Mary L. Kirschner Venker Mayer
February 12, 1927 – March 22, 2020
Mary Lou (nee Kirschner) Venker Mayer passed away March 22, 2020, at the age of 93 after a full, rich life of giving and compassion for others, and she will be deeply missed.
Mary Lou “Boo” came from a long line of strong women not the least of whom was her mother, who, alone, managed to keep her family of six children together during the Depression. In South St. Louis, Mary attended Our Lady of Sorrows Grade School, St. John the Baptist High School, and Harris Teachers College, where she was involved in the Glee Club and the choir. She greatly enjoyed her 5 years as a kindergarten teacher at Meramec School before she started a family, and later worked at the family business Barnard Stamp Co.
She married James B. (Jim) Venker in 1951, and they raised 5 children. After Jim’s death in 1988, she later married Walter F. Mayer (1991-1999).
Mary led a full, rich life in part because she was always giving to others. She was very involved in the lives of her children and grandchildren making sure they were exposed to music (piano lessons), theater, symphony, Muny Opera, sports, scouting and the outdoors as well as children’s programs at the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis Art Museum, and Missouri Botanical Garden. She had lifelong friends from grade school, high school and college. And, wherever she moved in her later years, she was always making new friends, finding new ways to include people in outings, and making people feel special.
She volunteered in many community organizations and took on leadership positions including: President, Jesuit Mothers’ Club; President, Immaculate Heart of Mary Ladies’ Sodality; Troop 1040 Cadet Girl Scout Leader; Den Mother Cub Scouts; and during college VP Neumann Club and Secretary Pi Kappa Sigma Sorority.
Mary had an insatiable curiosity about all of life: she started French lessons in her 30s shortly after her twins were born and tap dancing lessons in her 50s. She played in bridge and card groups until she was 91. She travelled internationally with both her husbands. She knit, sewed, quilted, gardened, followed the news avidly, and was still tackling new books until her last months.
Life was not always a bed of roses, and she overcame several tragedies: she never knew her father as he died in 1929, when she was only 2, the same year the Depression hit; and she lost her only and beloved brother Lt. Joe (Buddy) Kirschner, when he gave his life in Duren, Germany in Feb. 1945 as part of the Allied push to conclude WWII. She never stopped remembering him or sharing anecdotes about him.
Last but not least, she was a woman of strong religious faith, a devout Catholic her entire life, and was an active parishioner at Immaculate Heart, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Gabriel’s, St. Anselm’s, and Holy Redeemer.
One granddaughter summed up Mary Lou well at Mary’s 90th birthday celebration: “Grandma is a strong, independent woman. She is well educated, well read, and well traveled. She instilled a sense of good moral and ethical values in her children and grandchildren. She taught us the importance of manners and treating others with respect. She taught us that hard work pays off, and you cannot just sit back and wait for what you want in life; you have to work and fight hard for it. She taught us to have faith and to be strong when times get tough; that we must keep moving forward, even when it’s hard. She taught the importance of family and friends and surrounding yourself with the ones you love.”
Mary Lou will be deeply missed by her family: daughters Teri Venker (Madison, WI) and Joyce Cornwell (Tom; St. Louis); and her sons Josef Venker SJ (Seattle, WA) and Jim Venker (Molly, St. Louis); her grandchildren Stephen Venker, Peter Venker, Mary Cay Elhoffer (Taylor), Joe Mueller, Cecilia Venker, Matt Venker, Julia Venker, great-grandchildren Adelaide and Aurelia Elhoffer; her former daughter-in-law Lisa Herder, and many friends. She is preceded in death by her son Vincent H. Venker II, her husband of 37 years Jim B. Venker, her husband of 8 years Walter F. Mayer, her parents John Michael Kirschner and Helen (Fischer) Kirschner, and four sisters and one brother, all of whom she was close to.
If you want to honor her memory, please reflect on her many positive qualities and try to practice those with others. Paying her goodness forward would have made her happy.
Since large gatherings are not possible due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a celebration of her life and a memorial Mass will be at a later time.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a memorial gift in her name to Loyola Academy, 3851 Washington Ave. St. Louis, MO 63108 , www.loyolaacademy.org and/or Marian Middle School for Girls, 4130 Wyoming St, St. Louis, MO 63116, www.marianmiddleschool.org .
She was married to James B. (Jim) Venker in 1951, for 37 years, together they raised 5 children. After Jim’s death in 1988, she later married Walter F. Mayer (1991-1999) who she was married to for 8 years. .
Mary Lou will be deeply missed by her family: daughters Teri Venker (Madison, WI) , Joyce Cornwell (Tom; St. Louis); sons, Josef Venker SJ (Seattle, WA), Jim Venker (Molly, St. Louis) and the late Vincent H. Venker ll .
She will dearly missed by her grandchildren Stephen Venker, Peter Venker, Mary Cay Elhoffer (Taylor), Joe Mueller, Cecilia Venker, Matt Venker, Julia Venker great-grandchildren Adelaide and Aurelia Elhoffer; her former daughter-in-law Lisa Herder along with many friends.
She is preceded in death by her husbands: Jim B. Venker, Walter F. Mayer, son Vincent H. Venker II , her parents: John Michael Kirschner , Helen (Fischer) Kirschner, along with her four sisters and one brother, all of whom she was close to.
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Mary L. Kirschner Venker Mayer
Max Kaiser, Jr.
March 29, 2020
Dear Jim, Fr. Josef and All:
Please know of my deepest prayerful sympathy on you Mom MARY LOU's passing.
She is remembered in my family prayers...and some Masses will be catching up with you! May she rest in peace, and may all of you receive consolation at this time!
Max S Kaiser, Jr.
St Louis, MO
March 25, 2020
Marylou, was always Mrs. Venker to me and she treated me like one of her own. She fed me when I was hungry, scolded me when I was bad (often) and always told my parents what a good boy I was. I thought all families were full of love and joy, especially at my home and at the Venkers. I will never forget the memories I have from those times, all my best to Teri, Joe, Joyce and Jimmy, share the love that your mom shared with the world, love you guys.