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Mary Alice (Spencer) WilliamsSeptember 12, 1937 ~ September 15, 2017 (age 80)
Mary Alice Spencer Williams
Mary Alice Spencer Williams age 80, died at Kirksville Manor Care Center, Kirksville, where she had been a resident since June 2013. She had lived her life in Sullivan County and/or Milan until her husband, Omar, of 13 years entered Kirksville Manor Care and she moved to Kirksville to be near him.
Mary Alice was born to Arlene Spencer in Cook County, Illinois on August 12, 1937, and was brought home to Sullivan County, Missouri, about the age of one or two. She was raised by her wonderful ‘parents’ Leonard and Mollie (Stinson) Spencer. She remembers her siblings: Jessie, Earl, Vondell, Billy, Carolee, and Betty. They enjoyed playing and helping take care of her as she was their new little doll.
The family lived on various farms in Sullivan County (they had originally lived in the Hickory Grove Community – close to their church) but later purchased a farm southwest of Milan on Highway 5. ‘Daddy’ sold Raleigh products which included many vitamins which helped her grow and made her stronger. She was soon able to sit up and then began to walk. Times were hard during and after the depression. It was very difficult raising, feeding and clothing eight children.
Mary attended rural schools for eight years (she remembers being sick during the 3rd or 4th grade and missed much school—her parents wanted to hold her back but her teacher didn’t agree, so she was always behind). She graduated from Maggart Grade School in 1952. Leonard and Mollie had to move to Milan due to Mollie’s health before Mary graduated but she continued to walk to school until she graduated eighth grade. (Many neighbors were wonderful about taking her home as she walked back to Milan each evening) Mary went to high school in Milan graduating in 1956.
While growing up on the farm, Mary had a white horse she called Ribbon that she enjoyed riding. She enjoyed going with ‘Daddy’ on his Raleigh route. Vondell gave her some orphan lambs and a neighbor gave her some baby pigs. ‘Daddy’ taught her how to take care of her animals and told her to raise them so she could save money toward high school expenses –books and clothes. He helped her open a bank account to save her money. When she was ready to go to high school in Milan, her great aunt Allie McCormick made her clothes with fabric ‘Mom’ helped her pick out with money from her savings. Aunt Allie did much sewing and didn’t even need a pattern which really impressed Mary Alice.
Mary enjoyed helping her parents in their garden, raising chickens, gathering eggs, milking cows, and helping with the beef cows while they were on the farm and helped with the garden in town. ‘Daddy’ took her out to the farm and taught her how to drive. After graduating high school, she worked at the county home for a year and then at the Stanley Hotel in Milan. Then she moved to Des Moines, and worked in a hospital when Carolee and Bill lived there. While in Des Moines she attended many country music shows and has many signed pictures by some of the greatest country artists. Then ‘Daddy’ called and asked her to come home and help him care for ‘Mom’. After ‘Mom’ passed away she continued to lived with her ‘Daddy.’
Banquet Foods started a new factory in Milan just a few blocks from her home and she worked there for twenty years where she had many wonderful friends. But when “Daddy’s” health was failing, she retired (after 20 years) as she said, “My ‘Daddy’ is not going to a nursing home.” She enjoyed helping and taking care of him.
After he died she delivered Meals on Wheels in the community. Then in 1996 she went to Chicago to help care for Arlene and while she was gone Omar Williams was delivering her meals-on-wheels and he heard many great things about Mary. He wanted to meet her and when he did, they enjoyed spending time together.
Over Christmas, Omar was in Arkansas visiting his daughter, Marsha, and he told her about Mary Alice and Marsha told him to call her. Omar called and asked Mary to marry him. She agreed! They were married on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1997, at Mt. Moriah Primitive Baptist Church, southeast of Milan where she had her membership. Their wedding reception was at the Milan Senior Center. The KTVO television station taped the reception and aired it on their Kirksville/Ottumwa station. So Mary was married in February before she was 60 in August – what a fairy tale!! In June they took a 10 day wedding trip to Arizona, California, and all through the mountains!
Omar wanted Mary to do the many things she had never been able to before. They went deer and turkey hunting, fishing, made maple syrup, and mushroom hunting. Mary caught a large fish and Omar had it mounted for her (it still hangs in her room). They traveled to every state in the union, took a cruise to Hawaii and a pickup/camper trip to Alaska. They attended many retired military functions all over the United States. They built many wonderful memories.
Mary shared with Omar that she knew she had been treated differently by many family members but didn’t know why until she was about fourteen when she found her ‘Certificate of Birth’ and then she knew why—her parents were actually her grandparents. She had never told anyone before Omar what she had found. After they were married Omar ordered her a copy of her birth certificate! (As long as Arlene was alive, she never acknowledged Mary Alice as her daughter.) Mary Alice survived well and knew she was loved by her ‘parents’ and especially by her wonderful husband, Omar!!
Mary stated that when she and Omar were married, she “became a wife, mother, and grandmother all in one day”. They were married almost fourteen years and Mary said, “They were the best years of my life!” Omar died January 12, 2011 and was buried March 14, 2011. Mary’s last trip was to Arlington Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, to bury Omar with full military rites. Cousin Beverly Spencer Talbert and ‘sister’ Betty Spencer Hatcher went with Mary Alice to Arlington. After the burial, Beverly’s niece, Michele Thrasher (Galt) acted as guide in Washington D.C. as she lived in the area.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband, Omar Williams; mother, Arlene Spencer (Jens) Holtet; infant half-sister Karen Holtet; ‘parents’ Leonard and Mollie Spencer; ‘siblings’ Jessie (Harold) Neely, Earl (Georgia) Spencer, Vondell (Burton) Koger, and Carolee (Bill Scott)(Harry) McKinley, and brother-in-law Edward Hatcher.
Mary is survived by: half-brother, Neils (Nancy) Holtet of Rapid City, North Dakota and their three sons: Michael (Bethany) Holtet and their three children- Tegan, Stella, Axel of South Riding, VA; Alexander (Nicole) Holtet and children- William, Eleanor of San Diego, CA; Theodor (Kate) Holtet and son Royal of Fredericksburg, VA. Her ‘siblings’ Billy (Marian) Spencer of Macon, Betty Hatcher of Trenton, step-daughter, Marsha (Mark) Sadler and family; step-son, Gene Williams and daughter; plus twenty-four first cousins (especially Beverly and Ronnie Talbert, Downing) and many, many other family and friends.
Many of the staff at Kirksville Manor Care, Kirksville became special friends to Mary Alice and Beverly. They will always be remembered as very, very special people!
Visitation will be held at the Mt. Moriah Primitive Baptist Church southeast of Milan, Missouri (east on Route C and then south on Route CC) on Monday, September 18, 2017 at 10:00 am with family greeting friends. Lunch will be served at the church. Services will be at 2:00 PM at the church with burial in Oakwood Cemetery in Milan next to her ‘parents’. Arrangements are by Schoene-Ruschmeier Funeral Home in Milan. The family suggests memorials to the Mt. Moriah Primitive Baptist Church or Oakwood Cemetery.