Mary J. Gordon
Mary Johanna was born March 15, 1943 in Traverse City to Donna Elizabeth (Kelenske) Heater and Harmon Howard Heater.
Mary is survived by her brother, John Heater; her sisters-in-law, Christine and Bernice Heater; numerous nieces and nephews; many great-nieces and nephews; and a generation of great-great-nieces and nephews.
Mary was a lifelong resident of Traverse City with the exception of a brief period when she lived in Highland Park, California, following her brothers, John and Norm, teaching in the East Los Angeles School District.
A lover of Michigan's seasonal weather, Mary returned to Traverse City in 1967 when she began a 34-year teaching career in Traverse City's area schools, spending the majority of her career at Oak Park Elementary, where she attended, along with all four of her brothers, until 1954.
Mary did not have biological children; her students were her "kids." Having served thousands of children and families over her long and successful career, Mary's legacy, including her love of learning, and the value she placed on education, community involvement and service, continues to live on in the many students whom she taught. Her students went on to become our current generation's leaders, teachers and dedicated members of Traverse Bay's communities. Her dedication to her students and the learning-culture she so valued earned her the "The Excellence in Education" award from Traverse City Area Public School District.
Graduating from Traverse City Central High School 1961, Mary obtained her undergraduate degree from Northwestern Michigan College and a master's degree from Michigan State University in 1965.
Mary's life after retirement focused on her other loves - cooking, crafting, community service and collies.
She was a lifetime member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, was an expert quilter and basket weaver and often gifted friends and family her cottage creations.
After spending many years caring for her mother and father, at 50 years of age Mary found the love of her life, Robert DeWayne Gordon (deceased in 2015), and they were married on July 22, 1995 at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
Mary died on Oct. 13, 2019 in the quality care of the French Manor, where she spent her remaining days making new friends and causing good trouble however she could. A prankster and a jokester, she was always ready with a witty quip, using her dry sense of humor to poke loving fun. Fall was her favorite season, so it's apt that her home-going comes during this beautiful, crisp month and the spectacular red-yellow-orange of changing leaves.
A funeral service for Mary will take place at Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 beginning at 10:30 a.m., with a visitation one hour prior to the service. Pastor Paul Busekist will officiate. A luncheon will be held immediately following the service at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Mary will be laid to rest at Oakwood Cemetery following the lunch at the church.
For those who are not able to be at Mary's funeral, it will be broadcasted live by visiting, on the day of the service at 10:30 am.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to either Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, 2502 N. Rocky Point Dr., Suite 550, Tampa, FL 33607; or the Michael J. Fox Foundation, PO Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014.
Please share a memory with Mary's family by visiting her tribute page at The Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home and Cremation Services is serving the family.
Published on October 15, 2019


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Kelly Cassady
Oct 17, 2019
Mary will be remembered for her compassion, humor as well as her professional and personal contributions to the community. She was strong willed with a heart of gold. A beautiful person inside and out.
Arve-Olav Solumsmo
Oct 16, 2019
Fall Fantasia was purchased for the family of Mary J. Gordon by Arve-Olav Solumsmo.  Send flowers
Lin Meeker
Oct 15, 2019
Mary was a 30 year member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Job Winslow Chapter. She served has our Chaplain for many years. We will all miss her.