Mary Ellen Spreitzer

Born: 05/02/1944 Passed:

Mary Ellen Spreitzer, beloved wife and mother, cherished friend, and legendary baker of pies, passed away on Friday, November 26, 2021, surrounded by her loving family.

Mary was born on May 2, 1944, in St. Louis, MO, and raised in Bloomington, IL. She was a gifted student, graduating from Bloomington High School before attending the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She successfully pledged Kappa Alpha Theta and later claimed she only made the cut because the sorority needed to recruit “some nerds to raise the house grade point average.” It was at a sorority tea that she met Jim Spreitzer, a handsome upperclassman on the swim team with whom she would spend the rest of her life. Her twinkling blue eyes, quick wit, easy smile, and infectious laughter made her easy to love.

Their happy marriage started in 1965 in the suburbs of Chicago where they had four children. In 1976, Mary, Jim and the kids moved to her mother’s family farm in southwest Missouri. Mary went back to school, earning a Bachelor of Science degree at Southwest Missouri State University in 1984 and starting her career as a clinical microbiologist. The couple retired to South Louisiana as they embarked on their 50th year of wedded bliss in 2015. The move gave them more opportunities to bask in the company of their grandchildren and enjoy the pleasures of Acadiana culture and weather. Mary’s ebullient personality, inquisitive nature, kind heart, and generous spirit earned her many close friends along the way. Her considerable talents in her profession, as well as in the kitchen, garden, and craft room earned the respect and admiration of all. A favorite of church fundraisers, Mary’s famous pies were always in demand.

Mary’s capacity for love was limitless and she always made time to help others. In addition to raising her four children, she also hosted several foreign exchange students and foster children. She adored her children and grandchildren and enjoyed traveling with them on extended RV trips across the United States. She was always happy to help a friend and to make a new one.

She is survived by her beloved husband, James Spreitzer, of New Iberia, LA; son Charles and his wife Gretchen, of South Haven, MI; daughter Jennifer and her husband Jon Aronoff, of Bethesda, MD; daughter, Sarah McCalla and her husband Andrew, of Austin, TX; and her baby Amy Windsor, of Lafayette, LA; her brothers, George O’Neil, Jr., of Boca Raton, FL and Michael O’Neil, Sr., of LeRoy, IL; as well as nine grandchildren, Alice, Cooper, Katie, Eden, Lydia, Stuart, Angus, Ian, and Noah. Preceding her in death were her mother and father, Dr. George and Mrs. Birch O’Neil, of Bloomington, IL; and brother-in-law Fred Spreitzer, of New Iberia, LA.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, at 2 p.m. at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, 2514 Old Jeanerette Road in New Iberia, LA. A reception and Celebration of Life will follow.

In lieu of flowers, mourners can honor Mary’s memory and her giving spirit by ensuring that someone else’s day is brighter and their stomach fuller at the St. Francis Diner, where she was a longtime volunteer. Checks can be sent to St. Francis Diner, P.O. Box 9106, New Iberia, LA 70562


5 Tributes to Mary Ellen Spreitzer

  1. Deborah Hirsekorn says:

    Mary was my first cousin on my mother’s side. I remember visiting my aunt and uncle and always was in awe of Mary’s beauty inside and out.
    Although we lost touch in later years I had such a fondness for the stories my mother told me and the love she had for her sister who helped so many including my mom. From all the things I have read about her contributions and caring in life I know she gave just like her mother did many years before. Please know that my prayers are with the entire family during this difficult journey. With love, Deb Hirsekorn

  2. Jan Stapp says:

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady.

  3. Julaine Schexnayder, New Iberia, LA says:

    Her laugh. It was warm, real, and frequent. Joy seemed to fill her life.
    No favor went I repaid. Soon cookies or a pie would follow. It was hard to get the neighborly exchange in her favor.
    I will miss our over-the-back fence conversations about anything and everything. During the past year or so it was more often telephone calls lasting over 30 minutes, not wanting to spread any viruses, etc.
    I’ll think of Mary and recall her warm hug just before leaving for the hospital. We will try to keep Jim busy between his long bike rides.

  4. Amy Windsor says:

    A poem from a friend and son of one of Mom’s best friends, written upon learning of her passing. Thank you for capturing Mom’s magic, Sami Haggood, and for being such a dear friend, Cynthia Carter.

    “Now About the Pie…”

    Can we talk about the pie?
    What did that woman DO in that kitchen?
    Good God.
    It went beyond science. It was alchemy! Magic. And it wasn’t until this all happened that I realized it was actually just love. The simplest, rarest, most precious ingredient you could ever find in her pantry.
    And the only one she was heavy handed with.
    You could taste it in everything she made, see it in everything she did, feel it in every smile she gave. What a treat. Don’t you agree? What a treasure. Who would have thought that a slice of pie could tell you about a person’s heart and soul, or of the tenacity and strength of their love?
    Crossing boundaries like gender, race, and orientation because those classifications didn’t matter to her. Mrs. Mary, the chemist, the alchemist, looked at the composition of every human being she ever met and determined that that didn’t matter. None of that mattered.
    What mattered was the pie!
    And sharing it!
    And giving everyone she met a healthy slice of a love she’d cultivated for almost a century in the laboratory of her wondrously kind imagination. Thank you for that Mrs. Mary.
    It was heaven in every bite!

  5. Ed and Kathy Kral says:

    Special Memories of Mary Over the Years:
    Fall of 1962, Jim’s Senior year at Illinois, he met Mary at a sorority exchange and the rest is history !
    Mary lovingly babysat Ed, III so Kathy could return to work. Mary was practicing as she was pregnant with Charlie.
    Early years, we enjoyed progressive dinners with Jim and Mary and two other couples who were ATO friends. Dinner at the Bakery, a famous Chicago restaurant was memorable when the trout Mary ordered slid off the waiter’s tray onto the floor!
    When they moved to the farm in Missouri, Kathy was only friend that visited them in the old farm house with the mice and scorpions more than once.
    Loved bottle feeding baby calves and bathing the peke when she came in from herding cows.
    Of course, Mary’s wonderful pies are sweet memories but her kind, loving hospitality will forever be missed the most.
    She was a wonderful friend. May she rest in peace.

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