Mary Handrich

Mary Elizabeth Handrich, 98, died Aug. 11, 2021, in Valparaiso, Ind. She was born Sept. 15, 1922, to Joseph and Stella (Sharp) Lehman in Kenmare, N.D.


She was baptized at Spring Valley Mennonite Church in Kenmare. Six years after her father died in 1928, her mother moved the family to Fairview, Mich., where she graduated from Fairview High School in 1940. She studied one year at Hesston College in Kansas.

She married Willard Handrich on Dec. 31, 1941.

From 1942 to 1945, while Willard served in Civilian Public Service, she worked as a school secretary, housekeeper and nanny. They traveled to his service locations in Pennsylvania, Montana and Florida.

In 1945 they settled in Millersburg, Mich., where Willard was a partner in a seed and grain elevator business. Four years later they moved to Grand Marais, Mich., where they founded Grand Marais Mennonite Church. From 1966 to 1978, they were owner-operators of Grand Marais Industries. She led an active life as a homemaker, church worker, 4-H leader, bookkeeper, seamstress, gardener, food preserver, mother, grandmother and friend.

In retirement, she and Willard divided their time between Grand Marais and Alamo, Texas, where they volunteered, walked and bicycled in the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. They enjoyed travel, visiting numerous countries and many U.S. states, including two trips to Alaska, where she canned the salmon that Willard caught. She spent her final years in Valparaiso, where she continued her love of reading, singing and laughing until her death.

Survivors include one son, Roderick Handrich; three daughters, Carla (Vernon) Stoltzfus, Shirley (Mario) Bustos and Joetta (Gerald) Schlabach; nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Willard; a son and daughter-in-law, Eldon and Maggie (Prunty) Handrich; six siblings and their spouses, Reuel (Agnes) Lehman, Ruth (Herman) Buller, Genevieve (Ralph) Buckwalter, David (Doris) (Lola) Lehman, Ethel (Daniel) Slabaugh and Josephine (Emery) Swartzendruber.

A service of remembrance was held at Crossing Community Church, Valparaiso. A memorial service will be held in Grand Marais in summer 2022, when grandchildren will be able to gather. Memorial contributions can be directed to Mennonite Central Committee.

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