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Mary (Gillies) Olendorf

May 26, 1924 ~ June 9, 2018 (age 94)

Mary Olendorf (nee Gillies) died on June 9th in South Haven, Michigan peacefully in her home. Mrs. Olendorf was born on May 26th, 1924 in Ironwood, Michigan 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 Illinois. Additionally, she was a Principal with a group of investors who owned the Red Barn Theatre in Saugatuck, MI in the 1970s-80s. She also was the Executive Producer for The Legend Theatre in South Haven MI. 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); 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) and 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 in Plummerville Cemetery. A memorial service will take place at The All Saints Episcopal Church at 252 Grand Street in Saugatuck Michigan on Tuesday June 26th at 1:00 PM. 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, Michigan 49406

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