Mary Olendorf, 94

Mary Olendorf (nee Gillies) died on June 9, 2018, in South Haven, peacefully in her home. Mrs. Olendorf was born on May 26, 1924, in Bessemer, to her parents, Whitford and Zilpha Gillies.

Her secondary education was completed at the St. Agnes Episcopal School in Loudonville, N.Y. She graduated from Columbia College in Chicago later in life.

She married William Carr Olendorf in 1944. Mr. Olendorf was a former advertising executive and a respected painter and illustrator. She and her husband visited Saugatuck after the Second World War and fell in love with the community and area. They purchased a Saugatuck Township, Lake Michigan cottage in 1952 that has remained in the family.

Mary taught Scenic Design at Barat College of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Ill. Additionally, she was a principal with a group of investors who owned the Red Barn Theatre in Saugatuck, in the 1970s-80s. She also was the executive producer for The Legend Theatre in South Haven. Mrs. Olendorf was a long time and enthusiastic member of both the Illinois and Michigan Community Theatre Associations (CTAM).

Mary and Bill were devoted to the arts. Mary especially adored the theatre and her husband loved to paint. The Red Barn Theatre and The Ox-Bow School of Art were a significant and enduring part of their life. “Art is Long and Time is Fleeting.”

Mrs. Olendorf is survived by her children, William Jr. (Barbara) and Donald (Renee); her sister Elizabeth Boyd; grandchildren, Julie Risher (Bill), Jennifer Mason (Bill), Krista Willertz (Chris), Sonja Skerbeck (Jamie) and Eric Olendorf (Megan); and 11 great-grandchildren, Raegan Willertz, Josh Mason, Alec Willertz, Joseph Skerbeck, Maria Willertz, Sophia Skerbeck, Nicholas Skerbeck, Emma Olendorf, Andrew Olendorf, Matthew Olendorf and Charlie Olendorf.

She was also preceded in death by her husband Bill; daughter-in-law Ann Olendorf (Donald), her grandson Mark Olendorf (Bill Jr.) and great-grandchildren, Mitchell and Philip Mason (Jennifer).

When she passed, her son Donald, granddaughter Sonja, daughter-in-law Renee, and Renee’s daughter Carmen, surrounded her in love. She was particularly blessed with the skilled and loving presence of her caretaker Micheala Miller.

Humility and optimism were her greatest strengths. She had many friends who found her passionate, creative and charming.

“Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Mrs. Olendorf will be buried in a private ceremony at Plummerville Cemetery. A memorial service will be at The All Saints Episcopal Church, 252 Grand St., in Saugatuck, on Tuesday, June 26, at 1 p.m. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Mary’s life. A luncheon will follow. 

In lieu of flowers, please donate to Christian Neighbors Inc. 100 St. Peters Drive, Douglas, MI 49406



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