Mary J. Spaeth, 94, of Zion, IL passed away peacefully September 24, 2021, at her daughter's house with her family by her side.
Mary was born on March 19, 1927 in Sv. Rok, Croatia. She fled the war-torn country as a teenager. While in a refugee camp in Germany she met an American soldier who just by chance spoke some Croatian. He was able to help her reunite with her father who worked in the United States for the North Shore Railroad.
She immigrated to the United States in 1946. She was only 19 years old when she arrived at Ellis Island. She attended Mother of God School where she learned to speak English. She was very proud to become a citizen of the United States of America in 1951.
She married her husband, Karl Spaeth, in 1955 at Our Lady of Humility Church, where they were charter members. Together they established and operated Spaeth's Custom Woodworking in Zion. In 1980 they celebrated their 25th anniversary with a vacation to visit Karl's family in Germany. Upon their return, her life was turned upside down when Karl, the love of her life, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died 5 months later at the age of 54. She longed to be reunited with her husband.
Mary and her son, Carl, continued the family business for many years after her husband's death. Mary devoted her time to her family, cooking amazing meals, watching her precious grandchildren and baking delicious chocolate chip cookies. Her passion was crocheting beautiful lace doilies for her family.
These doilies will be cherished for generations to come. Mary was blessed with 10 wonderful grandchildren and was proud to cheer them on at baton competitions, soccer games, t-ball games, and band concerts.
God has also blessed her with 21 great-grandchildren which brought her so much joy to be able to hold and love. Mary is survived by her children, Mary Ann (Rich) Pawelko of Crystal Lake, Carl (Laura) Spaeth of Zion, Jane (Ricky) Woods of Winthrop Harbor, and Christine (Scott) Richardson of Cape Coral, FL. The grandchildren, her pride and joy, Karl (Megan) Spaeth, Daniel (Jessica) Woods, Kristi (Matt) Karner, Amanda (Mike) Lemm, Kaitlin (Chris) Kincaid, John, Russell, Tom, Andrew, and Rachel Pawelko. Great-grandchildren, Benjamin, Magnolia, Elliott, Austin, Alexa, Adalynn, Jameson, Logan, Camden, Destiny, Kara, Luke, Ava, Harley, Greysin, John, Charlie, Aiden, Autumn, Kenlee and Luna.
She was preceded in death by her loving husband, Karl; her parents, Luka and Stana Krpan; and brothers, John and Mark Krpan; and her beloved twin brother, Joseph. The family would like to give special thanks to our dear friend and caregiver, Priscilla McGullam. Her tender loving care made it possible for us to honor mom's wish to remain in the home her and dad built.
And thanks to Advocate Hospice for their compassionate care and support. Visitation will be Thursday, September 30, 2021 from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. at the Congdon Funeral Home, 3012 Sheridan Road, Zion. Mass of Christian burial will be held on Friday, October 1, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Humility Church, 10655 W. Wadsworth Road, Beach Park. Interment will follow at Ascension Cemetery, Libertyville, IL. The family is requesting donations be made to Our Lady of Humility Church in her name.
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