Mary Alice Winchell

April 3, 1924July 16, 2020

In the small farm community of Table Rock, Nebraska, Mary Alice Woods was born on April 3, 1924 to Edna Herrick Woods and Gerald Edgar Woods. She was a caring and gentle person.

After she graduated from high school in nearby Pawnee City, a classmate, Jimmy Dee Winchell, helped her and her family move to California. He and most of her male friends then served in WWII, and several lost their lives. Mary Alice was featured as “The Merkley-Austin Choir Girl” on a weekly radio broadcast from San Diego and still has some of the fan letters. Jim was shot while fighting the Germans. His buddies disobeyed orders to abandon the injured and they dragged him to safety anyway. He returned and married Mary Alice on August 17, 1947.

They lived in La Mesa and she worked at Western Lumber in downtown San Diego and later at DMV, doing transcriptions for the Division of Driver Safety. She enjoyed watching football (especially with her Nebraska Cornhuskers) and baseball, and playing games such as dominoes. She remained sharp and active well into her 80s.

Mary Alice and Jimmy Dee adopted two children, Annette Louise and Michael John. Mary Alice shared with them her love of music and was always there to support them and the five grand-children who followed, Rachel, James, Melissa, Amanda, and Richard. Her husband, Jim, and son, Mike, predeceased her, but Mary Alice also welcomed Patrick Farrior, Elaine Winchell, and James Cooney as they married into the family. She adored her one great-granddaughter, McKenna Cooney.

Mary Alice outlived many friends and relatives before eventually succumbing to dementia. She passed on July 16, 2020, at the age of 96. She will always be remembered for her dedication to family and positive encouragement to all.


  • Graveside Service

    Friday, August 7, 2020


Mary Alice Winchell

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Elaine Winchell

August 6, 2020

Beauty...inside and out.

I lucked out. You hear horror stories about relationships with mother-in-laws. Mary Alice broke the mold with her compassion and caring. She was a gifted listener and could always find the silver lining. Her positive attitude made her an absolute pleasure to be around.

I was blessed to know that my children and I had such a wonderful role model. I have no idea how many soccer games, softball games, ceremonies, and concerts she attended in support of her grandchildren. She adored them and certainly earned their adoration in return.

There were trips to the Grand Canyon, Seattle, and a houseboat on Lake Powell. There were games like Scrabble, Rummikub, and Mexican Train (dominoes). Family dinners were fantastic and the Christmas Eve traditions will always be remembered. Spending time together was special, even if we were just sitting and watching a baseball game on TV or running errands.

Even as she knew her mind was declining, she remained positive. I’ll never forget when we drove places, she would comment on how beautiful the clouds were.

As she has joined those in heaven, I pray I can perpetuate at least part of what she shared every day.

Love and peace to my hero, Mary Alice Winchell.

Lori Free-Trout

August 4, 2020

A wise, kind & gentle woman. Bright, articulate, caring & generous as well. Truly "One of a Kind". A Real Class Act. Mary Alice is missed.

Karen Stangl

August 4, 2020

Bright blue eyes that sparkled when she laughed; a beautiful head of hair that some of us envied; a laugh that was pure joy; a voice we loved to hear sing. Mary Alice was a beautiful woman on the outside, but her real beauty and important beauty came from within. She was kind, loving, generous, and happy. She enjoyed people and loved her family. She was always interested in everyone around her and enjoyed a good conversation or a laugh. She appreciated people and was a giving soul. Mary Alice had dignity, grace, kindness, integrity and she lived her life accordingly.
She is at peace, but never will she be forgotten.

Annette Farrior

August 3, 2020

Mom....I am going to miss you so much! You have always been my best friend, my cheer-leader and my unconditional supporter in all I have done. How lucky was I to have gotten you for my Mom? God had a plan for us. He knew I would need a Mom who knew about singing, because I was going to be a singer! Who knew?! All of our times singing together and all of my singing lessons you took me to and competitions I sang in. What great times we had!I know you had aspirations too! You made your dream of coming to California and singing on the radio a reality too. You weren't even 21 yrs old when you began singing on a weekly radio program as the Merkley-Austin Choir Girl. How exciting! You did that AND worked full time at the Lumber Co. downtown. You'd go on the trolley everyday during the week from El Cajon to work and then sing on the radio. It really must have been exciting to sing with a big band like that! As I grew up, not only were you my best supporter, but when I married and started a family you were always there ready to help, championing me and each of your grandkids in their many pursuits! You were carpooler(taxi),cheerleader on side-lines for cross-country & track meets, AND my cohort in arms-chair fans in the stands of softball games! You were my baby-sitter, my left arm and my right hand in our parenting life. We wouldn't have been able to do all we did without you! I know you loved every minute of it! Tho, now as "Nana" myself, I realize how exhausting it was actually for you!But bless your heart you never once complained! It's been a tough and interesting journey,for you in this last part of your life & I'm so sorry. EVERTHING has made this Covid Pandemic so difficult. I'm sorry we didn't get you called as much as you probably would have liked and I know it was confusing when we didnt visit you when you wanted. Happilly sing in the heavenly choir mom, and give Dad &Mike hugs. Tell Mike he better sing in that choir too! It's his turn to sing with you!

sharon schmidt

July 30, 2020

I will really miss MaryAlice she was such a wonderful person. She was a kind, caring. thoughtful person. I always enjoyed doing her hair,we had such good conversations. MaryAlice always look so pretty, hair done, nails done and she had great looking outfits.I loved her very much. Rest in peace MaryAlice.


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