Mary Howard was a wonderful person to know and to love. Generous, compassionate, as well as a hard worker, Mary lived her life giving so much of her time and resources to the community she loved. She adored her family and loved spending time with them. Mary’s warm personality and wonderful sense of humor will be lovingly remembered and greatly missed by her many special friends and family for generations to come.
Mary Carolynn was born on October 17, 1930, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. There is no doubt that her birth brought much joy and happiness to her loving parents, Anthony and Dorothy (Day) Kersjes! The year 1930 was significantly impacted by the effects of the Great Depression. Banks were still closed but there was a promise of a new election year awaiting.
Mary arrived during tough economic times, yet she learned the value of a hard day’s work at an early age. Responsible as well as good-natured she was known to pitch in around the family home. Ambitious as well as studious, she graduated with the Class of 1948 from St. Augustine High School. No matter what she set her mind to doing, Mary always saw to it that she gave her best to any job before it was completed. With a strong desire to serve her community and her passion for others, Mary went on to obtain her bachelor's degree in social work from Kalamazoo College.
Her life long career journey followed more than fifty-six years of success as a social worker with St. Agnes Foundling Home/Borgess Hospital, Michigan Children’s Aide Society, Catholic Family Services, and twenty years as Executive Director of South County Community Services. She served on numerous local and state committees including as a Legislative Committee Co-Chair for the Area Agency on Aging. In 2003, she received the Women of Achievement Award for her outstanding contributions, record of accomplishments, leadership, and positive modeling. Over the course of her many years working in the field, she devoted herself to touching the lives of countless families and young persons. The work was exhausting yet equally rewarding.
Not to be forgotten was her first husband, Richard Piechocki. During the course of their marriage, they raised four wonderful children; Linda, Sandy, Bill, and Carol. As a mother, Mary was always very dedicated to the lives of her children. Challenged with balancing her work life and household duties, being a nurturing mother was always her top priority. Active in their lives, she was always proud of her children and wanted nothing but the very best for each of them. She was also a second mother to many of her children’s friends and opened her home to others less fortunate. A good cook, she always had a hot meal ready and made many wonderful meals over the years. She loved to make the traditional holiday meals and her family always looked forward to her delicious feasts. Mary instilled in her children the value of faith, family, and the love of animals. Mary, George, and her family were founding members of St. Catherine of Siena Church.
Mary lived her life to the fullest. She later married George Howard. For many years they shared memories traveling to Florida every May, and enjoying outdoor activities, especially swimming in their pool. Active throughout her life, Mary coached softball as well as bowled on leagues for many years. She modeled being a strong advocate for others and shared many special moments with her loved ones and close friends. May they find comfort in knowing that she held unconditional love for each of them and may her memories be eternal.
Mary Carolynn Howard, of Portage, passed away on Sunday, May 30, 2021, at the age of 90. She is survived by her four children: Linda (Phil) Piechocki-Wyngarden, of Kentwood; Sandy (Steve) Yonker, of Portage; Bill (Colleen) Piechocki, of SC; Carol Chaney, of Portage; four grandchildren: Dan Yonker, of NC; Jaime Piechocki, of FL; Sarah Piechocki, of FL; and Ali Chaney, of Portage; one great grandchild: Aiden Chaney-Massoth, of Portage. She is also survived by a close family friend, Lisa Gibbs. She is preceded in death by her husbands: Richard Piechocki and George Howard; and two granddaughters: Rebecca Yonker-Bradley and Haley Piechocki.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Monday, June 7th at 12 noon at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Vicksburg. The family will have a visitation at the church on Monday beginning at 11 am. Burial will follow the service at South Portage Cemetery.
While at Mary’s webpage on www.avinkcremation.com please take time to sign her guestbook and/or share a memory with the family. Those who wish may make contributions to St. Jude’s Children Hospital and/or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan. The family is being assisted by the Avink Funeral Home & Cremation Society, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage, MI 49002 (269)344-5600.
Please Note: The Mass at St. Martin of Tours will be webcast from the church website: https://stmartinvicksburg.org/ . A link has also been provided on Mary’s funeral home webpage under the tab of photos and video, click external webcast.