Where Food, Drinks & Stories Are Shared

Mary Steffler

October 23, 1923 - June 18, 2024
Kalamazoo, MI


Graveside Services

Tuesday, June 25, 2024
11:30 AM EDT
Ft. Custer National Cemetery
15501 Dickman Road
Augusta, MI 49012


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Centrica Care Navigators
7100 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 345-0273
Driving Directions
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Mary Evelyn (Schmitt) Steffler was born on October 23, 1923 in Kalamazoo, MI; the daughter of Joseph R. and Colette (Haas) Schmitt. She grew up on Milham Avenue where KRESA and a dental office now sit on farmland acquired from her family. In fact, in 1996 the farmhouse structure was moved from Milham to Sprinkle Road by American Hydrogeology to be included on their campus dedicated to preserved home structures.

Upon graduation from Portage High School at sixteen in 1940, Mary had to wait a year to be “of age” to attend Maher’s Business College. Mary supported the USO during WWII, and frequently took the bus alone to meet her friends downtown and travel out to THE FORT (Custer) for the dances. She still has her stenotype machine, which came in handy when taking dictation from Mr. Beach during her employment with Beach Products. She very much enjoyed all of her office duties which rounded out to be nine years full time, and just about as many working from home and part time back at the office. A great opportunity to have a bit of all worlds as Mother, Wife, and Secretary.

Mary took the city bus from Portage St. & Milham to Portage St. & Lane Blvd. to get to work, and a certain young man recently returned from WWII noticed the pretty girl that walked by his house everyday. As fate would have it, they were introduced through mutual friends and found themselves spending time at Maple Isle, Lake Michigan, Ramona Park and Airway Lanes.

Bill and Mary were married on July 15, 1950 and spent 48 loving years together, until Bill’s death in 1998 after a valiant struggle with ALS. As a union carpenter Bill was involved in the construction of many facilities throughout the area; his last three years as Carpenter Foreman for Kalamazoo Public Schools. They resided in Kalamazoo and Mattawan.

Mary would never pass up an opportunity to bake something, anything, cakes, cookies, pies. She was an avid microwave pioneer and liked trying new recipes. She went to most of Deanna House’s cooking classes when Deanna first came to Portage. Mary was also quite the seamstress in her day. We children were always proud, if given a compliment about an outfit, to say that our Mother made that for us. Her brother, Elden, still brags about the suit that she made for him back in the 40’s.

Mary traveled to many parts of our great country by bus and train with her girlfriends before she was married. In later years, upon Bill’s retirement they were able to enjoy many bus trips with Lapekas Tours. Her last major outing was a cruise to Alaska at the age of 81 with one of her school chums, another gal named Mary.

In 2002, Mary moved from Mattawan to Sterling Oaks Condos in Portage where she was welcomed into the neighborhood of loving and caring friends of Anna Maria Court. What a wonderful place to bridge the arc of one’s golden years of 78 to 91. Then in 2014 on to an apartment at Wyndham Independent Living for 2 years and then over to Meilland Square Memory Care in 2016.

Mary had a special love of flowers and plants, and the joy it brought looking upon their beauty in her gardens. Since Mary was a “note-to-self and list” type person it is only befitting to share a staccato, horizontal tribute list for the intended effect: Mary smiled through all life had to offer; Fair to a fault as her children will testify; Non-complainer, Not given to gossip; Loved baking over cooking, but did both well; Typing; Poetry; Sewing; Crafts; Music; Dancing; Bowling; Chocolate A#1 choice without a doubt; Followed the rules (and set a few too); Flew the flag, kept three minis in her room; Writer of cards and letters, beloved family war correspondent; Sports fan, basketball her favorite to play and watch GO PISTONS; Creative everyday, with everything; Patience of a saint; Quiet strength untold; Shy but resolute; Rosary, water and kleenex on the nightstand.

For the past several years, Mary could not say outright how old she was but did the math on paper 2021 minus 1923 equals 98 which she said with an arc in her voice, I’m that old? Yes Mother and now you are 100.8! Mary raised her hand a long time ago to love, honor, and cherish not only her husband Bill, but all in her universe of family and friends. Far and away a steadfast faith in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Mary died on June 18, 2024 at Meilland Square Memory Care where she had been a resident since 2016. Mary was preceded in death by her parents Joseph & Colette (Haas) Schmitt, two brothers Virgil and Clarence Schmitt, one nephew Douglas Schmitt. Mary is survived by four children and their spouses: Sandy (Terry) Spencer, Portage; Patti (Brian) Stoyanoff, Kalamazoo; Jim (Karla) Steffler; Shelbyville; and Tom (Marcia) Steffler; Grand Rapids; one brother Elden Schmitt, of Plainwell, one sister-in-law Mary Schmitt of Portage, several nieces and nephews.

With gratitude and grace we would like to give heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of wonderful caregivers at Meilland Square and Centrica Care, who have enriched Mary’s life with their thoughtful “assists” over the past many years. A Burial Service at Fort Custer National Cemetery will be held on Tuesday, June 25, 2024 at 11:30 a.m. Celebrate Mary’s life online by sharing your favorite stories and photos on her dedicated webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com. Memorial contributions may be made to Centrica Care Navigators.

SHE IS GONE, by Anonymous

You can shed tears that she is gone,

Or you can smile because she lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back,

Or you can open your eyes and see all she has left.

Your heart can be empty because you cannot see her,

Or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she is gone,

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,

Or you can do what she would want: