BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Loved ones of a Berrien County woman killed in the Kalamazoo area shooting spree celebrated her life on Sunday.
The memorial service for Mary Jo Nye, 60, of Baroda was held at Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Battle Creek. Pastor Chad Parlamee opened the service with song and prayer.
Nye was remembered for her commitment for teaching. She taught at Lakeview Alternative High School and was instrumental in starting Calhoun Community High School.
“Mary Jo was an anchor in the storm for kids who had been set adrift,” Pastor Parmalee said.
“Connection with the kids, she was super. It was more than teaching. It was bringing things in from home, bringing things in for kids to wrap at Christmas to take home to their families because they might not have it,” said Chuck Crider, the retired director of Calhoun Community High School.
Former students shared memories of her dedication both in an outside the classroom and how she impacted their lives.
“One day she got on me for always skipping and always being late and I told her, ‘Well, it’s not my fault. My mom leaves for work in the morning and I can’t drive and there’s no buses so I just can’t be here sometimes.’ And her response was, ‘Well, I’ll be there in the morning. Be ready,’” one student said.
Nye grew up on a farm in Baroda. She gave back to her community through baking and knitting and worked with a homeless outreach program and animal shelter.
“Working with the homeless people in town with the Haven of Rest, and then to move from that to the animal shelter,” Lisa Johnson, Nye’s friend, said. “She just kind of was person who could shift and find a way to serve others.”
She also loved Lake Michigan, where she felt peaceful.
Mary Jo was with her sister-in-law, 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye and friends 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne, 74-year-old Dorothy Brown and 14-year-old Abigail Kopf when they were shot while in the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel in Texas Township last Saturday. All of the women were killed.
Another woman, 25-year-old Tiana Carruthers, was shot at an apartment complex in Richland Township. She is recovering.
The memorial for Rich and Tyler Smith, who were also killed in the spree at a Kalamazoo car dealership, was held on Saturday.