Mary Belle (Armstrong) Maier
Mary Belle (Armstrong) Maier, 97, of Merrill, died on Saturday, December 17, 2011 at Pine Crest Nursing Home under the care of Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services. She was born on November 27, 1914, in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of William and Ruth [Kavanaugh] Armstrong. Although she had lived in Evergreen Park, Illinois and in St. Petersburg, Florida, her heart had always been in Merrill, where she spent every summer at her family’s cottage on Tug Lake. Following her graduation from Lake Erie College in 1936, at a time when most young women were encouraged not to pursue a college degree, she became employed in the Commercial Department of Ohio Bell Telephone.
When the US entered World War II, Mary Belle stepped forward, volunteered for service, and was one of the very first women to enlist. She was selected for Officer Candidate School (OCS), and received her commission on August 29, 1942 with the first OCS class at the WAAC Training Center in Ft. Des Moines, Iowa. She was always proud of the fact that she was the first to receive her commission, and was leader of the 1st Platoon of the 1st Company in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (later the WACs), at a time when this kind of army service had previously only been open to men. She, and other women like her, proved many senior military men wrong, who had felt that women would prove incapable of serving under military discipline. She served her country during WWII, with the rank of Captain, as a Troop Movements, and Training, Officer, and received the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Service Medal and Ribbon. It was during her Army service that she met Dr. J. Leonard Maier, MD., her future husband, who was also serving his country as a Captain in the Army Medical Corps. She and “Lenny” were married on April 14, 1945, and were married for 60 years, until his death in 2006. After the war, Mary Belle helped set up her husband’s medical practice as a family practitioner at the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park, Illinois, and served as his office assistant, bookkeeper and all around support staff. This lasted until she and Lenny started a family, and at that point, her role was expanded to include that of mother to their three children, John, Stephen and Mary. In addition to her roles as wife, medical support staff, and mother, she was very active in her local parish church and school activities, and had many varied interests. She had a great sense of humor, and was known for her “laughing fits” which could not easily be stopped, as well as her faith in God and the power of prayer.
Survivors, whom she loved very much, include her children: Mary (Heinz) Roth of Merrill, Wisconsin, John (Terese) Maier of Roscoe, Illinois, and Stephen (Catherine) Maier, of Palos Park, Illinois; grandchildren, Brian (Jennifer) Maier, Laura (Jason) Grootens, Michael (Liz) Maier, Jennifer Maier (Rob) VanScoyoc, Kaitlin Maier, Ryan and Brad Hildebrand and Heidi and Alex Roth; great-grandchildren, Henry, Charles, Ella, Vincent, Grace, and Angelo Maier; Jakob and Julia Grootens; Rowan and Alexander Maier; Lyla VanScoyoc, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, parents and sister, Grace Vivian Rose.
Funeral mass will be at noon on Friday, January 6, 2011 at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Merrill, with Father Mike McLain officiating. Burial will take place at a later date in Arlington National Cemetery. Visitation will be on Friday, January 6, from 9:30am-11:30am., preceding the Funeral Mass, at the Waid Funeral Home Chapel.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Fisher House Foundation, 1401 Rockville Pike, Suite 600, Rockville, MD. 20852. Fisher House provides a “home away from home” for families of patients in military and VA hospitals. The Waid Funeral Home assisted the family with arrangements. On-line condolences may be made at www.waidfuneral.com.