Mary Rodewald1915 - 2016
Mary Elizabeth Rodewald age 101 of Rogers City
passed away October 29, 2016 at Rogers City Tendercare.
Mary was born on April 22, 1915. She was born in the
family home on the farm at Sellers, South Carolina.
Dr. Carpenter from Latta, Seven miles away, officiated at the birth, Mary
was the first child of Betty Moses Berry and Edmund Burke Berry Jr.
The birth was a long and difficult one, and Mary was born a “blue baby”.
Nevertheless, Mom and baby got through the ordeal. As an infant, Mary
also survived “double pneumonia”.
Thirteen months after her birth, Mary’s brother, Edmund Burke Berry III
was born at home, on May 21, 1916. The children were so close in age
that Betty said she had all the work of twins, but none of the glory. Both
children, as toddlers, accompanied their mother to London, Kentucky to
attend the death of Betty’s father, Charles Moses. This is the only time
the children were out of the state of South Carolina until they graduated
from high school, But both children were destined to travel widely as
Mary and Edmund III were schooled at home until
second grade, at their mother’s insistence; both
children entered the second grade together.
This made it tough on Edmund, as he was a year
younger, The two were enrolled in public school in
Latta. Their home town of Sellers had a school, but
Grandfather Berry didn’t think it was as good as
the Latta school. The kids initially traveled to
school by buggy, and at a later time, by school bus;
or by neighbor’s car.
The Latta school must have done some good, as it prepared Mary to win,
through competitive examination, the Dillion County College Scholarship.
This entitled Mary to free tuition, room and board at the Winthrop
College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Winthrop was a teachers college
for women, and Mary graduated “cum laude” four years later (1936) with
a business and teaching degree.
During Mary’s time at Winthrop, all the young women had to wear navy
blue and white uniforms, and march downtown together to church on
Sundays. The local citizen would drive by to observe the march with
great interest and amusement.
After graduation, Mary’s first job was as a stenographer for the Vice
President of Liberty Life Insurance Co, in Greenville, South Carolina.
The job lasted for six years. During this time, Mary shared a “working
girls” apartment with three other young women, Mary resigned Liberty
Life to begin work for Southern Railway in Memphis, Tennessee; selling
passenger tickets. Southern carried US troops to training and deployment
locations during World War II. At Southern Railway, Mary met her future
husband, OK Rodewald. Rody was a passenger agent at Southern, and
worked in the same office. Rodewald’s job handling troop trains was
regarded as key to the war effort, and thus exempted him from the
Mary and Rody were married in Memphis on April 15, 1943, by an Army
Chaplin. Out of town family couldn’t attend, due to wartime restrictions
on civilian travel. Their first home was an apartment in Memphis.
Because married women weren’t allowed to work with their spouse, Mary
got another job with Grand Trunk Canadian National Railroad as a
stenographer, The young couple was soon transferred by Southern to
Cleveland, Ohio. Their first child, Susan Elizabeth, was born in
Cleveland in 1948, Southern again transferred Rody to Detroit, where
their second child, Mary Ann, was born in 1950. After another brief stint
in Cleveland, the couple settled in the Detroit area for the remainder of
their working careers, Their third child, William Kenneth, was born in
Detroit in 1958, Additional members of the family included Richard
Rodewald, Rody’s son from a first marriage who visited from time to
time, and Aunt Lina (Moses) Cherrington, the sister of Betty Moses Berry,
who came to live with the Rodewald family in her later years, after her
Mary quit work to be a mom before her oldest child Susan was born. Rody
continued to work for Southern until the decline of passenger rail traffic
made airline and travel agent work more attractive. After working for
Allen Travel Service for several years, Rodewald bought his own small
travel agency, Globe Travel, located in East Detroit, Michigan.
Meanwhile, when the youngest child, William Kenneth went to school,
Mary took refresher classes in Education at Wayne State University in
Detroit. Mary worked as a substitute teacher in Detroit, which eventually
led to a full-time 16 year career as a first grade teacher in East Detroit.
Rody’s work provided the opportunity for travel, because he frequently
escorted groups on tours and trips around the world. Mary played hooky
from school when she could, to tag along. Places they visited together
included: Mexico, South America, Bermuda, Hawaii (several times),
Alaska, Spain, Italy, France and numerous other exotic locations in the
continental United States and Canada. They also frequently visited
with Mary’s brother Edmund III and his wife Mitzi, who traveled
extensively due to Edmund’s military career.
Rody retired form Globe Travel in 1978. Mary retired from teaching three
years later, In 1982, Mary and Rody bought a retirement home in
Brevard, North Carolina; in the foothills of the Smokies, They both
enjoyed the mountains and waterfalls of the area, along with the cultural
offerings of Brevard and Ashville. They frequently celebrated Christmas
at Myrtle Beach, SC, and went on fishing and sightseeing trips to North
Carolina’s Outer Banks, Brevard became a travel destination drawing
their scattered children for a dose of Mom’s southern hospitality and
When Rody died in 1993, Mary decided to move closer to her daughter,
Mary Ann, who lives in Rogers City, Michigan with her husband,
Karl W. Heidemann. Mary bought a home on Lake Huron, and moved
to Rogers City in 1994. She enjoyed this home, and her nearby children,
grandchildren and great grandchildren for many years, until the harsh
winters recommended a more sheltered location. Mary was currently
living in an apartment at Tendercare Health Facility in Rogers City,
Mary is survived by: step-son, Richard A. Rodewald and his wife, Jill of
Northridge, California; 2 daughters, Susan Elizabeth Berry and her
husband Randy Thomas of Sparks, Nevada and, Mary Ann Heidemann
and her husband Karl W. Heidemann of Rogers City, Michigan; son
William Kenneth Rodewald and his wife Barbara Rodewald of New Berlin,
Wisconsin; 5 grandchildren, Tanaya Rodewald of California, Tarn
Rodewald of Playa Vista, California, Heather Heidemann Nordenbrock of
Ann Arbor, Michigan, Karl K. Heidemann and his wife Danielle of
Rogers City, Michigan; 6 great grandchildren, Karl A. Heidemann,
Salena Heidemann, and Bradley Heidemann of Rogers City, Michigan,
Lily Nordenbrock, Colby Nordenbrock and Jackson Nordenbrock of
Ann Arbor, Michigan, Wayatt L. Rodewald and Emmett G. Rodewald of
Playa Vista California.
Mary was preceded death by her husband, OK “Rody” Rodewald;
brother, Edmund Burke Berry III and a granddaughter, Lela Rodewald.
Friends may visit at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rogers City
on Saturday, November 19, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. through time of her
memorial service at 11:00 a.m. with Reverends Greg and Karen
Inurnment will take place at Memorial Park Cemetery in Rogers City.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Westminster Presbyterian
Church of Rogers City, Michigan in memory of Mary,