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Mary Tatter died on Jan. 11, 2022, at her home in Watervliet, surrounded by her family.

Mary Ellen Tatter was born to Bernice and George Tomlinson in Springfield, IL on May 16, 1938, and was raised primarily in West Frankfort, IL. She also attended Camp Watervliet during the summers, which was owned and run by Velda and Henry Tatter. Mary married their son, Jordan Tatter, in 1959. Together, they had two sons, Stephen and Scott. Mary moved to Watervliet in 1960. She traveled the world, but could not imagine living anywhere else. She was deeply dedicated to Watervliet and Southwestern Michigan.

Mary attended Southern Illinois University and Michigan State University, where she studied special education. She remained dedicated to children, education and learning for the rest of her life, through her work as a counselor, water-skiing instructor, and program director at Camp Watervliet; as a reading tutor in Watervliet and Benton Harbor; as a youth group leader at Watervliet Plymouth Congregational Church in the 1960s and 70s; through her involvement as a 4-H Foundation board member, and on the board of the Watervliet District Library. She was a trusted mentor to many children in the area, with whom she formed loving friendships that lasted into their adulthoods.

Mary also served on other boards, including of the Community Hospital in Watervliet, and volunteered her time often and whenever called upon. She was the patron of any animal who was lucky enough to wander to her Paw Paw Lake home, and a true animal lover. She voted in every election, and often volunteered to help others exercise their civic duty.

Mary loved her family, and they adored her. She will be deeply missed by her sons Stephen (Kathleen), of Winston-Salem, NC and Scott (Wendy) of St. Augustine, FL; grandchildren Jordan, Emmett, Zachary, Grace, Abigail “Abby,” James, and John; and her nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jordan; her beloved sister, Jeanie Patterson; her nephews, Taylor and Tro Patterson; her brothers, George and David Tomlinson; her parents, George and Bernice; and her Uncle Lyle Foster “Tommy” and Aunt Betty Tomlinson.

The family would like to thank Caring Circle Hospice and Maria and Tracy of Right at Home.

A service by the family remembering Mary’s life was held Saturday, Jan. 15 at Duffield & Pastrick Family Funeral Home in Coloma where the family will begin receiving friends one hour prior to the service. Those wishing to leave an online message of remembrance may do so at A recording of the service will also be made available on the funeral home’s website for those who cannot attend in person.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Tatter Family Fund for Southwest Michigan at the Berrien Community Foundation, or the charity of your choice.


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