Mary Elizabeth (Hawkins) Struewing
- Published: March 9, 2022
Mary Elizabeth (Hawkins) Struewing, 95, of Yellow Springs, Ohio, died peacefully, with her children at her side, on Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Mary was born on May 8, 1926, to Charles Kenneth and Martha M. Johnson Hawkins, on the Hawkins Homestead at the corner of Hawkins Road and Fairground Road in Xenia Township, Greene County. A year later, her parents bought a farm not far away on Trebein Road in Beavercreek. Mary’s father was a farmer and her mother was a skilled homemaker, cook and gardener. The oldest of four, Mary helped her father every day, milking cows and cross-cutting wood, always talking as they worked.
When Mary started first grade, she rode the bus each day to the brand-new Main School in Beavercreek. She played intramural basketball in seventh and eighth grade and took classes at the Dayton Art Institute.
The summer of her junior year, Mary met Bill Struewing at a wartime dance at Alford Auditorium in Cedarville. She recalled first noticing Bill at a basketball game, throwing popcorn at him for fun. Mary graduated from Beavercreek High School in 1944. She began working as a fashion buyer at Elder’s in downtown Dayton, picking stock and helping customers put together outfits. Bill would ride the escalator up and down the store, waiting for her to get off work so he could take her home. He proposed on Valentine’s Day and they married on May 16, 1945, at St. Paul Catholic Church in Yellow Springs. Nineteen-year-old Mary wore a light wool suit and “paper shoes,” due to the war rationing of materials.
After they married, Bill enlisted in the Army and he and Mary moved to Fort Knox, Ky. When Bill was transferred to Fort Kilmer in New Jersey, Mary soon followed with their six-week-old baby, Kathy. They moved back to Ohio after the war and lived in an apartment in Xenia, where they had their second daughter, Frances. Bill and Mary bought a lot on the edge of Yellow Springs in 1947, where they built a garage to live in as they built their first house. They happily welcomed four more children, Ken, John, Cindy and Mike, whom they raised in the village.
Mary was Bill’s partner as he built custom homes throughout Yellow Springs. She did whatever was necessary for his construction business, picking up supplies and keeping the books and payroll, often toting her two youngest children along to jobsites. When Bill needed her, Mary was there. They were happily married for 67 years, until his death in 2012.
Mary made beautiful things. She baked fabulous cakes, earning countless blue ribbons at county fairs. She used prize money to buy her first KitchenAid mixer. Mary sewed the most fashionable clothes for herself and for her young children. They’d have a new Easter outfit every year, and she always loved to wear a new dress. Mary grew the most beautiful flowers. She could be found in her cascading gardens, devotedly tending to her beloved flowers with the nurturing, precise hand they required. With a keen eye and flick of her wrist, she could place a stem just right, taking home many a “Best of Show” title in flower arranging from garden club competitions.
Mary had a great zest for life. She loved listening to music and dancing. She loved playing bridge and golfing with friends. (She was competitive!) She loved traveling, and spending winters in Florida with Bill — watching the seabirds swoop, collecting seashells in hues of pink. She loved cheering on her favorite sports teams, faithfully following the Cincinnati Reds on the radio and TV.
She loved sharing her talents in her community, belonging to the Lioness Club, the Yellow Springs Library Association, and the Friendly Gardeners Club for more than 50 years.
Mary was beautiful. She always had the sharpest outfit in the room, from her jewelry to her shoes. She was sharp in wit, too, and people just loved to talk to her. Mary was fun, and she loved being in the middle of the fun. She was always ready for a party, as long as she had her family there to share in her laughter.
Mary loved her six children immensely, and she loved the great big family they gave her. She loved being “Grandma” to 25 grandchildren and 51 great-grandchildren, quick to recite that ever-changing number. She would proudly say: “And I love every one of them.”
Mary’s family will remember her as a wonderful grandmother, mother, and wife; a lover of flowers, and life.
Mary is survived by five children, Kathy (Tom) Holcombe, Fran (Mike) DeWine, Ken (Betheen) Struewing, John (Kathy) Struewing, and Cynthia (Chris) Mucher; and a daughter-in-law, Sallie Struewing. She is also survived by her sister, JoAnne (Russell) Crouse; two sisters-in-law, Dewanda Hawkins and Joan Rose; and a brother-in-law, Paul Struewing.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, William Joseph Struewing; a son, Michael Struewing; a granddaughter, Becky DeWine; a great-granddaughter, Kathryn Becky DeWine; a sister, Barbara (Ralph) Mallow; a brother, Charles Edward Hawkins; and a sister-in-law, Barbara Hawkins.
Visitation will be held Friday, March 11, 5–7 p.m., at Neeld Funeral Home in Xenia. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday, March 12, 10 a.m., at St. Paul Catholic Church in Yellow Springs. Burial will follow in St. Paul Catholic Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Becky DeWine School, Hands Together, P.O. Box 80985, Springfield, MA 01138; Friends Care Community, 150 E. Herman St., Yellow Springs, OH 45387; or Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, 324 Wilmington Ave., Dayton, OH 45420.
Mary’s children thank Friends Care and Ohio’s Hospice for the valuable support they gave Mary and her family.
Condolences may be made to the family at http://www.NeeldFuneralHome.com.