Obituaries » MaryAnn L. Svetich (Mehalovich)
April 26, 1924 - April 15, 2017
Known to her family simply as “Baby” while growing up, the youngest of the Mehalovich siblings decided it was time she had a proper name once she began school. Thinking that simply going by “Mary” was too common, she debated several names until landing on one. And so it was that John and Prudence, parents to older sister Barbara and older brother Anton, could now introduce their youngest child; Mary Ann.
Born in Portland, Oregon on April 26, 1924, Mary Ann was never one to be idle. As a child, she taught herself to knit and could often be seen strolling around the neighborhood while knitting. When not working with her hands, she loved to serenade her family by singing. Once she entered Commerce High School (now Cleveland High School), her focus shifted to her academics. She took an interest in bookkeeping and after graduation, used those skills to land a job at Bedell’s, a women’s clothing store in downtown Portland.
During her early 20’s, Mary Ann was very independent and when not working, she loved going to the local dance halls with her friends. She was in no hurry to settle down until she was set up on a blind date by a coworker of hers. The coworker’s husband worked with a man named Steve who happened to not only be Catholic, but was also Croatian – a perfect match to Mary Ann’s religious and ethnic background. Their relationship grew and in 1952, they were married.
Steve and Mary Ann’s first home as husband and wife was on SE 28th and Hawthorne. In 1953, their first son, Matthew, was born. A year later, Mary Ann’s father passed away. Mary Ann, sensing the need to help her mother, moved back into her family home on SE 33rd and Division along with Steve and Matthew. Soon they would add to the family, with Mary Ann giving birth to daughter Marilyn in 1956, and sons George in 1957 and Donald in 1961. With four kids and her own mother to care for, Mary Ann made caring for the family and their home her main responsibility.
As her children got older and she was able to find more free time for herself, her natural need to stay busy resurfaced. She spent many hours doing needlepoint, knitting, sewing, crocheting, making flower arrangements, and working on other arts and crafts projects. In addition, she loved gardening and worked hard, rain or shine, to keep her yard looking pristine.
Mary Ann was thrilled to become a grandmother and cherished the role. When she started providing childcare to Marilyn’s oldest child, David, when he was an infant, Mary Ann decided she needed a crib for him to sleep in. Little did she know that the crib would stay in her room for close to 20 years as Marilyn’s daughters Lisa and Sara both slept in it, too, as well as Don’s children, Carly and Lukas. David, Lisa and Sara spent countless afternoons at her house after school, often playing old board games in the basement and being treated by their “Gram” to their favorite after school snacks – peanut butter sandwiches, Top Ramen, and sliced Neapolitan ice cream. When Carly and Lukas would visit from Seattle, Gram would set aside her frugal tendencies and turn the heat up to make sure they were comfortable. They could expect that Gram would also be up early, whipping up a big batch of waffles for them.
Rarely did Mary Ann sit down to watch television, but since their inception in 1970, she would make an exception to watch her hometown Trail Blazers, although she muted the TV so she could listen to the announcers call the game on the AM radio she kept in her kitchen. Always one to dress up for whatever the occasion called for, she would often wear the one Blazer shirt she had while the game was on even though it was way too large for her.
Although she stayed busy caring for her family and her home, Mary Ann also made time for her social life. She often opened her home for Croatian Fraternal Union meetings, and loved hosting Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter dinners, as well as numerous birthday parties and other celebrations. She and Steve remained active in UFCW (Meat Cutters) Local 555 Retiree Club, and she worked extensively at St. Ignatius to assist whenever and however she was needed. Living in her home for nearly 70 years, she truly believed in the concept of community. She made friends with countless neighbors and their families over the years, and maintained many of those relationships even after they moved. She loved keeping up on all the neighborhood happenings and was proud to share her knowledge with anyone who wanted to know.
Mary Ann’s activity level and zest for life remained constant throughout her 92 years. To those who knew her it was just typical Mary Ann being who she was: proud, gracious, independent, caring and loving. She touched the lives of everyone she came in contact with. She will be deeply missed by all.
A funeral Mass in her honor will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, May 4, 2017, at St. Ignatius Catholic Church, Portland, Oregon, with a reception to follow in the parish hall.
Remembrances can be made to St. Ignatius Catholic Church or School.