Mary Stilson Baltzer
September 16, 1928 – March 11, 2018
Mary Katherine Stilson Baltzer September 16, 1928 – March 11, 2018
Mary Katherine Stilson was born on the 16th of September, 1928 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to George E. and Thora Julia [Rindahl] Stilson. She grew up in Minneapolis attending an all girls school and graduating top of her class.
A long time allergy and asthma sufferer, Mary chose to move to Colorado to attend college, selecting Colorado College in Colorado Springs. It was there one day while practicing piano she met a young man named Michael and sparks flew!
She married Michael vanLaer Baltzer of Rochester, New York on August 3, 1952 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Being of little means at the time, they bought a small property in Cascade Colorado and began constructing what would be their new family home.
First came Katherine Elaine Van Note [Christopher] in 1953, then Timothy Dean Baltzer in 1956, Charles van Laer Baltzer [Lydia Aragon] in 1957 and Edward Michael Baltzer [Elizabeth] in 1958 and later Thomas Steven Baltzer [Leslie Susan “Sue” Pledger] in 1963.
During this time, Mary was primarily a homemaker for the family. But she also found ways to express her love for music and her spirituality by playing organ at the local community church in Green Mountain Falls. The Church in the Wildwood was the spiritual and community home for the family in these years.
Mary knew it was her calling to raise good citizens. Mom insisted we try our hardest and do what was right. She also was the spark that fired our love of music. All 5 of us found our musical passion through her. There was always a piano in the house. We were encouraged to learn and to play it. Later the question was not “do you want to play in band?” but “what instrument would you like to play in band?” Two of us have the gift of singing. Music has remained in our lives either as a career or as an avocation. We have passed it on to our children and grandchildren. Mary can be proud of the legacy she left.
In 1974 Mary and Michael divorced and Mary left the home in Cascade for new adventures, living with her youngest, Tom in several locations in Colorado Springs and the Ute Pass Valley until they settled in Crystola, Colorado in 1976 where Mary lived until 1984.
From 1984-2007, Mary owned a beautiful home on Mountain Road in Chipita Park Colorado. During these years she travelled fairly extensively. She particularly enjoyed visiting her children who had spread from Iowa to Hawaii. She also loved her time spent in Mexico.
It was also during these years that Mary expressed her love of music and piano with a lovely group of Ute Pass residents. One of the the group’s members, Bonny McCallister, passes along this remembrance: “In 1986 with the spearheading of Elaine Weseman, a piano group was formed in Chipita Park. The members were Mary, Elaine, Rhoda Dentan and Bonny McAllister. The four of us were members of Church in the Wildwood. Evelyn Jacobs joined a few years later after her retirement as kindergarten teacher at Ute Pass Elementary.
Over the years we met every month with few exceptions, each of us taking turns hostessing. Individually we practiced at home a piano piece to "perform" when we met. It was a nice challenge to play on a piano other than our own, since the action was different for each piano. At Christmas we met for an elegant pot luck luncheon and each of us couldn't wait for our year to hostess this festive event. Evelyn relocated to LaVeta, Colorado, but we still continued meeting, mostly in Chipita Park, but also we loaded up a car and spent a happy day in LaVeta playing away on Evelyn's piano. Rhoda later moved to senior living in the Denver area to be closer to her daughter; yet even then we drove twice to see her and spend part of a day together.
When Elaine moved to Grand Junction and Mary to an assisted living facility in Colorado Springs, that brought to an end this lovely tradition. We met for the last time in the fall of 2007, thus spanning 21 years of music and friendship.
I resend to Mary these words she wrote to me in 1999: ‘Thank you for piano group and for your friendship and support all the many years we've known each other. These things are real blessings.’ Godspeed to you, Mary with my love, Bonny McAllister”
In addition to her 5 children, Mary is survived by seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Mary was known for her rich knowledge and clever wit, both of which will be missed by those who knew her.