Obituary for Mary Stradinger
April 9, 1931 – January 5, 2021
On Tuesday, January 5, 2021, Mary Erkenbrecher Stradinger passed away at her home in Grass Valley, California. She was eighty-nine years old.
Mary was born on April 9, 1931, in Pasadena, California, to parents Helen and Byron Erkenbrecher. Helen later married Don Whittier, and so Mary became the second youngest of seven children. Mary was adventurous, inquisitive, and eager to learn from a young age. At just fourteen years old, she started taking flight lessons, and at sixteen, she soloed for the first time. Mary went on to earn her private pilot’s license and often flew her dad’s Beechcraft Bonanza to visit friends
Mary received her bachelor’s degree in three years from the University of California, Berkeley, where she majored in history and English. After graduating in 1953, Mary launched her career as a teacher. She taught elementary school for over twenty years in the school districts of Ceres, Napa Valley, and Cupertino Union. Passionate about literature, Mary desired to share the joy of reading with all of her students so that they would leave her classroom as confident, eager readers. She always managed to connect with each child’s own gifts and special interests.
As a single mom teaching in Cupertino, Mary met Jim, a fellow teacher, and a few years later they married on March 19, 1967. They lived in Los Altos for twenty years before moving to Grass Valley in 1982. There they built their dream home, which became a beloved destination for family and friends for years to come. Mary was an avid gardener and lover of nature, and she was inspired to create an expansive garden that reflected the natural environment where they lived. Mary’s other passions included tennis, hiking, traveling the world (she especially loved seeing the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti), and, most of all, gathering together with her family for outings and other adventures. She considered nature to be the ultimate teacher and often planned trips with the hopes of immersing herself in a destination’s environment. In 2017 Mary and Jim and the family embarked on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate the couple’s fiftieth anniversary, sailing through Glacier Bay National Park and making various port stops along the way. Mary thought of this as an opportunity to bring the family together and spend time with her young adult grandchildren, all while exploring the natural wonders Alaska has to offer.
Mary was also an active member of her community, and she generously gave of herself in time, talent, and treasure. She volunteered for Interfaith Food, Music in the Mountains, and Hospice of the Foothills, where she served as a caregiver, board member, and president of the organization.
Her greatest wish fulfilled, Mary passed surrounded by her husband of fifty-three years, her three children and their spouses, and her cherished dog, Chamois. Mary is survived by her husband, Jim Stradinger; her son Stan Hook and his wife Sue, her daughter Jori Hook and her husband Jonathan Walker, and her son Kyle Hook and his wife Beckie; and her grandchildren, Alan Hook, Valerie Eichten and her husband Chad, Lauren Hook, and Phoebe Walker.
The family extends gracious thanks to the wonderful caregivers at hospice who brought comfort and peace to Mary in her final months.
In lieu of sending flowers, please consider making a memorial contribution to Hospice of the Foothills or your local hospice organization in commemoration of Mary’s life and work.
Services are under the direction of Hooper & Weaver Mortuary, Inc
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