Mary de Zeeuw

  • "Dear Maureen, God bless your dear mama and rest her weary..."
    - Barbara Carlson
  • "To the Dezeeuw Family, I am so blessed to have worked with..."
    - brenda moore
  • "Thanks for the notification Maureen. I'm so sorry for your..."
  • "Maureen, Brian, and Adrian, your mom was a beautiful person..."
    - Cindy Trytko
  • "Even though my memories of Aunt Mae are only of when she..."
    - Tessa Morgan

Anchorage resident Mary Ann "Mae" de Zeeuw, 87, died Dec. 27, 2010, at home after a 2-year battle with cancer.

A viewing will be held at 2 p.m. today, with a funeral Mass to follow at 3 p.m. at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Interment will follow in the spring.

Mae was born May 19, 1923, in Hebburn-on-Tyne, England. When she was 6 years old, she and her little brothers immigrated with their Irish parents to Canada. A memorable journey in her hardscrabble early life, they sailed in steerage class on the HMS Duchess of Bedford as settlers for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. They made their way to Kitscoty, Alberta, where Mae's father became a farmer, plowing up the raw prairie on leased land with a hand-held plow and two horses. Their life was difficult, but her family was close, and Mae had many happy memories of winter rides to barn dances in her father's old sleigh, and other family farm adventures. Mae attended the one-room Charleston School until the ninth grade, moving to Lloydminster to complete high school. She worked in Edmonton in Woodward's store for many years.

In her late 30s, Mae made her way with three girlfriends to Seattle, where she met the love of her life, Adrian "Dee" de Zeeuw. They soon married in January of 1960 and Mae became a homemaker. Dee was in the U.S. Coast Guard, and after their daughter, Maureen Lynne, was born in Washington they were transferred to Cordova. Mae gave birth to their two sons, Adrian Derek and Brian Thomas, in Cordova, and endured the 1964 earthquake and great Cordova fire while Dee was away at sea. In 1967, after Dee's retirement from the Coast Guard, the family moved permanently to Anchorage. Most summers they would drive the Alaska Highway to Alberta to spend time on the farm with Mae's parents.

Mae is remembered by her children as the "sweetest and most loving mother imaginable." She doted on her family. She worked hard making their clothes when they were young, and preparing delicious home-cooked meals and many a picnic lunch for the family's Alaska outings. Mae always had a plate of cookies or brownies and a pitcher of punch for her children's friends. She had a tender love for animals, including the family pet dogs and cats. She loved to feed and watch the wild birds and squirrels in her garden, and was even known to put cheese out for mice when she saw their little footprints in the snow.

Mae was proud of her Irish and Canadian heritage. She was proud, too, of becoming an American citizen, although she always rooted for the Canadians in hockey games. A gentle and modest woman, she had a delightfully impish sense of humor and always had an Irish twinkle in her bright blue eyes. She was a devout Catholic and an original member of Saint Patrick's Parish in Anchorage.

Mae was talented at drawing, gardening and sewing, but more than anything else was known for her letter-writing. Although afflicted with arthritis, she always had the most beautiful and perfect handwriting her friends and family had ever seen. She wrote multi-page letters every day, and at one time had a correspondence list of over 100 friends and relatives worldwide. Many of her relatives depended on her to keep them all in touch.

In her last year, she was able to realize her dream of becoming a grandmother when her precious granddaughter, Ada Maelynne, was born. Although she was widowed three years ago and became ill herself, her home remained the central gathering place for her family. Mae's children said, "We know how lucky we are to have had such a beautiful and loving woman as our mother, and the gifts of family love she provided for us will be treasured forever."

Mae was preceded in death by her husband, Adrian "Dee"; her parents; and her brothers, Joseph Bohan and Thomas Bohan.

She is survived by her daughter, Maureen; sons Adrian and Brian; and granddaughter, Ada, all of Anchorage.

Arrangements are with Legacy Funeral Home's Bragaw Chapel.

Published in Anchorage Daily News from Dec. 30 to Dec. 31, 2010