Mary Alice James

Mary Alice James passed away peacefully in her sleep in the presence of family February 13, 2021 at Neuvant House of Lawrence after a long and valiant battle with Alzheimer’s dementia.

Mary was born on September 7, 1940 in Lawrence, KS, the daughter of Frank and Dorothy (Armstrong) Speicher. She married Lawrence (Larry) Henry James on August 22, 1958 in Lawrence, Ks, becoming a life partner with him in love, family, and business for some 61 years- an inseparable team. Larry preceded her in death on May 16, 2020.

Mary in a word was Elegance. Strikingly beautiful, yet ever modest. A loyal and faithful wife, mother, daughter, and friend- yet motivated by selfless love, not obligation. Sentimental and tender, yet with little tolerance for laziness or disorder.

While her elegance manifested in so many areas, a few rise to the top. As a homemaker she was driven to have an impeccable domain on every front. Tidy was never the goal, rather a relentless pursuit of an uncluttered deep- clean. Streak-free windows, straight vacuumed carpet lines, beds made daily (and tight), a formally set table for evening dinners, organized cabinets, pantries, and closets. She willed wrinkleless laundry where no clothing, regardless of how close to the skin it was to be worn, fell beyond the rule of her iron. The yard, the garden, the garage, the car, the office…. all in order, at all times, no exceptions.

Mary was a skilled bookkeeper for both the family business (Larry’s Auto Supply) and personal finances. She effortlessly balanced check books and budgets to the penny, with the breakneck grind of a ten-key adding machine- a sound that probably still resonates in the walls of their home and business…and we wonder, maybe now in heaven? Additionally, she was the home & business administrator/curator of all things legal, insured, recorded, tagged, or filed.

Mary was also a phenomenal baker, most notably pies which sadly cannot be perfectly replicated. No matter the event, be a bake sale, family reunion or thanksgiving dinner, her pies were the first to go. One learned to get in the line early to have a slim chance at winning the pie lottery. Just the thought of a slice of her lemon meringue to those blessed to experience one, makes the mouth water.

If the ultimate goal for all individual people is to make the world better, Mary more than succeeded. In fact, we think she would have been presented the purple ribbon- that of course she would promptly store away in an obscure box stacked neatly where no one would see it. She just had that rare kind of Elegance. Elegance her family and the world in some mysterious way will miss.

Survivors include her children Ronda (Jeff) Riner, Randy (Robyn) James and Rachelle Vigna. Seven grandchildren- Kevin (Emily) Riner, Eric (Kelli) Riner, Katie (Clarke) Fry, Kara (Chris) Day, Kylie James, Ashlyn Vigna, and Raelyn Vigna. Four great grandchildren- Oscar Riner, Brody Riner, Pierson Fry (James) and Juliette Fry (James). Mary was preceded in death by her brother Joe Speicher.

Mary will be lying in state on Thursday, February 18, 2021 from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm with the family present from 5:00 pm ~ 7:00 pm at Warren McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS

A public graveside service will be held at 2:00 pm, Friday, February 19, 2021 at Memorial Park Cemetery in Lawrence. Please be aware that due to COVID-19 and safety precautions, we are asking people to respect and comply with social distancing and must wear a mask. If you prefer, you may stay in your vehicle at the cemetery and listen to the service on your radio station 89.7 FM provided by Warren McElwain Mortuary.

Memorial contributions may be made in Mary’s name to Neuvant House of Lawrence and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.




17 Condolences

  1. Shirley Anderson on February 13, 2021 at 9:28 pm

    Randy, Rhonda, Rachelle and families, you are in my prayers. Mary was a beautiful person and I cherish the many memories that Mary and Larry and Dennis and I enjoyed for thirty-one years. Their love for one another was special and now they are together again in Paradise. Love and Hugs to each of you.

  2. Linda Fritz on February 14, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Rachelle, Rhonda and Randy, we are sorry about your loss. Our thoughts and prayers to all. Aunt Linda, Ann, Bobbi Jo ND Scott

  3. Bob and Eddie Hoffman on February 14, 2021 at 10:10 am

    I’m so very sorry for your loss of your mom. I think so much of you and your mom and dad. God be with you and your family!❤️????

  4. Janet Burnett Huchingson on February 14, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    This is how I remember your mom from our high school days, always a sweet smile. She was a lovely person. I send my sympathy for your loss.

  5. Rosale M. Banks and James R. Banks Jr. on February 14, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    Our condolences for your loss.

    Good neighbors are hard to come by, Mary and Larry will be missed.

    Your neighbors to the west.

  6. Aimee Hunt on February 15, 2021 at 11:39 am

    Rachelle and family, So sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Your mom is now at peace and back with your dad but I know it is still hard. I pray for strength for you during the next few days. Please let me know if I can do anything. Sincerely, Aimee

  7. Patti Essman ESSMAN on February 15, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Rachelle,Ronda,and Randy,
    I am truly sorry about the loss of your mother,I did not get to meet her,but I’ve heard lots of good stories from Rachelle, so I feel like i knew her.Both your parents sounded amazing. And full of love i know you’ll miss them but always remember there together with God in a happy place walking hand in hand,with a beautiful smile on there face.Take care of each other as they would want you to. I pray God give you all peace,comfort, and strength from above,God bless you all.
    Patti Essman

  8. Lisa Edgerton-Johnston on February 17, 2021 at 8:07 am

    Rhonda, Randy and Rachelle
    Sorry for your mother’s loss. She was a sweet lady. May your memories comfort during your grief.

  9. Nancy Vogel on February 17, 2021 at 4:13 pm

    I am remembering Dorothy, Larry, and now Mary,

    It has been an honor to know such a fine family, so cohesive, stalwart, and always positive. May you be comforted in your great loss.

    My condolences,
    Nancy Vogel

  10. Brian Pearson on February 17, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Rhonda, Randy and Rachelle, so sorry to hear about your mom’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  11. Lorie and Rick Sawyer on February 17, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Ronda, Randy, Rachelle and family – Our hearts are broken for you. Your Mom’s suffering is over and she is resting in the arms of our Lord. Praying the Lord will give you each strength and peace in the days ahead. Always enjoyed your Mom and her laugh! I know you will miss her dearly! With our love and prayers

  12. Bryan Wyatt on February 18, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Ronda, Randy and Rachelle- I hope you find peace in knowing that your mom and dad are back together again. We all have missed your mothers smile and laughter due to this dreaded disease. Your dads laugh and your moms smile is something I will miss the rest of my life. RIP Mary and Larry James.

  13. Gary Crowe on February 19, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    Julie and I are so very sorry for your loss. If there is anything we can do, please do not hesitate to let us know. Keeping the entire family in our thoughts and prayers.

  14. Freida Kimball Green on February 27, 2021 at 10:45 am

    Just read about Mary’s death. I was lucky enough to have went all the way to through elementary, middle and graduate from LHS with her. My condolence to all her family. Sad news.

  15. Sue Midyett on February 27, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    Sue Squires Midyett

    So sorry for your loss. Mary always had a smile and friendly words I remember her with those characteristics from high school

  16. Judy Demos Crossfield on February 27, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    I remember Mary as she always was: perfection. In her appearance, her beauty, and her friendly face. She was so pretty and always had a smile to go with “hello”. A sweetie top to bottom!

  17. Penny Sommerville Schoerner on February 27, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    Mary and I sat next to each other as sophomores in the Lawrence High band, playing our clarinets. I always enjoyed being with her. I moved away from Lawrence and didn’t stay in touch to my regret. My sympathy is with her family.

Leave a Condolence