Mary Alkire, 102 / Nov. 8, 1909 — March 22, 2012

Published 5:59 pm Friday, March 23, 2012

Mary Alkire, 102

Nov. 8, 1909 — March 22, 2012


Mary Clara (Dunfee) Alkire died March 22, 2012, at River Ridge Manor of Niles.

Mary was born on Nov. 8, 1909, Ocean Grove, N.J. to Allula (Kelly) and Robert Dunfee. She was a resident of Niles, moving there shortly after the death of her husband of 66 years in May 1998.

When Mary was 4, the family moved to Illinois, eventually settling in Decatur, where her father worked on the railroad and her mother was a seamstress.  Mary hated school, but graduated from Decatur High School, after which she took a job at the Elgin watch factory and was working there when she met Carl Alkire, the local barber. Carl cut her hair and really thought she was something special. They dated and in 1931 they were married. Money was tight and Mary would tell a story about refusing to buy pork chops because the butcher would not sell them to her three for a dime.

Mary worked making nylon stockings and rolling bandages for the Red Cross during the war while

Carl served with the 320th Infantry, 35th Division, attached to General Patton’s antitank division.

After the war, they moved to Chicago, where both Mary and Carl worked at the University of Chicago — Mary at the university bookstore and Carl managed the university barbershop. Mary had one daughter, Ellen Sampson, who now lives in Buchanan with her husband Rodger. Mary’s siblings include two sisters, Carol and Alice, and one brother Robert, all deceased.  Mary has four grandchildren: David Napoleon of San Diego, Lisa Ringelestein of Oswego, Ill., Vincent Napoleon of Chicago Heights, Ill., and Cheryl Stefanini of Brook Park, Ohio.  She also has four great-grandchildren: Michael Napoleon of San Diego, Annie and Johnny Ringelestein of Oswego, Ill., and Sophia Napoleon of Chicago Heights Ill.

A celebration of life service will be held on Monday, March 26, at 11 a.m. at Swem Chapel in Buchannan. Pastor Patricia Ramsden of First Presbyterian Church will be officiating. Friends may call one hour prior to the service.

Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice at Home, 1234 Napier Ave., St. Joseph, MI 49085.

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