Life Story / Obituary
Mary Louise (Sheehan) Avery passed away in her West Olive home on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. She is survived by her husband of 51 years James E. She is also survived by three children, Mary Katherine Avery and grandchildren Maureen and Augie; James J. and his wife Karen and their three children, Madison, Alec and Adam and his wife Jessica and their child Lucy Louise and Shannon Donohue and her husband Michael and their two children, Fiona and Declan. She also leaves two sisters, Sr. Susan Sheehan and Katherine O’Bryan as well as three brother and sister in laws; Dean and Sandy Avery, Marvin and Izetta Avery and Alan and Linda Avery. Her aunt, Sr. Patricia Heuer, age 102 years also remains. There are many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends that she loves and cherishes. She was preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Mickey Sheehan and an infant brother Tommy.
She graduated from Grand Haven High School in 1961 and Western Michigan University in 1965 with a teaching degree. She was a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority and had several campus leadership positions. Upon graduation she taught at Fort Custer Job Corp, Kalamazoo Alternative Education and Galesburg Augusta High School.
Jim and Mary Louise raised their family in Kalamazoo and continued to support that community after they retired to the family centennial farm in West Olive in 2002.
Mary Louise was engaged in a number of community projects in Kalamazoo that included assisting in the founding of the first hospice, and the Montessori Children’s Center and years of dedication to Meals on Wheels, She was a member of Service Club and Junior League, and on the boards of Hackett Catholic Central High School and the St. Joseph School, March of Dimes, and Interfaith Homes. She was very active in the St. Joseph Parish work and did supportive activities to advance the school.
In 1982 she became the volunteer coordinator for the local chapter of Red Cross, in 1987 she became the Director of Development for Senior Services Inc., and in 1993 Development Director of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, in 1995 Development Director for the Kalamazoo Institute of Art, 1997 Director of Development for Lakeside Treatment and Learning Center, in 2001 President of the Clark Retirement Community Foundation in Grand Rapids and 2006 Development Director for the Center for Women in Transition in Holland. In 2011 she began Avery Fundraising Consulting and worked for a number of nonprofit agencies. In 2003 she was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals and has a proud association with AFP for many years.
In recent years she has volunteered for Corpus Christi Foundation, St Francis de Sales Church, Wings of Hope Hospice, Cathy’s Chemo Caps, KAIROS West Michigan, and the Irish American Heritage Center of Chicago.
The family thanks family and friends for their prayers and support over the last few years as Mary Louise faced cancer. They ask in lieu of flowers please send a charitable donation in her memory to one of the above-mentioned charities.
The burial mass of Resurrection will be 2 pm Saturday (June 22) at St. Francis de Sales church, 171 W. 13th St. in Holland, with Father Charlie Brown officiating. The family will receive people for visitation one hour prior to the service.
Arrangements are by the Dykstra Funeral Home-Northwood Chapel.