Mary Erika Purcell
May 4, 1948 - September 7, 2023
Ukiah lost a kind and gentle soul when Mary Erika Purcell passed away on September 7, 2023 at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento with her husband Jim and her sons Jim Jr. and Stephen holding her hands. Mary had battled Acute Myeloid Leukemia since April, 2022, never once expressing a complaint and always thankful for a 14 month long remission from mid-2022 to June 2023. She often quietly said “Every day is a blessing. God has given me these pleasant days”.
Mary was born in Kassel, Germany and lived there for the first ten years of her life with her parents, Sergeant First Class John A. and Erika (Pletsch) Young. Her early education was in German schools in Kassel. At age ten, the family relocated to the United States as her father served our country in the U. S. Army. She quickly learned English, but she remained fluent in the German language her entire life. Anyone who knew Mary knew that there was always German music playing in the family home. She continued her education in schools throughout the USA and abroad as her father was posted to different assignments during his military career. She was a 1965 graduate of Clover Park High School in Lakewood, Washington and Data Training Center in Lawton, Oklahoma.
She met her future husband Jim at Fort Sill, Oklahoma during the summer of 1971. Jim and her father were both stationed there at the time. In late fall of 1971, she returned to Germany when her father was posted to an artillery unit in Neu Ulm. She and Jim maintained contact through letters and audio tapes and decided to marry. Jim flew to Germany and they were married in the Post Chapel in Neu Ulm on May 13, 1972. They then returned to Fort Sill until Jim completed his service in the Army. They celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary with family and friends before having to return to Sacramento in June, 2023.
Mary was initially employed by the Comanche County Health Department in Lawton, Oklahoma. After Jim and Mary relocated to Ukiah, she was employed as a medical secretary for Dr. Matthew Howard. She was thereafter employed by the Ukiah Unified School District as a Teaching Assistant in the Resource Specialist Program. She initially worked at Oak Manor Elementary School, and later for eighteen years with Teacher Chris Herman at Nokomis Elementary School. She worked for the School District for a total of thirty years. Over the years there were so many times when former students would recognize her in town and approach her to give her hugs and thank her for patiently helping them in their classes. Mary and Chris remained best friends for the rest of her life. Mary and Jim always had a strong love for wirehair fox terriers, having gotten their first one in 1972 at Fort Sill. Friends will remember her walking in Ukiah, especially near Ukiah High School, with Jim and a wirehair terrier by her side. Mary was so proud of her family and loved them with all her heart. She will always be remembered fondly for her quiet presence and gentle smile at every family gathering.
Mary was predeceased by her parents, John and Erika, and her beloved Uncle Heinz Pletsch. She is survived by her husband Jim Sr, sons Jim Jr. and Stephen (Amanda) Purcell, both of Ukiah, five beloved grandsons (Kaleb, Trenten, Holden, Porter, and Karson), her deeply loved Uncle Russ Young and cousins in Michigan, and nephews Heinz Pletsch Jr. and James. In addition, she is survived by brothers-in-law Thomas (Laurie) and Michael Purcell in southern California, and sister in-law Mary Elizabeth (Shawn) Waggoner in Wisconsin.
The family has entrusted Eversole Mortuary with the final arrangements for Mary. There will be Visitation hours on Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 18 and 19 between 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM each day. A gathering will be held at the gravesite at 10:30 AM on Wednesday, September 20 at the Russian River Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, Mary requested that any donations be made to The Humane Society of Inland Mendocino County.