Heaven welcomed our mother, Mary Lou Kelbel, on Sunday, November 13, 2022, after living a very full 85 years. Mary Lou was born in Petoskey, Michigan to Joseph and Julia Malec on July 29, 1937. She graduated from St. Francis Xavier High School in 1955 and received a BA in Education from Aquinas college.
She married her high school sweetheart, Edward Paul Kelbel, Sr. Together they made their home in Harbor Springs, Michigan. Mary Lou was a devoted wife to Ed, and loving mother to their six children.
Mary Lou started her career as a 4th grade teacher at St. Francis Xavier School. When Ed and Mary Lou moved their growing family to Harbor Springs, Michigan, Mary Lou began a well-loved day care in our home. She cared for countless children for over 20 years, and treated them like her own. Lifelong friendships began at Mary Lou’s.
Perhaps many will best remember Mary Lou as not only our mom, but a “mom to all”. Whether they were her day care kids, neighborhood children, or our friends, mom loved and welcomed everyone. Memories of mom will surely include warm chocolate chip cookies ready after school, sledding at day care, camping with our family, and a packed cooler at the beach. Anyone who knew mom can easily picture her holding a baby, as babies were one of her greatest joys in life, even until her final day.
While mom’s life was deeply fulfilled by being a caregiver, other caregivers defined her last years. Words can never express the gratitude our family has for the compassionate care mom received from both in-home nurses and the McLaren Hiland Cottage hospice staff. These people became like family to mom. Each one made an immeasurable difference in the quality of her life.
Survivors include her children Julie Leik of Greensboro, NC, Mark (Audrey) Kelbel of Colorado Springs, Co, Pete (Linda) Kelbel of Petoskey, Michigan, Sue (Todd) Ortlieb of Petoskey, Michigan, Mollie (Mark) Carter of Harbor Springs, Michigan, and daughter-in-law, Rosemary Kelbel of Colorado Springs, Co. Mary Lou had 15 grandchildren: Dr. Ted (Katie) Kelbel, Tricia (Dane) Brockett, Cassie (Dusty) Mabe, Emily (Scott) Cornella, Chandler (Chris) Jasperse, Remy, Karris and John Kelbel, Mackenzie, Peter and Grace Kelbel, Cal (Kenzie) Ortlieb and Emma Ortlieb, and Jack and Caroline Carter. In addition, she had 11 great- grandchildren: Ellie, Claire and Amelia Kelbel, Sloan, Ambrose and Bode Brockett, Archer and Anderson Mabe, Emmett and Louise Cornella, and Rhett Jasperse. Mary Lou is also survived by her sister, Patricia (Jim) Kelbel, as well as many nieces and nephews who loved their Aunt Mary Lou.
Mary Lou was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Julia Malec, her husband, Edward Paul Kelbel, Sr., her son Edward Paul Kelbel, Jr., brothers Louis Malec, Raymond Malec, John Malec, Edward Malec, and her sisters, Helen Dyksterhouse, Lucille Newton and Catherine Donnelly.
Please help us celebrate Mary Lou’s life. There will be a visitation at the Holy Childhood Parish Hall (Saint Clare of Assisi room) in Harbor Springs from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec.8. The funeral service will take place at Holy Childhood Church at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec.9 with a luncheon to follow.
To honor Mary Lou’s wishes, please consider donations to the Hiland Cottage Employee Fund, 1 Hiland Drive, Petoskey, Michigan 49770 or to the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Petoskey, https://www.supportersofpcc.org/.
Arrangements are in the care of Stone Funeral Home.