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.