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Mary L. Nielsen, age 77, of Greenville, passed away Sunday, September 13, 2020 at Spectrum Health-Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids following a sudden illness.

Born on January 14, 1943 in Greenville, Mary grew up in Trufant and earned her high school diploma from Lakeview High School.  On July 9, 1958, she married Gary Nielsen and together they raised two children and divorced after 25 years of marriage.

Mary also worked outside the home for the United States Postal Service, serving for many years as Postmaster of Trufant.  In retirement, she worked as a paraprofessional at Cedar Crest and Lincoln Heights Elementary Schools.  She was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, enjoyed playing “Words with Friends”, but found her greatest joy in time spent with her family  —  especially her grandchildren.  She delighted in attending their school and athletic events.

On April 9, 1985, in Panama City, Florida, she married Reginald G. “Reggie” Towers and together they enjoyed almost 15 years of marriage until he passed away on March 7, 2000.  She was also preceded in death by her mother, Elizabeth Jane “Betty” Norton-Wilson;  an uncle and aunt, Manus & Pat Norton;  a special cousin, Mindy G. Norton.

Surviving are her daughter and son-in-law, Tara & Jim Babbitt;  a son, Larry Nielsen;  her grandchildren, Trevor Nielsen, Mitchell Babbitt, Jack Babbitt, Lilly Babbitt, Elizabeth & Brandon Arntz;  a brother and sister-in-law, Jim & Bonnie Wilson;  two nephews, Chad Wilson and Eric Wilson; her significant other of the past 20 years, Ted Cowles, and his family;  and her former husband and the father of her children, Gary Nielsen.

Visitation with the family is from 10-11 a.m. on Friday, September 18, 2020 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 9844 S.W. Greenville Road, Greenville, where memorial services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, with the Rev. Betsy Kamphuis, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church officiating.

Instead of flowers, Mary would have appreciated memorial contributions to the Greenville Area Ecumenical Food Mission (in care of St. Paul Lutheran Church).  Envelopes will be available at the church.

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Mary’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:

Cremation arrangements were entrusted to Christiansen’s Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Greenville, (616) 754-5638.


Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.


  1. Jean Nielsen on September 15, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    Mary and I shared many cups of coffee ! Always had much to talk about. Rit and I played many games of bridge with Mary and Gary. We also enjoyed watching our boys play basketball and getting together with others for snacks and drinks after the games!! Many happy memories. Rest in peace Mary!
    Jean and Rit Nielsen

  2. Mike and Rachelle Stout on September 15, 2020 at 6:07 pm

    So, so, very sorry you have to lose her. I know she will truly be missed by all of her family. Our hearts break for you Tara and Larry. Please know that our prayers for comfort and peace are with you and that faith, family, and friends Will help you heal. With Love, Mike and Rachelle

  3. Tom and Cathy Cornell on September 15, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Mary and I used to run into each other now and then at Meijers when she lived in Greenville. We always took time to catch up with one another about our families. Sending our condolences to all the families. She will be missed. Jim, so sorry for your loss.

  4. Judith K Orlowski on September 15, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    Our deepest condolences to all of Mary’s family,living next door to Mary while growing up in Trufant I have many great memories of our days spent together in our childhood years. I will all WAYS remember the freedom we had to play and be safe in our small town.Rest in Peace Mary Lou,Prayers and peace to your children and grandchildren. Ed and Judy Orlowski/(Ludy Lites)

  5. Krista Lopez on September 15, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Mary had a warm heart that welcomed conversation. We could always find something to talk about together. She will be missed by myself and many others. I’ll never forget what a great companion she was for my Great Uncle Ted.

  6. John and Janet Stokely on September 15, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    Mary was a dear life long friend who will be missed by all that knew her. Prayers for peace and comfort to family and friends. May we celebrate her life with fond memories and stories as we mourn her loss together.

  7. Marie Caruso on September 16, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Larry and Tara, although I only knew your Mother Mary for a year, she blessed me with her sweet nature and kind words. I admired the aforation she had for you! I will alway remember the last words she said to me,”I love you.” ♡

  8. Marie Caruso on September 16, 2020 at 10:14 am

    Larry and Tara, although I only knew your Mother Mary for a year, she blessed me with her sweet nature and kind words. I admired the adoration she had for you! I will alway remember the last words she said to me,”I love you.” ♡

  9. Kathy Beard on September 17, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Larry & Tara, When I went to Trufant to work in the bank is when I met your Mother & we became friends & have stayed in touch. I will miss her. My prayers are with you both & your families.

  10. Darrell Stevens on September 17, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    So sorry to hear of Mary’s passing. Larry and I have been friends since middle school and still try to play golf once a week in the summer. She was a wonderful lady, so full of life. My condolences for the family. She will be missed.

  11. Ron Petersen on September 17, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    Larry & Tara so sorry to hear of your loss. Growing up in Trufant I naturally knew Mary my whole life. I would run into her & Ted frequently in Greenville and enjoyed catching up with her. She will be greatly missed. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  12. Julie Slentz on September 18, 2020 at 10:47 am

    After knowing Mary for 70 plus years, there are many memories and stories – the Trufant girls. Mary you will be missed and always rememered. Rest in Peace my friend.

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