Mary Lois Knerr
May 26, 1934 – July 14, 2021
Mary Lois Castleman Knerr, 87, of Palmetto, FL passed away on July 14, 2021, in Austin, TX. Mary was born May 26, 1934, in Nashville, TN. She was the daughter of John and Mae Castleman of Palmetto, FL. In high school, Mary joined the Civil Air Patrol and there she found the love of her life, Harold Knerr. Harold was leaving to go into the Navy, and she wanted to go with him. So they married when she was 17 years old and moved to the Navy base in Key West Florida, where their first child, Patricia, was born.
Harold was a very talented artist, so after he got out of the Navy, Harold and Mary moved to the Sarasota area where his family lived so that he could attend Ringling School of Art. He was trained as a graphic artist, and got his first job in Charlotte, NC. Mary was pregnant with her second child, Harold Jr, when they moved. Harold Jr, whom they called “Hal”, was born in Charlotte, but shortly afterward they moved to Hickory, NC. Harold then received an offer of an advantageous job in Dayton, Ohio. They moved next to Vandalia, Ohio, near Dayton. Their third child, Donald, was born during their time there. After her third child was born, Mary liked to joke that she now had a “PhD”. Harold and Mary lived in Ohio for four years, but finally decided to return to be near their families in Florida. Harold got a job in Sarasota working at Scheb Printing.
During all these moves, Mary did not work. However, she had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and read and studied child psychology during this time. She wanted to be the best mother that she possibly could. As her youngest child reached school age, she began to think of returning to school to get a elementary education degree and use that child psychology that she had learned. Despite the dual responsibilities of caring for a family and being a student, she was able to achieve this. She graduated “Summa Cum Laude” (a perfect 4.0 average) from Manatee Junior College in 1969 and received her Bachelor of Arts degree “With Honors” from the University of South Florida in 1970. She then began her career as a teacher. She taught one semester at a middle school right after her graduation, but she really wanted to teach younger students. So the next year, she got a job at Palm View Elementary, teaching second grade, where she remained throughout her career of 23 years. She loved working with her young students. She took some time off to care for her aging parents, and eventually retired for good in 1993. Mary enjoyed her first few years of retirement. Harold also retired at this time, and they volunteered at the library, took lengthy walks for exercise, and had adventures such as parasailing, riding in a hot-air balloon, and flying in Harold’s plane. Harold was the pilot and Mary was the navigator on the plane trips. However, in 1999, Mary received some bad news. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
However, advances had been made in Parkinson’s medication at that time, and the doctors told her that she could possibly live for 20 more years. So, although she was less energetic than before, she continued with her hobbies and adventures. She read, did jigsaw puzzles, and took watercolor lessons from Harold. She became quite proficient as a watercolorist in her own right and has many pictures hanging in her children’s homes alongside Harold’s.
Also, during this time, she and Harold went to Ireland for their 50th wedding anniversary, California for their 55th wedding anniversary, and took a riverboat trip for their 60th. Sadly, in 2007, Harold was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He had thought that he would end up taking care of Mary in her final days. But his case was worse than hers -- he had Parkinson’s with Lewy-Body dementia and his health deteriorated rapidly. Mary ended up taking care of him even though she had Parkinson’s herself. She took care of him for six years until it was just too much for her.
In 2013, they moved to Texas to be near their daughter. Harold had to go into Memory Care, and Mary and her daughter and son-in-law went to see him every day. Mary was a faithful and devoted wife until Harold’s death in 2015. She then lived with her daughter for four years until she herself needed to go into Assisted Living and then Memory Care. Her daughter visited every day until the COVID pandemic in 2020, when lockdowns and restricted visitation became the norm. She died peacefully at Arden Courts of Austin on July 14, 2021. She had had Parkinson’s disease for 22 years at the time of her death. Mary was a very positive person and had a passion for life and a genuine love for people, especially children. Even at the end when she could hardly do anything, she tried so hard to make her caregivers happy by participating in the scheduled activities. Everyone who came in contact with her remarked what a joy it was to know her. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Pat & Ken Krivoshein, Hal & Diane Knerr, and Don Knerr & Sue Dunbar; her grandchildren Caleb and Joshua; her sister, Barbara of Palmetto, FL; her two sister-in-laws Darla Kizer and Renie Castleman; and numerous loving and caring nieces, nephews and friends. Her memorial service will be held in Brown and Sons Funeral Home in Bradenton, Florida, on Sat, Aug 28th, at 2 pm. Her ashes will be interred at Sarasota National Cemetery alongside her beloved Harold’s.
Brown & Son Funeral Home
Mary Lois Knerr
July 21, 2021
My favorite aunt to play Scrabble with, and so enjoyed the games we played at her house in Palmetto. Mom, Aunt Lois and Uncle Harold and I played "no holds barred" Scrabble, so if you won, you won! Aunt Lois was always so calm, cool and collected. She could swim like a fish. Really FAST! She was a beautiful lady, inside and out and will be well and truly missed. But will always be a "living memory" to me.