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A Family Tradition of Dignified Service

Mary Louise Gharrity

November 20, 1928 February 16, 2022
Mary  Louise Gharrity
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Obituary for Mary Louise Gharrity

Mary Lou Gharrity passed away peacefully early Wednesday morning on February 16th, 2022 at her residence at West Lake Health Campus.  She was 93 years old.  She was born in Ann Arbor Michigan in 1928 where she grew up working in the family hotel and restaurant.  As a child Mary Lou began her life of service to the Milford community when her family bought and ran “Ye Olde Hotel” and the adjacent theater. Though her father died when she was young, she and her mother continued to run the theater on their own for many years.  

After her mom remarried and Mary Lou graduated from Milford H.S. in 1946, they sold the theater and Mary Lou studied to become a banker.  She met the love of her life Robert “Bob” Gharrity when he would come in to make regular deposits from the Milford Times newspaper, which they would eventually own from 1950-1975 with an office in the center of Main Street Milford.  Bob went to serve in WWII and fortunately survived his tour in Europe including the invasion of Omaha Beach at Normandy. This solidified her love of country and service.  She was a true American patriot and loved turning parades into family gatherings and parties.  She was Huron Valley Area citizen of the year in 1994 and eventually Grand Marshall of the Fourth of July Milford Parade in 2015.    

Her love of service drove her to become a founding member of the Zonta (International) Club of Milford where she served honorably for sixty years.  During her tenure she oversaw various projects and influenced improving women's lives, education levels, their communities and women's status in society. She eventually became the Governor of Michigan Zonta, representing women from across the state.  During this time she traveled the world representing women internationally.  She was also instrumental in raising money for the playground equipment in the Milford park where several residents recall seeing her with tools in her hand installing the playground equipment.  

A life member of the Order of Eastern Star and an instrumental founder of the Milford Historical Society, she served as the proud curator of the Milford museum for many years.  She loved to tell the story of how one fall night an antlered deer (buck) entered the museum and wreaked havoc.  Miraculously there was no major loss.  One of her favorite annual events was tea at the Jackson house during the annual parade of homes.  

Spiritually she was a devout Christian, serving the Milford Presbyterian  Church as the business manager until a disabling stroke removed her capacity at the age of 88.  Her 90th birthday was celebrated at West Lake Health Campus with the attendance of what seemed like half the town of all ages.  She was overjoyed with the celebration. 

Always a lady, witty, sharp and extremely knowledgeable, Mary Lou loved people and had an undermining sense of humor. Though many knew she could be bossy or snip at them, deep down they knew she was a kind hearted, sweet woman who always wanted what was best for others and the future of her town and country. She had a strong work ethic and loved both physical work (gardening) and mental challenges.  She set expectations for others to do the same. Her door was always open and she enjoyed sharing her wealth of knowledge.  Family would often joke that before there was Google there was Mary Lou!  She was commonly sought after to answer questions of the unknown by friends, family and community members.

She is survived by her loving nieces and nephews: Bill and Jeff Gunther, their wives and families, Robert (Bob) Piotrowski, Anne and Jane Piotrowski, in addition to countless friends, and a community blessed 
with a lifetime of her influence and service.

A memorial service will be held in her honor at a later date.   

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to: 
The Milford Historical Society
Milford Presbytarian Church
The Mary Louise Gharrity Scholarship fund (Zonta Club of Milford) or Hospice of Michigan

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