Mary Alice Whiting

February 15, 1924 - January 18, 2019

Mary Alice Whiting passed away on January 18, 2019 at the Holmstad in Batavia, IL., just one month shy of her 95th birthday.  She died peacefully as the snow fell, wrapped in her mother's shawl.

Mary Alice was born on Feb. 15, 1924 in Detroit, MI to Russian immigrants Andrew and Mary Baron Mays.  An only child, Mary Alice nonetheless enjoyed a close sibling-like relationship with her mother's youngest sister, Edna (later called Charlotte), who came to live with them when Mary Alice was about 7 years old.  Mary Alice was proud to have been an alumna of Dearborn schools, especially of Fordson High School.  She was always grateful for the skills she learned and the close friends she made as co-editor of the Fordson High newspaper.

After high school Mary Alice participated in the war effort by working as the only female in the drafting department at the Ford Motor Company.  A lifelong love of drafting and precision drawing began there.  Mary Alice also attended the University of Detroit, where she cultivated a love of classical literature, theatre, and music.

After WWII a mutual friend introduced her to Air Force Captain Edmund J. Whiting.  It was love at first sight, and the two were married in 1947 in a small family ceremony in St. Petersburg, Florida.  They subsequently lived in the Washington, D.C area while Ed finished his foreign service degree at Georgetown University.  When Ed took a job with General Electric, the couple moved to Schenectady, NY.  There they embarked on the adventure of their lives building their first house with their own two hands.  To the day she died, Mary Alice always spoke so lovingly of the barn red house they built on Sacandaga Road.

Their first two children, John and Anne Mary, were born in Schenectady, but their third child, Wanita, was born after they moved back to the Detroit area.  The family lived in Southfield, Farmington, and in West Bloomfield.  But in 2004 Mary Alice - now widowed - moved to Batavia, IL to be near her older daughter.  She remained in Illinois the rest of her life, but frequently remarked on how she missed Michigan.

Ed and Mary Alice enjoyed many wonderful travels together, first to the New England area early in their marriage, then to Europe and beyond later in their lives.  Williamsburg, VA was a  favorite destination, but so, too, were the vast spaces of Arizona and New Mexico.  They loved visiting Great Britain, France, Norway, and Denmark, but were thrilled to have the chance to visit Russia, as well.  Mary Alice's lifelong dream of visiting New Zealand also came true. Her final overseas trip was taken when she turned 80, and she visited her first cousins, who she had never met, in Ukraine.

Mary Alice was an eager volunteer at her children's schools and in the various Catholic parishes she belonged to.  In the last few years of her life, she dictated many stories about her early life in Dearborn, life during the Depression, and especially about her beloved father, Andrew Mays.  Always a creative person, Mary Alice used her talents in her favorite pastimes of gardening, sewing clothes for herself and her daughters, and drawing up plans for home decorating and remodeling.  Another endeavor she was particularly proud of was designing and sewing banners to hang in her church.  The Detroit Institute of Arts held a very special place in her heart; her visits spanned her entire lifetime, from childhood into her 90s. 

 Mary Alice was a gracious woman who possessed the gift of appreciating beauty in nature and in the people she met.  She will be greatly missed by her three children, John, Anne Mary Teichert (Harry), and Wanita Forgacs (Bill), by her seven grandchildren, by her four great grandchildren, and by her aunt/adopted sister Charlotte, who she grew up with. Her family is incredibly grateful for the faith and love of the arts our mother and grandmother shared with us, but especially for her boundless loving energy, for the gift of the many years we were able to spend with her, and for being able to gather around her as she took her last breath.

Visitation will be from 3:00 - 7:00pm on Friday, Feb. 15 at Heeney-Sundquist Funeral Home in Farmington, Michigan.The funeral mass will be at 1:00 pm on Sat., Feb. 16 at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in West Bloomfield, Michigan.  Internment will follow immediately at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Holmstad Benevolent Care Fund 700 W.  Fabyan Pkwy. Batavia, IL 60510 or

Guest Book

  • Rod and Ilene Lawrence Anne Mary, we enjoyed reading about your mom's life. She was a creative, charming woman. Your mom never lost her love and zeal for life. We know you and Harry (Sandy to us 😊) will miss the privilege of living close to her for so many years and will treasure the memories. Sending our love and prayers across the miles.
  • RH To the Family. Sorry for your loss. May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived. Psalm 90:10