Mary Ellen Segelhorst (1927 - 2017)

9 entries
  • "May you rest in the gentle peace that you have earned."
    - Mike Burns
  • "Rest in peace."
    - Pat " Tudy" Jackson
  • "Mary and Knobby were our neighbors on Captain Cook Drive in..."
    - John Thorsness
  • "Mary may you rest in peace with Knobby, Schotzie, and..."
    - Julie Bleier
  • "My condolences to family and friends. Take time to grieve..."
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Long time Alaskan Mary Ellen Segelhorst passed peacefully at home on Oct. 28, 2017.
Mary was born on Dec. 18, 1927, to Bessie and Ralph Wilhelm in Rittman, Ohio. Her mother's illness at Mary's birth resulted in Mary being raised primarily by her grandmother, Flora Conrad - "Granny." She attended school in Rittman, graduating with honors from Rittman High in June 1945.
Always industrious, she started working, at 16, for Rich Motors where she worked for nine years. It was at the dealership that she met her first love, Donald "Cub" Isch. They were married in May 1951. Sadly, Cub and his best friend died in a lake boating accident in April 1952, making Mary a young widow at 24. Her life took another significant turn when her brother-in-law CWO Alfred Isch and his wife Bernie received orders for a military transfer to Ft. Richardson, Alaska, and they convinced Mary it was the right thing for her to accompany them. She became a military dependent, at age 24, and a new journey began.
Mary had never been more than 250 miles from home. The SS Richardson military transport delivered them to Seward in September under beautiful rich fall colors that Mary thought would be Alaska. She said many times "was I ever wrong." Mary never did figure out the military ranking system which caused many exciting visits in the Isch household, an igloo on Lake Otis Parkway near Northern Lights Blvd. Shortly after arriving in Anchorage, Mary continued her automobile dealership career working at Inlet Motors, the Studebaker dealership on 5th Avenue.
In 1953, Alf and Bernie retired and returned to Ohio, taking Mary with them. She had a vacation and bought a new Studebaker. Then, with the sister of a friend who wanted to return to Alaska, went to AAA Auto Club to plan the trip back to Alaska. They said "she needed everything from shovels to a man" ... of which they had neither. With a packed car, the ladies had a grand send-off by friends and they made the trip from Ohio, through Canada where they encountered the border patrol questioning the wisdom of women driving alone with a car full of worldly possessions. They made the trip without any problems at all!
Mary continued her automotive industry career with Alaska Sales and Service, and affectionately known as Mother Mary, she kept the troops in line for 30 years, before retiring in 1991.
In 1957, Mary married N.E. "Knobby" Segelhorst, who owned Ken C. Johnson Insurance, in the original First Methodist Church on G Street. What an adventure these two had over their 47 year marriage. They survived the historical 1964 earthquake. They traveled all over Alaska and the world. Mary experienced Alaska by car, boat and airplane. Knobby would say "she has the campfire made before I can park the car, moor the boat or tie down the airplane." Travels took the couple not only all over Alaska, but to many places in the Lower 48 as well as to Europe, Mexico, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. Mary's last grand adventure took her on an African safari with friends. Knobby passed in January 2004.
Over Mary and Knobby's married life, as their personal and professional lives took many turns, some easy, some not, they began slowly and quietly to build their philanthropic legacy. Many organizations including The Alaska Zoo, Providence Cancer Center, and the Anchorage Museum, Alaska Pacific University, AWAIC and Covenant House and others were recipients of Segelhorst gifts through the years to support their community. One of Mary's greatest personal gifts was her mentoring many young women through her volunteering and organization involvement. She was a founding and Life Member of Soroptimist International of Cook Inlet, a member of the Alaska Pacific University President's Forum and she also belonged to Pioneers of Alaska, Aux. #4. Mary volunteered for many years at the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Log Cabin and the Alaska Native Hospital Gift Shop. Mary was recognized as a YWCA Woman of Philanthropy, received the first Alaska Journal of Commerce Unsung Heroine Award, honored by the Association of Fundraising Executives, as a Woman of Philanthropy and as a Broadway Star by Covenant House Alaska and twice as a Member of Distinction by Soroptimist.
As we reflect on Mary and her life, there are many memories of an adventurous, strong willed woman who influenced many through her actions, unconditional love without judgment, gentle but direct guidance with a challenge to many young women to do more, give of ourselves and make a difference. All of this was done with a smile and a bit of a wicked sense of humor over many cups of tea, lemon bars, jelly beans and red wine! In Mary's words: "Everything is based on loving yourself and accepting yourself; where you are today and not judging yourself or others. You must always strive for a higher, greater, better you." We who were mentored by Mary and loved unconditionally by her are now challenged to live up to these words.
Mary is survived by cousins, Carolyn Lutz and Patricia Jackson of Ohio; and Knobby's children, Mike Segelhorst and Sue Benson. She is also survived by Teresa Nelson, her friend and companion; the Wark and Sauerbrey family; and godson, Michael Marchant. There are many friends who will miss her.
Mary was blessed by gentle and loving care in her home by Jacoba Toussain for over six years and most recently by aides Razel, Sarah, Donna and Cathy.
There will be no public service at this time. A gathering of friends will be in the spring at the Alaska Zoo.
In Mary's honor please make a donation to The Alaska Zoo to support her "kids" Knobby and Mary LuEllen, the Bactrian camels; or Covenant House to support Mary's Place, a home for mothers and their children.
Published in Anchorage Daily News on Nov. 12, 2017