Mary Catherine Malek was born on November 6, 1925 to Marguerite (Carl) and Valentine Malek at Cawker City, Kansas. She left this life peacefully in Russell, KS on September 14, 2022 at the age of 96. Mary grew up in the Malek bakery run by her parents along with her siblings, sister Louise and brothers Carl, Leo and Ted. She received her education at St. Theresa Academy and Cawker City High School. Her father, Valentine, died in November, 1942. Mary and her mother moved to California to be near their family. She graduated with the Class of 1943 at Pomona Valley High School. Mary returned to Kansas and with close friends from high school ventured into the working world in Iowa. On one bus ride from Kansas to Madison, Iowa she met Nolan Lucas. True love prevailed and they were married on May 14, 1946 in Peoria, Illinois. They resided in St. Joseph, MO for several years then moved to Kansas City, KS. Near their retirement years, they moved to Mission, KS. They were blessed to be married 44 years. They received the Blessed Sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic Church on September 7, 1986. They enjoyed visiting family and traveling throughout the world. Beaches were her favorite. Nolan died in 1990 of cancer. Mary went on to meeting another companion in her life and she and Dudley Potter enjoyed traveling, camping and friends for 29 years. When Mary’s health began failing, she moved to Russell to be near her niece Carleen. She was able to enjoy several trips to her hometown of Cawker City.
Mary spent most of her career working at Midwest Research Institute. It was a high security research facility for the government. She was printing department manager and retired with over 30 years. She enjoyed many close friendships with fellow workers and continued to stay in touch with them well after retirement. She was a loyal friend to many. Mary enjoyed sports especially football as she always said she grew up watching her brothers play football. Until arthritis took a toll on her fingers, she was an avid crochet fan. She enjoyed reading – always a book in her hand, listening to music and spending time by the pool. And could she shop – loved to shop and for many years she could outwalk her nieces at the malls. And she always had her lipstick on. One of the most important tasks in her life was having her hair done weekly. She was blessed to have the same hairdresser, Debbie, for over 40 years. Even in her last days of illness, her question would be “What about my hair?” And of course, no one could replace Debbie.
Mary loved her family dearly and family times together. Even though no children were born to Nolan and her, they dearly loved the Malek and Lucas nieces, nephews and their families. Mary had 3 generations of great nieces and nephews. Mary had many happy memories of the Lucas family and Macon County, MO where Nolan was raised. Mary spent many vacations in California to see her siblings and their children. Mary also enjoyed a close relationship with many Carl cousins. Growing up, they spent Sundays together when the large families would meet for Sunday dinner and fun. Throughout the years, she would meet and correspond with her cousins. Sadly, just a few remain but she still tried to keep in touch with Jo Hadley and Loretta Brand along with cousin-in-law Mary (Mike) Baier.
Mary is preceded in death by her husband Nolan, parents, Maggie and Val Malek, siblings Louise (Andy-deceased) Anderson, Carl, Bub and Ted Malek. Also nieces and nephews, Eddie and Ricky (Laura) Malek, Peggy (Leo-deceased) DeZoete, Patty Malek, Cathy Malek and Virgil (Pauline-deceased) Lucas along with his children Deborah, Karen, Sam, Phillip and many dear cousins and friends.
Left to cherish her memory are nieces Carleen (Andy) Gilmore, Diane (Dan)Peterson, Linda (Mike-deceased) Palmer, Leslie (Claudio) Pasian, and nephews Roger (Janet) Lucas, Mike (Sue) Lucas, James Lucas and Michael Malek, special sister-in-law Mary (Harry-deceased) White and 3 generations of great nieces and nephews along with special friends, Debbie Vunovich, Glenda VanNess and Joan Boyd.
Mary’s wishes were no service and cremation. Interment will be next to Nolan at Resurrection Catholic Cemetery, Lenexa, KS.
Memorial gifts can be made to Ledger Restoration Fund/Malek Bakery, Cawker City Hesperian Historical Society, P.O. Box 235, Cawker City, KS 67430.
Within the Malek family, a birthday is special. Valentine Malek, the patriarch of the Malek family was born on February 8, 1875. Eddie Malek (Carl Malek’s son) was born on February 8, 1941, Eddie’s daughter Dr. Calista Malek Miller was born on February 8, 1982 and Terry Malek’s (Eddie’s son) granddaughter, Emersyn Vaughn was born on February 8, 2018.