Mary Jo Dell Christy passed away on November 13, 2020, in Dallas, Oregon, shortly after her 92nd birthday. She was born October 1, 1928, in McPherson, Kansas, to Samuel Milton and Miriam Wenrick Dell. She was the middle of three children. Mary Jo met her husband, Melvin (Mel) Christy, in 1946 at the Church of the Brethren Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa. They were married May 28, 1948, in McPherson, Kansas. Following graduation from McPherson College in 1950, Mary Jo and Mel served with Brethren Volunteer Service in Puerto Rico before returning to McPherson to start a family. They have three daughters: Vicky van Santen, Lori Christy, and Trudy McKinnell. In 1965 she left Kansas and has since lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Marshalltown, Iowa; Salem, Oregon; and Dallas, Oregon. Mary Jo had a career as church secretary in three churches in three states for a total of thirty years. Mary Jo was also busy volunteering in many ways throughout her life, from block captain in fund raising campaigns, teaching vacation Bible school, serving as President of the Hospital Auxiliary and Spanish language interpreter at the hospital in Marshalltown, Iowa, to volunteering at the Elsinore Theater in Salem, Oregon. She used her Spanish language abilities not only here in the states but also during medical mission trips to Honduras and Peru and volunteering in a Pediatrics Department in Heredia, Costa Rica. If it needed done and helped others, Mary Jo was there. Mary Jo had a wide range of interests including singing in the choir, sewing, knitting, cookie baking, Christmas candy making, golfing, bicycling, and traveling. She and Mel especially enjoyed traveling. Highlights included touring Germany on their tandem bicycle with friends, visiting Mexico, The Bahamas, Hawaii, several locations in Europe, Banff, Canada and spending ten winters in Costa Rica.
Mary Jo has contributed to not only her family’s lives, but to the lives of countless others across the country and around the world. She will be remembered as a loving, vibrant, joyful, positive, active and engaged, strong woman. She will be greatly missed.
Mary Jo was preceded in death by her husband Mel in 2018 after nearly 70 years of marriage. Earlier this year she was also preceded in death by both her siblings, Robert W. Dell and Leona Ikenberry. She leaves behind three daughters: Vicky van Santen, and her husband Edzard, of Auburn, Alabama; Lori Christy of Salem, Oregon; and Trudy McKinnell and her husband James of Salem, Oregon; six grandchildren: Christina Hierath and her husband Tilman of Berlin, Germany; Jakob van Santen and his wife Anna of Berlin, Germany; Katharina van Santen and her husband Matthew Robinson, of Atlanta, Georgia; Kelsey Preuit and her husband August of Albany, Oregon, Kathryn McKinnell of Elkhart, Indiana, and Skye McKinnell of Cassopolis, Michigan; and six great-grandchildren: Carl, Conrad, and Constantin Hierath; Peter and Paul van Santen; and Felix Robinson.
Memorial gifts can be sent to Dallas Retirement Foundation, 377 Jasper St, Dallas OR 97338, or made online at Dallasretirementvillage.com/foundation/.
Guest Book Entries
I was in the choir at First Presbyterian Church with Mary Jo and Mel. There were not only inspirational in their many interests and activities but truly fun to be around. I wish you love and comfort. Maggie