Monday, September 25, 2017
10:00 AM to 11:00 AM EDT
Blessed Sacrament Church
Monday, September 25, 2017
11:00 AM EDT
Blessed Sacrament Church
2275 Diamond Ave NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
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.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
To all who knew her, Mary Peck was a woman filled with pride in her family with whom she dearly loved. Resourceful and hard working, Mary was equally as loving. She valued the many friendships she formed throughout the years and always made an effort to keep them thriving. There was so much to love about Mary, and while many characteristics make up the lives of many great people, those derived from the heart are the qualities that leave a forever imprint on the hearts of others, and Mary Peck was such a woman.
The year 1928 was an exciting time in our nation’s history as the Roaring Twenties redefined the culture of America. While the entertainment industry boomed, the discovery of Penicillin forever changed the field of medicine, and legendary baseball players set astounding records on the ball fields. Although the U.S. was on the brink of the Great Depression, Peter C. and Marie (Frans) Johnson remained ever hopeful, especially on February 21, 1928, when they welcomed the birth of their precious little girl, Mary Louise into their arms.
Born and raised in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mary was the first of two children in her family as she was later joined by her younger sister, Sally. Growing up on the southeast side of the city in the area of Logan and Giddings offered a young girl like Mary a childhood typical of her generation. Her parents were both first generation Americans, whose families had immigrated from the Netherlands and Denmark, and Mary was particularly proud of her Danish heritage.
Mary attended Sigsbee Elementary School and devout to their Catholic faith, her family was members of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church where Mary received the Holy Sacraments. The years of the Great Depression created a cloud of economic uncertainty for all. During this time in Mary’s youth she began helping her family by working for her uncle at his pharmacy in Grandville. It was a long bus ride for her, yet she and her family were grateful for the added income amidst these troublesome days.
As a young girl, Mary held fond memories of traveling to Greenville often on the weekends with her family to visit extended family there. While quite young she learned to sew, a talent that served her well, and made clothes for her dolls. In her early years, Mary established several close friendships she valued and cherished for years to come. For fun, she and her friends loved going to the beach where they often stayed at the Khardomah Lodge nestled in picturesque Grand Haven.
Mary’s high school years were filled with news of war during World War II. Mary went on to graduate from Ottawa Hills High School and began working as a secretary for Traveler’s Insurance. Mary loved working, and the social aspect. With the war having come to a thankful end, a sense of hope and promise continued to fill the air. Like many young women, Mary had her own hopes and dreams for the future, which came to include a handsome young man who recently returned from the war.
One night while out with friends, Mary met Berdan “Dan” Peck and her heart was never the same. Quite smitten, the two began dating, although distance played a role in their courtship. Over the next several years, Mary continued to work while Dan attended the University of Michigan. They made trips back and forth, and along with letters and phone calls, their love blossomed. On February 3, 1951, just days before Mary turned 23, they were happily married at St. Stephens Church in East Grand Rapids. The newlyweds rented a few places before getting on their feet. Before long they purchased a home to call their own at 1028 Aberdeen where they also started their family. Over the next five years they came to welcome the births of three children, Julie, James, and Tom.
Mary was a devoted wife and dedicated mother. From the beginning, she was involved with the lives of her children at school and in their extra activities. She was an organizer and planner at heart, and always remained at the helm yet behind the scenes. Mary’s home was her domain. She made a good home for Dan and the kids, and kept everyone and everything running smoothly. Not only was Mary a wonderful wife and mother, but she was a great cook, too. She learned this skill from her mother and mother-in-law, yet she always looked for new recipes and used her own instincts to make each recipe her own.
Every summer Mary’s family spent time camping or staying in cottages with friends. Each spring they also made a trip to Saginaw to visit her sister's family. In 1961, the family moved to a house on Eleanor that Mary and Dan would call home for the rest of their lives together. She loved decorating and kept up with the current styles. Mary took much pride in her home and worked hard at keeping it well organized and maintained. While the kids enjoyed ice skating in the backyard with friends, Mary was there to serve hot chocolate. Her early talent of sewing continued through the years and she went from making doll clothes to making beautiful outfits for her daughter. Mary had an eye for detail and style. She could look at an article of clothing in a store; buy material and end up making something much better than the original.
With the kids a little older, Mary devoted more time for herself. She and Dan joined the Alpine Golf Club for a time before becoming members of the Elks Country Club. She enjoyed golfing but also the social interactions. While at the Elks, Mary golfed on a league for many years. An avid card player, she loved cards and for years was part of a bridge club.
Even though Mary loved being a mother and looking after her family, she missed working and was glad to return to work when the kids were older. She landed a job with Grand Rapids Public Schools with the Instructional Media department at Alger Elementary and then moved with the job to the Junior College for a short time before earning a secretarial position at Palmer Elementary in 1976, and working there until her retirement in 1992. She absolutely loved working there, interacting with the staff, parents and the kids along with putting her great organizational and secretarial skills to use.
Mary and Dan built a small place on Tamarack Creek in Howard City. Over the years they improved on their little weekend get-away, and it was also a favorite family gathering spot. Many priceless memories were made and enjoyed which will be treasured for years to come. Mary and Dan also loved traveling, particularly to elder hostiles and they participated in many senior bus trips over the years throughout the U.S. and Canada. In addition, great times were shared to destinations such as Florida, the Bahamas, Branson, Missouri and Solvang, California, a place known for its rich Danish heritage. As a couple, Mary and Dan were the greatest companions and a wonderful couple. They complemented one another in many areas of their lives, in addition to their strengths and weaknesses.
Mary could hardly pass up a good estate sale. She loved going to these events and could be quite shrewd in her knack for making a good deal! After setting her target, she would indeed often get it. Even so, Mary was very thrifty and financially sound. She lived by way of example, and instilled in her children one needs to have something to show for their hard earned money. She always paid cash for gas and at restaurants, and kept envelopes for budgeting and saving.
The special friendships Mary established in her younger years remained throughout her life. These friendships meant the world to her, and she did her part in maintaining them. Her friends from high school especially loved getting together for potlucks every Friday. Grandchildren also played a vital role in Mary’s life. She loved them deeply, and always fair, she never played favorites. She loved having them over to play cards and cribbage, and of course her infamous soup parties and holidays with the whole family always made for special, fun-filled times.
Mary was naturally a take charge type of person yet she didn’t care for the limelight. Very determined, she knew how to make things happen. It was simply a joy to share Mary’s company. She possessed a wonderful sense of humor, and could take it as well as dish it out! Above all, Mary’s family was her pride and joy. She loved them deeply, and in them she found her greatest achievement. Over the last several years Mary began slowing down and during the past few months her health took a turn and her quality of life was very difficult. Dearly missed, gone but never to be forgotten are the cherished memories Mary leaves behind.
Mary L. Peck, age 89 of Grand Rapids, passed away September 19, 2017. She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Berdan "Dan"; children: Julie & Mel Pastula, James Peck, Tom & Julie Peck; grandchildren: Matthew, Molly, Laura (Michael) Greene, Daniel, Anthony (Theresa), Brian (Alicia), Jonathan (Shannon), Nathan (Trista Garland), Lindsey (Sam) Adams, Melanie and Madelyn; ten great-grandchildren; sister, Sally (Chet) Andrews as well as several friends. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, September 25 at 11:00 AM at Blessed Sacrament Church, 2275 Diamond Ave. NE where friends are invited to visit with her family beginning at 10:00 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Faith Hospice are appreciated. To read more about Mary's life, to share a favorite memory or photo, or to sign her guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.