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Life Story / Obituary
Although she could be quite feisty and her strong willed nature got the best of her at times, Mary Conlan was a loving presence by all who knew and loved her. Mary was generous with her time and talents, and treasured her many friendships. Never one to be interested in possessions, Mary collected friends rather than material things. Above all, she cherished her family and in them she found her greatest joy.
Mary’s story began during a time of economic prosperity as industry and the need for consumer goods rose. While Gershwin and Berlin dominated the music sector, men in their pan hats strolled along with swank and swagger and were quite a match for the belles of the infamous Roaring Twenties, the flapper. At the same time, Ellis Island closed its doors as an immigration entry point leaving behind numerous memories of promises for better tomorrows. Yet nestled in the northern West Virginia community of Stewartstown, George and Madge (Shears) Neighbors were elated to announce the birth of their little girl, Mary Elizabeth born on July 30, 1924.
The oldest of five children, Mary was later joined by her younger siblings, George Jr. “Rusty”, Merle, Frank, and Jane. Raised in the small borough of Point Marion, Pennsylvania where her family made their home, Mary’s father worked for the railroad while her mother remained at home as homemaker.
Mary enjoyed a childhood typical of her generation although her family, like many, struggled through the Great Depression as times proved to be lean and troublesome. As a family they never had much in the form of material possessions, yet matters of the heart came to be what they valued most which Mary carried with her through all of her days.
Having attended the area schools where she enjoyed the friendships of many, Mary went on to graduate from Point Marion High School with the Class of 1943. News of the day included the travesties of World War II which seemed far removed from her corner of the world until she met a handsome young man by the name of George Deal.
Mary met George, who lived about eight miles away, while working at one of the local restaurants in town. Even though she always refused, George never failed to ask Mary out on a date until one rainy night when she finally agreed for him to pick her up after work. Before long they developed a dating relationship, but with U.S. involvement in World War II, George was soon sent overseas. Upon his return home, he and Mary were happily married on July 27, 1947, just three days shy of Mary’s 23rd birthday.
Soon after, Mary and George made their way to Vicksburg, Michigan when a service buddy of George’s wrote to him and told him about job opportunities there. When they first came to Vicksburg they lived on the Harsha family farm until they found a place to call their own. In time they built a home on Division where they shared memorable times with their four children, Roy, Nancy, Don, and Mary Ruth.
Mary made a good home for George and their kids. She loved to cook and bake, and was known for her delicious homemade pies. One family favorite included her TEA-Ring cake she made at Christmastime, and her homemade apple butter was the best. Mary especially loved the season of Christmas. Her favorite time of year, Mary so enjoyed having her family gather where through the years wonderful memories were made and shared.
When George passed away in 1966, it was indeed a troubling time for Mary. However, with her positive nature, she knew no other way than to pull herself up with the love and support of family and friends. Mary worked at various place over the years including Hill’s Pharmacy and Paul’s Drive-In. For many years she worked in the cafeteria at the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company until she eventually retired. After retiring, she sold cosmetics, and became lasting friends with many of her clients.
Love was not lost for Mary. Larry Conlan was a longtime family friend, and following the death of his wife, both of their families encouraged Mary and Larry to get together. The best of companions, they enjoyed many shared interests and they soon married in 1973. After eight years of marriage, Mary sadly lost Larry when he passed away in 1981.
Through the years, Mary loved to travel. She particularly loved warm weather places, but by far her favorite place to go was back home to Pennsylvania. In her free time Mary dabbled with her artistic side. Quite an artist, she liked painting, and she also painted many sweatshirts for her family. She was fond of crafting, and liked decorating Christmas bulbs with artistic flair. With her love of the big bands, it went hand-in-hand with her love for dancing, and well into her later years. She knew her way on the dance floor, and loved every minute of it. She became special friends with Charles Carr. Together they went out dancing several times a week and she really enjoyed his company in the many things they delighted doing together. Sadly, he passed away in 2011.
There was so much to love about Mary. A strong willed woman, she had a feisty side but it was just another reason to love her all the more. Generous in all ways, Mary focused on important thins, like leaving a lasting impact in the hearts of others. She knew what mattered most, and lived each day with a positive outlook. Deeply missed, her memory will continue to be a treasure in the lives of those who knew her best.
Mary Elizabeth Conlan, of Vicksburg passed away on Sunday, December 13, 2015 at the age of 91. She is survived by her four children: Roy (Linda) Deal, of Kalamazoo; Nancy Shilts, of Kalamazoo; Don Deal, of Scotts; Mary Ruth (Steve) Eberstein, of Portage; one stepson, Bill Conlan, of Constantine; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Jane Raymond, of Uniontown, PA. She is preceded in death by her first husband, George Deal; second husband, Lawrence Conlan; and companion Charles Carr; stepdaughter, Denise Cook; and by her three brothers: Frank, George Jr. “Rusty”, and Merle Neighbors.
The funeral service for Mary will be held on Thursday, December 17, 2015, 1:00 PM at the Vicksburg United Methodist Church with Reverend Buff Coe officiating. Her family will receive friends at the church beginning at 11:00 AM. Burial in Vicksburg Cemetery. Please visit Mary’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you sign her guestbook and share a memory and/or photo. Those who wish may make contributions to Rose Arbor and/or Vicksburg United Methodist Church.