Mary Elizabeth Lietzen

Mary Elizabeth Lietzen passed away peacefully surrounded by her family Dec. 13, 2020. She was the oldest daughter of Louis and Mary VanderStaay. Mary was given the nickname “Betty” by her mother because they shared the same first name. Mary lived most of her childhood and young adult life believing her birthdate was Aug. 25, 1930, because her mother told her she was born at home on that date. The doctor didn’t file the birth certificate until Aug. 26, 1930, which became her official birthdate. Mary declared until the end of her life that her birthdate was Aug. 25, 1930.

Mary attended St. Mary Academy, graduating in 1948. She obtained her nursing degree from Providence in 1952. Mary had an extensive nursing career, working at the Leavenworth VA, Saint John Hospital and Cushing Hospital. She retired from Cushing Hospital in 1995. She found great joy and pride in taking care of her patients. She loved her Cushing family, reminiscing often about how much she missed seeing them. One of the burning questions she pondered is who ended up with the bloomers.

While working at the VA, Mary met a man who lit her world on fire, or at the least the newspaper she was reading at the time. Mary married Max Lietzen on May 1, 1965. Prior to her marriage to Max, Mary had given birth to one daughter, Monica L. VanderStaay, on Aug. 7, 1958. During her marriage to Max, Mary gave birth to two sons, Louis Lietzen, born Feb. 20, 1967, and Edwin Lietzen, born Jan. 29, 1968. Max preceded Mary in death on Jan. 10, 1986.

After retirement, Mary became interested in genealogy and spent hours researching family history. She also enjoyed crocheting and quilting, which she learned from her mother. Several of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were the benefactors of quilts she designed and put together. As her health deteriorated, Mary enjoyed watching the old westerns on TV and Royals baseball.  

Mary is survived by one brother, Eugene (Clara) VanderStaay, Leavenworth, Kansas, and one sister, Roseann VanderStaay, Leavenworth, Kansas. Also surviving are her children: Monica L. Sparks (Paul), Kansas City, Kansas; Louis Lietzen, Leavenworth, Kansas; and Edwin (Debbie) Lietzen, Leavenworth, Kansas, her grandchildren: Melissa Lyon, Kansas City, Kansas; Charles H. Lyon, III (Bridgit), Kansas City, Missouri; Matt Lietzen, Leavenworth, Kansas; Mariah Lietzen, Leavenworth, Kansas; Arianna Lietzen, Berryville, Arkansas; Melissa Kania, Berryville, Arkansas; Elisha (Jayme) Rhoades, Leavenworth, Kansas; and Brett (Frances) Wernick, Orlando, Florida; plus 15 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers, Louis VanderStaay, Jr. and Charles VanderStaay, her husband and one grandson, Ernest Walter Lietzen.  

Visitation will be at Davis Funeral Chapel, 531 Shawnee St., Leavenworth, Kansas, on Dec. 22, 2020, between noon and 2 p.m. Funeral services will be conducted by Father Glen Snow, St. Joseph Parish, immediately following the visitation at the funeral home. Burial for Max and Mary Lietzen will occur on Dec. 28, 2020, at Leavenworth National Cemetery, Leavenworth, Kansas, at 1:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Leavenworth County Council on Aging. Condolences may be left on Mary’s online guestbook at

Published on December 18, 2020