After a four-year battle with pancreatic cancer, Mary Randall, 75, passed away in her Huntsville, Texas, home on September 17, 2016. She died peacefully, surrounded by family.
Mary was born January 29, 1941, in New Waverly, Texas, to Robert Smith and Rosalie Krystyniak Smith. Growing up on a working farm, where everything from meat to butter for the table were produced right there at home, shaped Mary into a very hearty, strong, practical, and hardworking person. A childhood spent in that small, close-knit community filled with Eastern European immigrants also instilled in her an appreciation for maintaining ties with extended family and living where, quite literally, everybody knows your name.
When she was 21, Mary married John Wheeler Randall, made a home in Huntsville, Texas, and they had four children - Kay, Joan, and twins Daniel and Darrell.
Mary worked for the U.S. Postal Service for almost 30 years and was one of the first female full-time mail carriers in Huntsville. After spending the first part of her career carrying rural routes, Mary was honored to take on the job of managing the Elkins Lake post office. Being a postal worker allowed Mary to indulge her gregarious nature, and she made many close friends in the Huntsville community over the three decades of her career. Although it was a little less common at the time to be a working mother, Mary was proud to meet both challenges. Her success at working full-time while raising four children was a great inspiration to many who knew her - especially to her daughters.
When not working, Mary loved cooking and gardening - and eating well. She particularly enjoyed baking and frequently shared the fruits of her labor with friends and family. Many a warm pie made its way to neighbors, fellow church members, and coworkers during her lifetime.
When Mary wasn't busy in the kitchen, she was absorbed in reading cookbooks, the collection of which filled a wall of her home. She could lose herself in the pages of a good, beautifully illustrated cookbook the way others do in a novel. She also had a very gifted green thumb. In addition to raising a jungle of lush potted plants, she also maintained an abnormally large vegetable garden, which some passersby mistook for a commercial enterprise.
Perhaps one of the most unique things about Mary was her willingness to engage in the hard work of tending the land her family lived on. As anyone who knew her is aware, she could more than hold her own against the men. Whether it was baling hay or vaccinating calves, Mary was on the spot, doing the work that needed to be done and exercising an intellect that was particularly well-suited to the business of farming and ranching.
After her retirement in February 2001, Mary was able to spend more time on her hobbies as well as with her granddaughters, Sara and Jill. Just as she was born to be "Mama," she also was a natural at filling the role of "Mimi."
Mary cared for John through his two-and-a-half year cancer ordeal, and six years after his death was diagnosed herself. She handled cancer the way she handled everything else in her life - with toughness, pragmatism, and courage. In surviving for more than four years, she defied all odds for a patient with her diagnosis.
Mary and John were charter members of Chapelwood Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents and by John, her husband of 45 years. She is survived by her four children; daughter-in-law Cynthia Randall; two granddaughters, Sara and Jill Randall; brother John Robert Smith and his wife Chiquita; her husband's sisters Shirley Taliaferro, Sarah Lynch, and Mary Dawson and brothers-in-law Steve Dawson and Phil Lynch; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Mary's family wishes to extend deep thanks to "special angels" Mary Jo Pool, Shirley Taliaferro, Roy Walker, Terry Vogler, Dena Davis, and Steve Jeter for the love and care they provided during her illness.
The family will receive friends on September 23 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held Saturday, September 24, at 1 p.m. at Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home in Huntsville, Texas. Burial will follow at Ebenezer Memorial Cemetery, also in Huntsville.
Pallbearers are nephews Tony Taliaferro, Terry Taliaferro, Stephen Dawson, Russell Dawson, and Steve Osborn and dear family friend Troy Walker.
Flowers may be sent to Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Home, 1700 Normal Park Dr., Huntsville, Texas 77340.
Full obituary may be viewed and memorial condolences made to the family at www.shmfh.com.
Published on  September 21, 2016