Mary Beth (Smith) Walen



Memorial Contributions:

Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters

Annual Scholarship Fund of Aquinas College

C/O Director of Development

2025 E. Fulton Street Grand Rapids, MI 49503-3895


St. Thomas Education Foundation Tuition Angel Fund

1449 Wilcox Park Drive SE Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Mary Beth (Smith) Walen, lifelong liberal, social justice advocate, and ice cream devotee, passed away peacefully, surrounded by the love of her family and friends, Friday, October 13, 2023.

Mary Beth was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Ray (1982) as well as dear family members: Andrew Patrick and Margaret McGavin Smith, “Abbey” McGavin, A. Patrick Smith Jr., Evie Britt Smith, Sheila Pupel, Ned (Patricia) Smith, John and Martha Gasper Walen, Evelyn (Harry) Levandoski.

She is survived by her children: Chuck Walen, John (Grace Huizinga) Walen MD, Sheila (Ralph) Martin, Peter (Connie Young) Walen, Betsie (Kenneth Smith) Walen, Jim (Julie) Walen,12 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren as well as her sister-in-law, Dorothy Wernette, brother-in-law, Daniel S. Pupel, Sr., former daughter-in-law Annette Walen MD, dozens of nieces, nephews, and countless friends.

Mary Beth was a proud graduate of St Joseph School (Rumsey SW), Marywood Academy, and Aquinas College (1951). Mary Beth taught 5th grade at Madison School in Grand Rapids, before raising her family. She gave piano lessons to her children and neighborhood children in her home, always encouraging them to continue their musical pursuits and to count out loud. She earned her certification for Early Childhood Education and worked as a Reading, Kindergarten & Pre-school Teacher at St. Isidore and St. Thomas the Apostle Schools. Mary Beth loved teaching children, watching their growth, and telling stories of “her kids,” whether they were her school or piano students.

Mary Beth married Raymond C. Walen in 1953, losing him suddenly after only 29 years of marriage. She often expressed her sadness that he missed out on seeing their 6 children “grow up” and the fun of grandchildren.

An active member of St Thomas the Apostle Parish since 1953, Mary Beth participated in many ministries and social groups throughout those 70 years, especially treasuring her roles as Hospital Minister and Eucharistic Minister.

Visitation with the family will be held from 2-4pm and 6-8pm, Vigil and Sharing at 7pm, on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at O’Brien-Eggebeen-Gerst Chapel, 3980 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546. Mass of Christian Burial will be at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish at 10:30 AM, Wednesday, October 18, 2023 with visitation one hour prior and a luncheon to follow mass.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters, Annual Scholarship Fund of Aquinas College, Director of Development 2025 E. Fulton Street Grand Rapids, MI 49503-3895 or the St. Thomas Education Foundation Tuition Angel Fund, 1449 Wilcox Park Drive SE Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Sign the Guestbook

6 Responses

  1. Am so very sorry to learn of the loss of your dear mother and grandmother. I will always remember Mary Beth as one of my mother’s best neighborhood friends with that wonderful smile, all her laughter, and her true kindness towards others. Am so glad I attended her 80’th birthday party and have photos from that wonderful celebration. God bless you all as you celebrate her life and mourn her passing. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. — Lynne’ (Barnaby) Morrow

  2. Dear God,
    You called Mary Beth home, leaving her earthly body to live for all eternity with You. Her family entrusts her to Your care. Thank you for creating her in Your image. She truly reflected Your love with her family, church, career, and friends. Thank you for the amazing memories her family and friends will carry with them. May those memories eventually bring smiles and laughter to all.

  3. Dear Cousins Chuck, Jack, Shelia, Peter, Betsy and Jim,
    Your Mom was a wonderful human being, woman, aunt and so much more. Her kindness, smile, and truly good nature are some of the things I will always remember, along with piano and other music that filled your house. Sending you hugs of peace and comfort across the miles as you bid “farewell for now” to your Mom as she now enjoys her eternal reward where she is no longer burdened by her pain and bodily limitations and is rejoined with your Dad and other loved ones. While I am unable to be there physically, I am spiritually as I pray for you all. There is a song I find very remarkable and comforting “We Can Cry with Hope” by Stephen Curtis Chapman because as the lyrics say, “We can cry with hope because we know our goodbyes are not the end.” Thanks Betsy for the link to watch the funeral, which I intend to do today. God Bless each of you and your families. Love, Karen Wernette DiBiasio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.