Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes

1730 East Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI


Mary Helen Donovan

August 22, 1929March 23, 2020

Remembering Mary Donovan

Our dear mother, sister, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother went to join her husband, Larry, in Heaven on March 23, 2020. She was 90 years old.

Born on August 22, 1929, Mary was the second of seven children born to Louis and Loretta Shier. Though born in Lansing, when the Great Depression occurred she, her mother and her siblings were sent to live on the farm of her grandfather, Felix Cavender, located in Stockbridge. There, she developed fond childhood memories of learning farm chores such as feeding chickens and playing games in the barn. After moving back to Lansing, she attended Resurrection High School where she met the love of her life, Larry Donovan. Soon after graduation, Mary and Larry married, she at the age of 19, on September 18, 1948. They then began their family of four children, Mary giving birth to all four within the span of less than five years.

Mary spent most of her working career employed by the State of Michigan Department of Natural Resources, as an account clerk managing financial transactions, including oil and gas leases and sales. There she met and made many lifelong friends and was honored upon her retirement in 1991, for her years of dedicated service.

When their children were grown and gone, Larry and Mary embarked upon an empty-nester’s catalogue of activities including extended bike trips, travel, mall-walking with friends, and long drives in the country. Mary took great pride in her mostly Irish heritage and her left-handedness. She liked to claim that she was ambidextrous until her teacher at the one-room Derby school in Stockbridge told her to make up her mind…she chose left…and loved to remind others of all the great people who were left-handed. She also took great pride in her youthful appearance, always being meticulously dressed, coiffed, and color coordinated.

She loved to laugh and was always quick with a joke or smart comment.

She dearly loved the “little ones;” not only her own three grandsons and nine great grandchildren, but also any other little children she would happen upon. She had a gift for charming them all. She lost Larry, her husband, best friend and love of her life, to Alzheimer’s disease in 2004, but did not let that stop her from capturing a rich life with friends, both old and new, including her sister-in-law Cathy, Char and Terry, cousins Phil and Sandy, and countless other mall-walking friends, and neighbors. She also had a special affection for her longtime hairdresser and friend Shelly. Mary is survived by her four children, Judy (Lauren), Tim (Connie), Katie, Joe (Jayne), along with her five grandsons Evan (Rachel), Andy(Tia), Brian(Liz), Eric((Alicia)and Lee(Christina), and nine greatgrandchildren: Annalise, Calliope, Avery, Weston, Sophia, Aubrey, Logan, Aaron, and Teddy, She is also survived by her sister Alice Prior, brothers Larry Shier and James (Ruby) Shier. Also surviving are many nieces and nephews – with a special affection for her brother Bob and Cathy Shier’s child Matt (Mimi) and their daughter Heather.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Larry, brothers Bernie and Robert and sister Margaret.

Due to current circumstances, a funeral mass and celebration of her life will be held in June at a time and place yet to be determined. In lieu of flowers donations can be made in Mary’s name to: St. Martha’s Church in Okemos 1100 W. Grand River Ave, Okemos, MI 48864; Crosaires Care Facility 5829 N. Zimmer Rd. Williamston, 48864; or the Great Lakes Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association alz.org/mglc for online donations.


  • Mass at a Later Date


Mary Helen Donovan

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Debra & David Lehmann

March 25, 2020

Katie, Judy, Tim and Joe,
What a beautiful tribute to your mother. The picture is a perfect reflection of the warm, caring person she was. She made everyone feel special. We will dearly miss her, and feel blessed to have had her in our lives. Although we may not have seen each other often, I felt great comfort in knowing that she was always there to offer an encouraging word or just listen. I will miss our talks. I’m sure “Margie“ is rejoicing they are together again. God Bless, warm hugs to all of you -David & Deb Lehmann and Family