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Mary E. Balfour

November 20, 1948 – January 7, 2023

Wife of Pastor James R. Balfour II, Mary Eileen Schoen Balfour, died on Saturday, January 7, 2023, at the age of 74, after a courageous battle with cancer. She was born in West Branch, Michigan and lived in many communities across the state. She graduated from Brighton High School, earned a bachelor’s degree from Albion College, her teaching/library credentials from Central Michigan University, and a master’s degree from Michigan State University. Her teaching career included service in Whittemore-Prescott, Iron River, Hale, and Alanson-Littlefield public schools.

Beloved wife of Reverend James R. Balfour II for 53 years, Mary is also survived by her grandchildren of the heart, Daniel and Luke Etter, sister-in-law Nancy (James) Schacht, nephews Stephen (Siri Garnaas) and Jonathan (Kelly MacAvaney) and nieces Kelley (John) Daugherty and Elizabeth (Alex Zbarazkyi) Schacht, great nieces Eleanor and Madelyn Schacht, great nephew Soren Schacht, and great niece Louise Daugherty, as well as many cousins and extended family members.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Eileen (nee Miller) Schoen and John Thomas Schoen.

Mary was an avid reader and an amazing teacher, not just in the classroom but everywhere she touched people’s lives. She was also an advocate for people who felt left behind or marginalized, especially her students in need of a mentor. Mary was a committed educator–the teaching role she loved most was as a school librarian who used the library as an educational resource for all members of the school community and to create a safe place for all who needed one. Active in supporting extra-curricular activities, she was the faculty advisor for the junior class, yearbook, Honor Society, and Key Club, as well as supporting other school organizations. She was instrumental in starting and supporting community organizations such as the Hope Chest in St. Ignace, which has helped thousands of people over the years. She provided leadership for United Methodist women’s groups in local and regional church organizations, as well as many camping and backpacking experiences for youth.

Mary loved the many pets that shared her life. She and her husband, Jim, made their retirement home in Ingallston Township near Stephenson, Michigan at her family’s centennial farm.

Mary’s family would like to thank the doctors and staff of the Aurora Bay Area Cancer Center and the incredibly supportive friends who walked with her through her treatment journey.

The celebration of Mary’s life will take place at the First United Methodist Church, 601 10th Avenue, Menominee, Michigan on Saturday, February 4, 2023. There will be an hour of gathering with friends and family at 1:00 p.m., followed by the celebration at 2:00 p.m. A reception will be held at the church immediately following the service. Anderson Diehm Funeral Home is assisting the family.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Mary may be made to the Aurora Bay Area Foundation, Cancer Center Fund, 3003 University Drive, Marinette, WI 54143; St. Ignace Area Hope, P.O. Box 170, St. Ignace, MI 49781; or the charity of your choice.

Last Updated on January 11, 2023

The Michigan Conference