The angels stamped the passport of Mary Alice Smith to enter the Kingdom of God on the morning of April 5, 2021. She was born to John and Estella Schrader on December 3, 1926, and was raised in Wyatt, Indiana. At a very young age, she experienced the death of her sister, Helen, and at age 12 she lost her mother. The Great Depression was challenging for anyone, but not even being a teenager yet with a disabled younger brother to care for and a farmer father and household to tend was an overwhelming responsibility for a young girl. Still, she made companionship with her cousins and schoolmates who loved her and gave support. At age 15 her father married a lady from Nappanee, Madlean McClain, who became her new stepmother--- loving and caring for her as her own daughter. Following graduation from Madison Township School, Madlean encouraged my mother to apply for nursing school. She was accepted and attended the St. Joseph School of Nursing in Mishawaka, graduating as an RN. Her first place of employment was for Dr. Robert Joest. He and his family became fast friends and his children are in contact yet today. Former patients still recognize her from the office!
After that, she worked at St. Joseph Hospital in Mishawaka where she met my father while opening the morgue to transfer a deceased individual to the funeral home. The rest is history! My parents’ marriage took place at the First United Methodist Church in Mishawaka in April of 1949. Shortly afterward they started their family with Rebecca and later, Dawn. During those early years she transferred to St. Joseph Hospital in South Bend, working in the obstetrics department and later becoming head nurse. Upon the closing of that department, she accepted a job with the St. Joseph County Health Department and found herself checking heads of school children for lice, investigating dog bites, or inspecting nursing facilities.
She celebrated her retirement from public health in 1986. At that time my parents discovered their wings and enjoyed many trips and cruises, both nationally and internationally. They were most fond of Germany and had retraced army treks of my father from war days. Winter dwellings were spent in Florida. They were always entertaining guests or attending the Mishawaka High School Alumni gatherings just down the road---even though neither one of them graduated as a Caveman. A Habitat for Humanity volunteer, United Methodist Women’s Circle member, Bashor Home Women’s Auxiliary member, American Cancer Society volunteer, team member for making Braille Bibles, euchre player (even beating her daughters in the middle of dementia!), regular walking, needlework, and a host of other involvements never found my mother idle. If there was no one around she could always be found with a broom in her hands!
She and my father lived at Tanglewood Trace for three years. In the fall of 2019, my father passed, and Covid was raising its ugly head. She transferred to Heritage Place, but with such severe restrictions, she moved in with her daughter after two months. Never wanting to inconvenience anyone, she was a very gracious companion. In spite of life throwing quite a few lemons in the past few years, we had some very delicious lemonade these last 8 months of her life.
Her parents and stepmother; sister, Helen; brothers, Jim Schrader and John Schrader Jr.; and granddaughter, Julie Woodley preceded her in death and were on the welcoming committee waiting at the gates of heaven for Mary Alice Smith. Her daughters, Rebecca Smith and Dawn Auten; son-in-law, Brad Auten; and sister, Barbara Koehler waved our “until-laters” as she stepped into the arms of Jesus, Jim, and Julie. Granddaughters, Aurelia Smith and Jessica LeBlang; as well as four great-grandchildren survive.
We extend our heartfelt love and appreciation to Southern Care Hospice, especially to Van, Kennedy, and Heather. Their help and support were invaluable. Always Best Care deserves a thank you as well.
Funeral arrangements have been made through Hahn’s Funeral Home with visitation at First United Methodist Church of Mishawaka on Thursday, April 8th from 10:00 am until the service at 11:00 am. Kindly wear a mask and observe Covid guidelines. Donations may be sent to a scholarship fund at Bethel College Dept. of Nursing or Sr. Maura’s Medical Clinic on Chapin Street for a nursing scholarship in Haiti in honor of Carla Bice.
The next time you see a plane, a helicopter, a hot air balloon, or a blimp---look again. There should be two passengers waving at us---my father and his “bride.”
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