Mary Lou (Rich) Goertzen

Mary Lou Rich Goertzen, 91, died Oct. 20, 2020, at home in “the blue schoolhouse” in Deadwood, Ore. She was born Aug. 2, 1929, to Willis Rich and Hulda Penner Rich in Harvey County, Kan.

Mary Lou (Rich) Goertzen
Mary Lou (Rich) Goertzen

She graduated from Bethel College, North Newton, Kan., in 1951. She married Ernie Goertzen, a fellow Bethel student, on July 3, 1951.

In 1965, they moved to Berkeley, Calif., where Ernie and she took art classes and began creating paintings and drawings, which they sold in art markets in Berkeley and Mill Valley. During the Berkeley years, they became committed to the anti-Vietnam War movement, including hiding soldiers in their home who had decided to become conscientious objectors.

In 1975, they decided to move their family to the country and bought an old schoolhouse in Oregon’s Coast Range.

She is probably most widely known for her delicate pen-and-ink drawings, with splashes of watercolor, of flowers, fruit and plants. In the mid-1970s, some of her art cards and prints sold at the New York Botanical Garden caught the attention of Jay Block, CEO of his family’s company, Block China. Block came himself from New York to Deadwood to talk her into putting her designs on a Block China porcelain dishware series, in production from 1980 to 1990.

Survivors include her children, David Goertzen, Anya Goertzen Lecuyer and Jonevan Goertzen; a sister, Suzanne “Mardy” Rich Osborn; and one grandson.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 53 years, Ernie; and her siblings Carol and James.

She was buried next to Ernie on their Deadwood property, in a grave dug by neighbors (as was his), in a shroud she made herself, as she also did for him.

Memorials may be given to Bethel College and Mennonite Central Committee.    

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