clearly see the spark of her legacy and the hopes she held for the future; it was such a blessing.
For most of her life Mary was able to tend to her own needs; however, ten months ago she fell in her apartment and broke her shoulder. As a result, she moved to Heartland Health where her healing and rehabilitation could be supported in a caring community. After being diagnosed with advanced cancer several months ago, Mary was enrolled in Hospice Care. Her children and grandchildren visited her often assuring that she would spend her final days in the reflection of their love and the empathic care of the staff at Heartland Health Care Crestview. It was in the comforts of this care that Mary Anne McNees died on Saturday morning Sept 2, at 2:24 AM.
Though the world is certainly duller without Mary’s steadfast and loving light, may it afford comfort to know that her spark continues to shine in the hearts and lives of those she loved. As we each share with others the gifts that Mary gave to us with her faith, love, humor, and determination we will keep the warmth of her beautiful legacy radiating out to others. Treasured by many, Mary will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.
Mary Anne McNees (Szczytko) age 89 passed away Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband, George on July 29, 1994, and is survived by her children Michael (Karen), George (Lynda), Vicki (Tim) James (Eileen), Walter, Edward, and Donald; many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren; brother Chet, many nieces, nephews and many friends, including the staff at Heartland Health Care Crestview. Funeral Services will be held on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 4:00 PM pm at Heritage Lifestory Funeral Home - 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Visitation on Sunday from 2:00 – 4:00 pm. To read more about Mary’s life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com