Our beloved Mary Ellen Summers, also known as Granny Grub and The Great, passed away in Kansas City, Missouri on March 1, 2023 after 94 years of a rich and well-lived life. She was many things, including an extraordinary sister, wife, friend, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great, great grandmother.
Mary was born in Osceola, Missouri to Samuel G. and Opal V. Humphreys. At around 15 years old she moved to Kansas City, Missouri and spent many years working as a waitress at various restaurants in the area. Her hard-working spirit, warmth, and approachability made her a natural fit for that line of work and in 1950 that was how she came to meet her future husband, William R. Summers. The two married on July 13, 1951 and had two children together: Ric and Susan. After marrying, Mary met William’s children from previous marriages and formed deep relationships with all of them that lasted her entire life.
The family settled in Lee’s Summit, Missouri in 1957 and Mary took up factory work at Western Electric and AT&T in order to better provide for her family. After 34 years with AT&T she retired, but given her innate drive and zest for life, she never stopped working at, for, and towards all that she loved.
Anyone and everyone who knew The Great, for however long or however little, knew her genuine, selfless, and loving spirit. She was generous and giving beyond words and absolutely one of a kind. Her country roots shaped her spirit and personality through and through. Country music was undoubtedly her favorite and she always had a love for the land and animals, tending to them in various ways throughout the years. She raised countless chickens, helped her son care for his horses, kept all the barn and country cats fed, spoiled every family dog, planted hundreds (if not thousands) of tomatoes with her daughter, made sure the hummingbirds (aka hummers) always had fresh sugar water, and almost always tended a garden big or small.
While Mary worked hard her whole life, there was no shortage of good times. She had a real fondness for good tequila and margaritas and liked her Bud Light with a big dash of salt. In her later years, you could often find her gallivanting around to the local casinos and playing slots for entertainment with her dear friend, Mary Irene.
She was good natured and known for her playfulness and sense of humor. Always making jokes or making up silly songs, Mary had an undeniably positive disposition and would brighten (and lighten) every room she entered. She loved to travel and explore and often did, taking long road trips with various friends and family around the country including the time she embarked on a 6,000 mile journey with her sister Stella.
The Great was the ultimate caretaker and was deeply devoted to her family. She could often be found in the kitchen cooking delicious meals, helping with chores, feeding animals, pulling weeds (begrudgingly of course), watching after and helping to raise her grandchildren, and generously spreading her love and care to her family and everyone else in her orbit.
Perhaps her grandson Larry described Mary best when he said she was “a gift from god and force of nature.” She was a great connector within her family and the ultimate matriarch. Her legacy is one of strength, generosity, and love. Without a doubt the impact of her life will be felt for generations to come.
Mary The Great is survived by her two children Ric Summers and Susan Jemente, her brother Glen Humphreys, her sister Stella Moritz, and a multitude of other family members who will all miss her deeply and will continue to carry her vibrant spirit onward into the world.
A graveside service at Lee’s Summit Historical Cemetery will follow at 1 pm and is open to all to attend. Flowers are welcome as well as donations to any animal welfare or environmental organization in her honor. Please be sure to visit our memorial site for The Great Mary Ellen Summers and add any photos, stories, memories, and videos you might want to share for everyone to see: