Marie Ester (Steinmetz) Brownlee passed away on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 at the Apostolic Christian Home in Sabetha, Kansas at the age of 94. She was born on April 8, 1926 in Hardin, Montana to Emanual Steinmetz and Elizabeth (Michael) Steinmetz. Her family was of Volga German descent, having immigrated to the United States from Dietel, Russia. Marie spent her early years in Hardin and later moved with her family to Toppenish, Washington.
Around the age of 12, Marie met her lifelong sweetheart and future husband, Harry C. Brownlee. They were married by a Justice of the Peace on September 26, 1944 at a gas station in Granger, Washington, for 39 cents. They lived in the Toppenish/Wapato area of Eastern Washington for several years before moving to South Prairie, Washington. They later purchased a home in Buckley.
Marie worked for the Rainier School for the Disabled for nearly 30 years. Following her retirement, Marie and Harry returned to the Yakima Valley, where they settled in Sunnyside and devoted themselves to spending time with family. They continued to pursue their many hobbies and interests, including gardening and square dancing. They joined the Alfalfa and Buena Grange halls and took many camping trips to the beach and the mountains.
Marie was an excellent cook, baker and canner. At the conclusion of every Sunday lunch, Harry would lovingly say, “That was delicious, Maryline. You can stay another week.” She was known for her peanut brittle and lemon meringue pie, holiday cookie trays, homemade jams, pickles, and sauerkraut.
The hardships of Marie’s early life inspired in her a need to create and be surrounded by beauty. She was a gifted gardener and spent many joy-filled hours tending her plants. She especially loved peonies, iris, and tulips. She learned to crochet as a young girl and throughout her life produced many beautiful and useful handmade objects for loved ones and strangers. Late in her life, she was particularly known for the brightly-colored “scrubbies” she made and sold around town. Despite having left school in the 8th grade, she had a keen mind for business when it came to her craftwork. Marie knew a person could never have enough plants or yarn.
When Harry passed away in 2003, Marie relocated to Sabetha, Kansas to remain near her family. At the age of 80, she embraced, and was welcomed by, a new community. She joined the Berwick Home Extension Unit and the Sabetha Hospital Guild. Marie lived the last decade of her life at the Apostolic Christian Home, where she continued her tradition of making and sharing sweet treats and handmade items with neighbors and friends.
She was preceded in death by her husband; parents; brother, Edward Steinmetz; sister, Jean Price Smith, and infant brother, Emanuel Steinmetz.
Marie is survived by her son, Gary L. Brownlee and his wife, Norma of Sabetha, Kansas; her grandson, Scott Brownlee (Lisa) of Fairview, Kansas; her granddaughters, Michelle Brownlee (Joel) of Kansas City, Missouri and Faith Smeenk (Chris) of Richland, Washington; her great-grandchildren, Brandon and Kamden Brownlee, Cody, Clayton and Ryan Smeenk, Martin (Melissa) and Michael (Lenora) Villa, Mikaila Goerig, and Sawyer Villa; and her brother, Donald Steinmetz (Linnea) of Buckley, Washington.
A private memorial service will be held in Sabetha, Kansas later this spring. Inurnment with be at the Sabetha Cemetery. The family wishes to thank the staff at the Apostolic Christian Home who provided Marie with such kind and loving care.
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