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Mary Peters

Mary Peters, 92, of Arthur, died Sunday, December 6, 2020 at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon.

There will be a memorial service at a later date. Shrader Funeral Home, Arthur, is assisting the family with arrangements.

Mary was born April 20, 1928 in Monticello, the daughter of Byron and Loreen Tarr Lewis.

She is survived by her daughter Karen; grandkids, Heidi Andrews and Mark Cox; step grandkids, Lauri Knapp Cox and Cathy Witte Cox; great grandchildren, Reed and Katie Andrews and Eva Mary Cox. She was preceded in death by her daughter, Janice Cox; 2 brothers, Paul and Wayne Lewis; and sister, Patty Lacoax.

Online condolences to the family may be sent to

Mary lived a long and full life often defined by struggling to survive a childhood in rural southern Illinois during the depression.

She was the hardest working person I knew and took great satisfaction in doing a job well and working until it was done. She was not “work-brittle” as she would say: loading feed sacks and helping her dad with farm chores and taking care of her family and home even when she was bone-tired. She didn’t sit back and let others do the work. She saw what needed to be done, and did it.

Mary loved the outdoors and getting her hands in the dirt. She actually liked to pull weeds! Her yard was more roses and flowers than grass, but she loved to mow the grass. The neighbors said she shamed them into mowing more often. She loved working with her friend, Cecil Walker, at the family farm and enjoying the fresh produce. She was an avid mushroom hunter. Janice would eagerly organize mushroom hunts and we would slog through the cold and mud all day to end up with 1 or 2 mushrooms that Mom had found. She would make a big production of cooking the lone mushroom. But sometimes the morel hunts would yield a bounty and Mom knew how to cook them!

Mary was a wizard with a needle and crochet hook. Her doilies, afghans, quilts, and astounding cross-stitch pictures have graced the homes of friends and family. Even my classroom walls were covered with her pictures. She made crocheted toys for Mark when he was little.

Mary especially loved Christmas. Her light display was massive. And that was just the outside. It would take us many days to put them all out and just as many to put them away. I was always nervous about the electrical risk, but I didn’t dare quibble. Mark once said we didn’t need directions to her house. We just followed the glow in the sky.

There was nothing more important than family to Mary. She went to every family reunion, kept in touch with her sister, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins. Being an Illini basketball fan, she delighted in calling her Indiana siblings to gloat about an Illini win and an Indiana loss.

Family get-togethers were so special to her. She loved to be around the little children and I think it gave her the freedom to be just like a little kid herself. She doted on her grandchildren and great grandchildren and showered them with love and attention.

Community was very special to her. It seemed that she knew everyone in Arthur. When her grandson was little and visiting, he asked, “Grandma, do you know everyone in Arthur?” She was a parent of 2 girls, worked at the bank for 38 years, was secretary/treasurer of the county fair for 25 years+, an active member of the Methodist church, BP and W, Women’s Club, election judge and secretary of the water board and never missed school events or a visitation or condolence for residents. She was a familiar sight doing her daily 2-mile walk, stopping to talk with neighbors.

All in all, Mary’s album of her life was filled with family, community, friends, adventures, sorrows, joys and blessings. We were all part of her treasures and memories and she is a precious part of ours.

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