Mary Kathryn Samelson was born on Oct. 2, 1927, in Tylertown, Mississippi. The youngest of six children born to Evelina and Thomas Jefferson Nettles, Mary had two brothers, TJ and JW, and three sisters, Hazel, Era Mae and Vera.
After graduating high school, Mary made one of the best decisions of her life. She moved to California to live with her sister Hazel and got a job as hostess at The Clifton Cafe where she met a dashing young Army Air Corps 1st Lieutenant, Joseph Samelson. They married after 10 dates. Joe asked Mary if it mattered that he was Jewish. She didn’t know what that was, but like Ruth said to Naomi, “Where you go I go and your God will be my God.”
Mary entered Joe’s life which included "Jewish." She embraced the Jewish faith and community and made it hers. She joined and was president of Sinai Temple Sisterhood. She was part of every activity and always had a meal to offer when a member of the community was ill or hurt. No dinner at the Temple was served without Mary in the kitchen. In honor of her 90th birthday, she was "Honored in her Generation" by her Sinai Temple friends. She loved the Michigan City community as well and stayed busy with Meals on Wheels and the Senior Center and she was a volunteer at St. Anthony Memorial Hospital. She received an award when a blind woman nominated her for the kindness she showed her.
After her children were grown, Mary found a career she loved. Her beautiful face was a draw to her counter as an Estée Lauder consultant. Mary loved everything she tackled and her friends were many.
Mary loved socializing and athletics. She played canasta and bridge with her neighborhood friends, Mah Jhong with her Jewish friends and bunco at the Senior Center. She played golf and tennis well into her 80s. She loved reading and was never at the Michigan City library less than once a week.
Mary and Joe had two children: Jeffrey, who is a clinical psychologist in Michigan City married to Leslie, and Cheryl, who is a retired teacher in St. Louis married to Neil Skid.
Mary loved her grandchildren: Amy Allison Woelfel, an assistant principal in Illinois, Erica Lynne Miller (Jason) a branch office administrator with Edward Jones in St. Louis, and Nathan Skid (Elizabeth) a producer in Manhattan. Mary has seven great-grandchildren: Jacob, Aaron, Caleb, Julia, Zachary, Desmond and Evelyn. Jason, Erica’s husband and Elizabeth, Nathan’s wife, gave Mary much pleasure as well.
When Mary’s beloved husband Joe was gripped by Alzheimer’s, Mary cared for him as long as she could in her home. When a nursing home was necessary, Mary was there from morning until night caring for her husband alongside the staff.
Mary became weakened and for the last year and a half of her life she lived with her daughter and son-in-law Neil in St. Louis, Missouri. She died July 2, 2019, of heart disease.
Funeral Services will be held on Monday, July 8, 2019, at 12 p.m. at Sinai Temple, 2800 Franklin St., Michigan City, Indiana, with Rabbi Tom Samuels officiating.
Burial will follow at Sinai Temple Cemetery in Michigan City.
Memorial contributions may be given in Mary’s name to Sinai Temple.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Geisen-Carlisle Funeral Home, 613 Washington St., Michigan City, Indiana.
To sign guestbook or leave condolences, please visit: www.Carlislefh.com. 219-874-4214.