Mary G. (née Sznaider) Szczesiul, 90, died peacefully, surrounded by family and love, October 22, 2019 at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia, Michigan. Mary was predeceased by her beloved husband of 64 years, Walter John Szczesiul. Mary, a first-generation American, was born in Detroit, Michigan, March 9, 1929, daughter of Teofil Sznaider and Mary (née Mistral) Sznaider, both Polish immigrants. The third of four daughters, Mary struck her own path in life with characteristic independence. She loved the city of her birth and attended the big band shows as often as she could, regularly skipping class in high school to see Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, and others. Despite her father’s objections, Mary pursued an education and a career, completing her BA at the University of Detroit, and her Master’s of Library Science at the University of Michigan. It was while working at the Detroit Gray Branch Library, that Mary met the love of her life, Walt. They were married on August 23, 1952, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church of Detroit. Mary was a devoted, doting wife and the couple was blessed with seven wonderful children. During Walt’s retirement, they traveled the world as he worked as a Volunteer Executive with the International Executive Service Corps and Mary taught English as a second language; they loved to travel, meet new people and learn about their cultures.
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Mary was a great reader and lover of books, with a penchant for mysteries and detective fiction. She was also a writer herself, keeping notebooks and journals of her thoughts, as well as fragments and quotes from things she read or encountered in her daily life. Through these notebooks and fragments her children caught occasional glimpses of the rich interior life that was hers.
Mary was a lover of nature and enjoyed the outdoors, even if only sitting on her porch or in a backyard. She and Walter were a great gardening team and instilled this this passion in their children. She enjoyed walks and being outdoors with her children and grandchildren on trails, in parks, or the backyard.
A perpetual hostess, Mary was known for never sitting down as she entertained scores of friends and family over the years; she always welcomed and paid special attention to the unknown guest. Above all, Mary loved her family and she and Walter made sure they were well provided for and raised in a loving Christian home.
Mary’s defining challenge in her life came with the birth of her youngest child, her loving daughter Carolyn. Carolyn’s early days were marked by grave medical conditions and severe developmental delays, and she would eventually be diagnosed with Angelman’s Syndrome, an extremely rare genetic disorder of which little was known at the time. Though Carolyn presented many challenges to Walt and Mary, her exuberant and loving disposition has always been a blessing to the family, instilling in all of their children a deep sense of compassion for those without a voice.
Mary is survived by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Matthew Alexander Szczesiul and his wife Barbara of Ann Arbor, MI; Joseph Phillip Szczesiul and his wife Carmen of Bristol, TN, Mary Alison Finn (Szczesiul) of Belleville, MI, Andrew Walter Szczesiul and his wife Karen of St. Louis, MO; Karen Elizabeth Szczesiul of Lowell, MA, Anthony Edward Szczesiul and his wife Stacy of Lowell, MA,
and Carolyn Susan Szczesiul of Woodhaven, MI. Mary’s beloved grandchildren include Faye Michelle Shillair (Szczesiul) and her husband Brian of Chicago, Jillian Marie Pink (Szczesiul) and her husband Michael of Chicago, Nathan Walter Szczesiul and his wife Angela of Quito, Ecuador, Martin Matthew Szczesiul of East Lansing, MI, Naomi Maria Szczesiul and her husband William Coale of Columbus, IN, Catherine Prita
Osak (Finn) and her husband Eric of Belleville, MI, John Choi Finn of Beverly Hills, MI, Craig Walter Szczesiul and his wife Rachael of Baltimore, MD, Meghan Elizabeth Szczesiul-Sarkissian and her husband Brian of St. Louis, MO, Alex James Szczesiul of St. Louis, MO, Adelaide Agee Szczesiul of Burlington, VT, Zoe Elizabeth Szczesiul and August Emory Szczesiul of Lowell, MA. Mary is also survived by five great-grandchildren: Mila and Bryden of Faye Michelle and Brian Shillair, Isadora of Jillian Marie and Michael Pink, Darwin of Nathan and Angela Szczesiul (with another on the way), and Aven Michael of Catherine Prita and Eric Osak.
Mary was predeceased by her sisters, Sister Christine Sznaider, Wanda Gorecki and Clara Sznaider. She is the cherished aunt of many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to offer sincere gratitude and appreciation to the staff of American House Westland Joy, and St Mary Mercy Hospital of Livonia, for the patient, kind and compassionate care they provided Mary.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 23, 2019, with visitation starting at 09:30 a.m. at St. Mary Cause of Our Joy Church, Westland, 8200 N Wayne Road, Westland, MI 48185. Internment will follow at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Detroit.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Mary’s honor may be made to the
Special Olympics: https://give.specialolympics.org
For those interested in learning about Angelman Syndrome: https://www.angelman.org