Mary Jane Monteith, age 93, of Bristol, died on Saturday, October 30, 2021 at Riverside Village after a long, eventful life.
Mary was born into a farm family on Feb. 1, 1928, in Bremen, Kentucky. The youngest of seven children, she was preceded in death by her parents, W.J and Susan Stirsman; sister Willadine Robinson; brothers Shirley, Raymond, Joseph and Charles Stirsman; and Harold Wilcox.
Mary was an educator almost her entire life, beginning at age 18 in a one-room school when her rural community needed teachers. She worked her way through Western Kentucky University to earn a bachelor’s degree in education, becoming only the second in her family to go to college. She later earned a master’s degree from Indiana University-South Bend, all while teaching full time and caring for her family.
For most of her career, Mary taught in the Elkhart Community Schools, retiring from Eastwood Elementary, where she taught fifth grade. She never left her calling after retirement, coaching students in speech and even helping an adult over many weeks to learn to read. Mary’s best memories to the very end were those of her Kentucky childhood and helping all kinds of children succeed in the classroom.
She was teaching in Rockport, Indiana, when she met music teacher Phil. They fell madly in love and were married in 1954, raising three children, who loved her very much. Mary never stopped learning, and always encourage her children to try new things. She read to them and gave them a love of books, gifted family and friends with gorgeous sewing projects, shared family recipes (although no one could match Mary’s fried chicken!), and even amazed strangers training her adored Shelties to award-winning standards. She and Phil retired at age 59 and spent the following years traveling and cherishing each other’s company.
Mary was an active member of Elkhart Noon Optimist, the Indiana Extension Homemakers Association, and Central Christian Church until age and infirmities made it difficult for her to attend. Still, her faith in a loving God was always evident, even when it became difficult for her to express herself.
Mary is survived by Phil and their children: Amy (Mahmoud) Shojai; Laird (Jodi) Monteith, Gene (Sherri) Monteith; grandchildren Erin Schubert and Andrew, Colin, and Kyle Monteith; and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation for Mary Jane will be held on Friday, November 5, 2021 from 10 am until the time of the service at 12 noon all at Central Christian Church 418 W. Franklin St. Elkhart. All attendees are asked to wear masks as a precaution against COVID. The Rev. Doug Cripe will officiate and entombment will be at Rice Cemetery. Hartzler-Gutermuth-Inman Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Memorial contributions in memory of Mary Jane may be made to the Elkhart Education Foundation 2746 Old U.S. 20 Elkhart, IN 46514.
Elkhart Education Foundation
2746 Old US 20, Elkhart IN 46514