Mary "Mayme" Byers was born to immigrants Martin and Maria Ratkovich in Chicago, Illinois on November 4, 1924. She died peacefully in Yuma, Arizona on Sunday, December 1, 2013. She was raised in a Croatian neighborhood in Chicago where she attended bilingual classes at St. Jerome's Catholic school. St. Jerome's was her home away from home until she married Max Byers. Together they had 5 children, raising them mostly in Warrenville, Illinois, where this city girl embraced country life. She was a busy stay-at-home mom, gardening, canning, sewing and quilting while also volunteering at school, church, and with the Cub Scouts. She returned to a secretarial career later in life, working for Quincy (Illinois) College and then Western Illinois University. Children and grandchildren drew Mary to Arizona in 1987, where she worked at Arizona Western College. After retirement in 1996, she enjoyed weekly card club, quilting with the Desert Lily Quilters and serving her parish of St. Francis of Assisi, as well as visiting her family and friends. She took two memorable trips to Croatia to meet relatives and make pilgrimages to Medjugorje.
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Mary is preceded in death by all of her siblings-Annie Ratkovich, Dorothy Malone, and Rosemary Dudones. She is survived by daughter Jody Gregston, sons Jim (Barb) Byers, Roy (Kelly) Byers, Rick (Lorraine) Byers, Mike (Vanessa) Byers, and 14 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, as well as nieces, nephews, godchildren and friends. Known as "Mayme" to her childhood friends and as "Baba" to her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and their friends, Mary leaves behind a legacy of joyful giving-of her time, talents and treasures.
Rosary will take place at St. Francis Church on Friday, December 6 at 7 p.m. A funeral mass, also at St. Francis Church, will be on Saturday, December 7 at 9 a.m. Burial will be immediately after at Desert Lawn Cemetery, followed by a lunch reception in the hall at St. Francis at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, Mary's wishes can be honored with donations to St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Francis Church.
Desert Lawn Memorial Park
1415 South 1st Ave Yuma, AZ 85364
Published in The Yuma Sun from Dec. 5 to Dec. 6, 2013