Maryjo Allen, 86, of Honor, Michigan and Sun City Center, Florida, died on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, at the Lifepath Hospice Home in Ruskin, Florida.
Maryjo was born on July 11, 1934, in Coldwater, Michigan, to Weir and Wilma (Hill) Hyland. She was raised in Coldwater and graduated from Coldwater High School in 1952. She served as the Art Editor for the Cardinal yearbook and played girls sports, which were limited to the Girls Athletic Association at the time, and was a major supporter of both Coldwater Cardinal and Michigan State University athletics, which continued throughout her life. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Michigan State University in 1956, and married her high school sweetheart, Daryl Eugene Allen, on August 5th of that same year. That fall she began her work as an art teacher at Coldwater High School, taught art for a short time for the Harper Creek school system, and spent the majority of her 30 year art education career at Legg Junior High School (which later became Legg Middle School) in Coldwater. She was passionate about assisting her students to not only refine their technical skills in art and hand-craft work, but to also draw upon their natural creativity and to further develop their creative thinking abilities. Upon her retirement from teaching in 1996, she continued to pursue her passion by judging (and instructing) the artistic endeavors of young people at the Branch County 4-H Fair, designed the logo (which is currently in use on their website) for the centennial celebration of the First Presbyterian Church in Coldwater, and also led the redesign work for the narthex there when the sanctuary was redone. In her later years she studied ceramics and watercolor painting in-depth, having created many pieces of her own, several of which earned awards in juried shows in Florida and northern Michigan.
She was a lifelong member of the First Presbyterian Church in Coldwater, and later of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Beulah, Michigan, and as a member there was very committed to her volunteer work for Benzie Area Christian Neighbors (BACN). She was also a member, with her husband Daryl, of the Coldwater Elks Lodge, was a devoted Branch County 4-H parent and grandparent, working with and raising both horses and goats for many years. Additionally she was a member of the Audubon Society, as she was an avid birdwatcher. Her love of birds and wildlife, trees and the environment was lifelong, as was her enjoyment of working in her perennial garden, antiquing, and travel, which she had the opportunity to do much more of in her later years with her partner and husband Richard Ritter, whom she married on February 3, 2020.
Maryjo is survived by her children Lisa Lynn (Phillip) Warner, Tanis Jo (Stephen Rosoff) Allen, and Craig Eugene (Maria Morales) Allen, her brother Terry Lee Hyland, grandchildren Lindsey Jo (Travis Estlow) Warner, Katlyn Ann (Christopher) Walker, Curtis Allen (Devonnie) Warner, Ty Phillip Warner, Ian Samuel and Caroline Allen Rosoff, and Cole Jacob Allen, along with great-granddaughters Izabellah Grace and Honor Jolynn Walker, and Harper Jo Warner. She is also survived by her husband Richard Ritter, and his children Christina Krausbauer, Telka (David) Arend-Ritter, and Brad Ritter. Maryjo was preceded in death by her husband Daryl, her parents Wilma Grace and Weir G. Hyland, her sister Nancy Lou Burtch, and her brother Thomas Spencer Hyland.
A funeral service for Maryjo will be held on Friday, February 26, 2021, at 3:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Coldwater with Pastor Susan Reichenberg officiating. Visitation will occur just prior to the service at the church beginning at 2 p.m. Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, will help to establish the Maryjo Allen Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Art at Coldwater High School, and will be received by Dutcher Funeral Home in Coldwater, to whom funeral arrangements have been entrusted.