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Agnes May Conway, 97, of New Buffalo, died peacefully, Wednesday, October 11, 2023 in the presence of her family.
Her life began May 20, 1926 in North Liberty, Indiana, the youngest of five children born to Henry and Sadie Stull. She married Maurice Conway in Miami. Florida in 1947. After twenty-four years of marriage, he preceded her in death in 1971.
Agnes grew up on the family’s farm a couple miles east of North Liberty, Indiana. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the garden, chickens, cows, and hogs kept the family fed. Her father built a smokehouse to cure the ham and bacon and took the potatoes and fresh eggs into town to barter for flour and other necessary staples that could not be grown on the farm. They also wisely bartered for the services of professionals, like doctors, to care for the family.
Agnes was only eight years old when her mother passed away and later, when her father passed, she moved to her Aunt Eliza’s home in Mishawaka, Indiana. She graduated from high school in 1944 and in 1946, she met her future husband when both were employed at the Oliver plant in South Bend, Indiana. The couple migrated to Miami, Florida where their first child, Bob, was born and in the late 1940’s, the family moved to Columbia, South Carolina. Their second child, Saundra, joined the family before they returned to Maurice’s hometown of Norwalk, Ohio. During their years in Norwalk, Ohio, the third child, Frank, and fourth child, Bill, were born. Agnes remained busy in her role of mother, and was elected president of the PTA and offered her services as Sunday school teacher and organist in her local church.
From the year 1957 to 1958, the family fondly remembers living on a sheep farm south of Norwalk, Ohio, before finally moving to Michigan. In New Buffalo, Michigan, Agnes was again elected PTA president and became Sunday School superintendent at the New Buffalo Methodist Church. She served as a Girl Scout leader, organizing day camps and other activities, and took a job driving school bus for New Buffalo Area Schools. Jackie, Agnes’s fifth child, was born in St. Anthony’s Hospital in Michigan City, Indiana.
After Maurice passed away, Agnes began working with Harry Durlin, owner of Durlin Paints of New Buffalo, where she learned the arts of painting and wallpapering. Over the years, she painted and papered hundreds of homes and businesses in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. She was well-known for the quality of her work and the fairness of her pricing. For many years, she continued to plant gardens and even supplied her home-made pies to local restaurants. After going it alone as a single mom for a few years, she was joined by her long-time best friend, Wilburn Lawson, who was also an active gardener as well as an expert auto mechanic. Because Agnes was not quite busy enough, she decided to enroll as a nursing student at Lake Michigan College, where she earned a two-year degree.
Agnes then entered local politics and served New Buffalo Township from 1970 to 2008 as Parks Committee member, Election Inspector, Deputy Treasurer, Township Supervisor, Planning Commissioner, and Pine Grove Cemetery Board member. During this time, Agnes was also instrumental in helping the Pottawatomi tribe obtain their sovereignty status. She also was instrumental in the installation of municipal water and sewer service for the township. She helped Berrien County obtain the land that is now known as Galien River County Park and also helped in the creation of Memorial Park at the Township Hall.
In addition to her other many roles and gifts, Agnes was a superb seamstress, cook, and baker. Many New Buffalo residents were blessed by the dozens of loaves of homemade bread and thousands of cookies that she distributed during the holiday season. In addition, her pies were a legendary delight.
Agnes Conway was a friend to many and the enemy of few. She often helped neighbors in need, unpacked her groceries into other families’ pantries, and sometimes even took in complete strangers in distress. She also was a fearless warrior for democracy, human rights, responsible government, public safety, and community service all while being a loving mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She had a kind and generous heart. Imprinted into the memories of her children are the many occasions that their mother employed the philosophy that kite-flying and bike-riding took precedence over routine household chores. In other words, Agnes was a fun and loving mother. There isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her children as she loved them more than life itself. They too have an immense love for their mother.
Agnes will be greatly missed by family and friends. She is survived by two daughters, Saundra Mortenson of Cassopolis, Jacqueline Poff of Michigan City, Indiana; three sons, Bob (Carol) Conway of Niles, Frank Conway of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bill (Rebecca) Conway of New Buffalo; five grandchildren, Bryan (Erin) Mortenson, Elizabeth (Ben) Hoekman, Jacob (Ashley Thompson) Poff, Katherine (Michael) Cooke, Ryan (Kaitlynn) Poff; seven great grandchildren, Ava, Madison, Jaxon, Kaden, Weston, Sylvia, Henry; and a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Maurice; her best friend, Wilburn Lawson; one sister, Helen Crouse; three brothers, Vern Stull, Roy Stull, and George Stull.
Family and friends will gather from 11:00 a.m. until time of service at 12:00 noon, Friday, October 20, 2023, in the Converge Community Church, 601 West Buffalo Street, New Buffalo.
Ms. Conway will be laid to rest beside her beloved husband in a private service in Mission Hills Memorial Gardens, Niles.
The family prefers contributions in memory of Agnes be made to Michiana Humane Society, 722 IN-212, Michigan City, Indiana 46360.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Wagner Family Funerals Pobocik Chapel, Three Oaks. Please share a memory or a message online: wagnercares.com.