Cover photo for Mary B. Hendriksma's Obituary
Mary B. Hendriksma Profile Photo
1924 Mary Miller (Brubaker) Hendriksma 2024

Mary B. Hendriksma

March 22, 1924 — March 8, 2024

Harrisburg, PA

Mary Miller (Brubaker) Hendriksma, two weeks shy of 100 years old, died peacefully in her sleep at home in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, on Friday, March 8, 2024.

Mary was born on Saturday, March 22, 1924, in Altoona, Blair County, PA, the same year that George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue first graced concert halls. She was the daughter of the late Emma (Emmy) Jane Miller Brubaker and the late Abram Oberholtzer Brubaker. She grew up in Montoursville near Williamsport.

Preceding her in death in 2019 was her husband, Hessel Berend Hendriksma, to whom she was married for 61-and-a-half years.

She was preceded in death by one sister, Ruth Brubaker Davis (who by coincidence passed on the same date nine years prior), and her brother-in-law, Harold K. Davis.

Mary is survived by one daughter, Hylda Hendriksma, and son-in-law, Walter Hendriksma, and her grandson, Danny Hendriksma. Also surviving her are her two nieces, Donna (Davis) Marzolf and Patty (Patricia Davis) Beardsley, and nephew, Tom (Thomas) Davis and their spouses.

Mary was a seventh-generation, direct descendant of immigrant ancestor Hans Pupather (Brubaker), who was indicated often as the A-line of the Brubaker family, having settled in 1717 in what is now East Hempfield Township, Lancaster County.

Her father, Abram, was a deacon of the congregation at Fox Hollow Brethren in Christ Church, where her mother Emma sang and taught Sunday School. Her father was a son of Amanda Lehman Oberholtzer and Daniel B. Brubaker, who farmed near Elizabethtown and attended Mount Pleasant Brethren in Christ Church in Lancaster County. Her mother’s family had settled generations before in Bedford County, PA. As she grew up, the family traveled from Montoursville in a Model-T Ford over unpaved roads and early Pennsylvania highways to visit family in both Bedford and Lancaster Counties. Those were important events in her early life.

She was a graduate of the former Messiah Academy and Junior College in Grantham, Cumberland County. During Mary’s second year of high school, her parents traveled from Montoursville to Grantham for her baptism on campus in the Yellow Bridges Creek, and she became a member of the Grantham Brethren in Christ Church. She lived in Old Main on the third floor during her time at Academy. When her younger sister, Ruth, joined her there, their parents moved to Grantham; both girls moved in with them. She worked during college as a secretary for Asa Climenhaga and followed Latin classes from his wife, Anna. Asa is well-known as a historian of the Brethren in Christ Church and left a legacy to Messiah College, and Mary remained lifelong friends with the Climenhagas.

Mary received her bachelor’s degree from Elizabethtown College and her master’s in education from Temple University in Philadelphia. She attended the American Academy in Rome, Italy, and pursued a teaching career of twenty years at New Cumberland High School (before Cedar Cliff High School was built). She was very active with student activities and developed a passion for teaching Latin.

She met her husband, Hessel, while on a tour of Europe in 1949 with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and an alumni group from Messiah. Hessel was from the Netherlands, and with his family being a part of the Dutch Mennonite Church, they hosted Mary and another traveler in their home. He was eager to hear from Mary about life in the US, and love sparked as their long conversations developed into a lasting relationship. Two of his uncles had lived in the US for many years, inspiring him to do the same. After he immigrated to the US and married Mary, they enjoyed many travels together to Europe, and particularly to family in the Netherlands.

After having taken care of her daughter from infancy until entering public school, she returned to teaching Latin at the high school level—first at Trinity, then at East Pennsboro. She then spent fifteen years at Middletown Area High School until her retirement in 1989. Her students accompanied her to explore Italy, sometimes filling a touring bus. Parents, family, and friends were always welcome to join in such adventures. Wherever she went, she was often recognized by former students and enjoyed catching up on their news.

Many have remarked about Mary’s wit and wonderful memory in conversation. Like her husband, a healthy curiosity fed her energetic drive to pursue knowledge. Both she and Hessel endowed their daughter with a thirst for knowledge and education, and the family frequented museums, art galleries, historic locations, and classical concerts. As a mother, she took her daughter to violin lessons and symphony rehearsals, waiting patiently while correcting her students’ schoolwork and tests. Above all, she and her husband were exceptionally loving parents and grandparents. Together, they formed a very close-knit family, always having each other’s back.

She was fond of flowers and nature, an avid reader, and loved conversing through the night until early morning. She enjoyed family reunions, dinners out, and picnics with her family. She loved to relax to the simple pendulum motion on a swing in a playground. She shared in these favorite pastimes with her daughter and grandson.

She and Hessel enjoyed beautiful concerts at Market Square Presbyterian Church on the square in Harrisburg, which led to the family joining the church; in addition, she always maintained her membership with the Grantham Brethren in Christ Church. After retirement, she became active with the Presbyterian Women and enjoyed that fellowship and their Bible study.

A firm Christian believer, she was remarkably openminded in discussions with people from all walks of life. Her son-in-law often said if she did not arrive on time for dinner from a day out shopping and visiting museums in any European city, that we should not worry. Even if she happened to be in a less desirable part of town, she would have endeared anyone with whom she came in contact, and perhaps, even converted them to believers. She certainly was a Godly woman, very special, and always kind.

She enjoyed travel in the US, Canada, and Europe, but regardless of destination, visiting with family was paramount. Dutifully, she kept records for decades as family historian for her parents’ families and their descendants. Her endeavors in this were published for a second time in 2009 in a Brubaker-Oberholtzer genealogy of her father’s family. Working with her cousins, this was a project she thoroughly enjoyed. Her daughter, Hylda, has since taken the baton, and is concluding a comprehensive history of the same family, full of personal stories and photos. It stretches back to include the generations of the Brubakers and Oberholtzers in Europe, as well as the many families they have married with, such as Lehman, Engel, Longenecker and Hoover. Mary enjoyed sharing tales about her childhood memories and family history to enrich the family’s documentation of their heritage. She mastered the use of email and FaceTime at an advanced age, allowing her to stay connected and informed.

Mary and Hessel enjoyed some decades of living in a beautiful, wooded area, enjoying nature and the change of seasons before settling in a more practical area where larch, walnut and spruce provided a haven for the wildlife they enjoyed watching. In 2011, they managed to escape a home fire. A manager with a big heart at Essex House, Lemoyne, offered them temporary housing. While there, the three-course meals (created by a former Hotel Hershey chef), spoiled them thoroughly, and they enjoyed the company of many seniors their age.

After almost a year of renovation, lovingly detailed by their daughter Hylda and son-in-law Walter, they returned to their own home to enjoy their independence, which they so strongly desired. Neither they nor anyone else expected that enjoying that house with new things like newlyweds would extend to their last days.

Mary’s first cousins, David and Laona Brubaker and Martha (Brubaker) and Charlie Starr, as well as her nieces Donna and Patty, often helped them as they faced challenges of aging. The family is grateful to Homeland Home Care of Harrisburg for providing outstanding in-home care with loving caregivers for years. Mary and Hessel both were blessed in their last years with their deacon, Peggy Jo (PJ) Taylor, who faithfully visited and broke bread with them.

Hessel was with Mary at home until his death in 2019 at age 96. In the last period of Mary’s life, faithful visits from loved ones brightened her days. That included a friendship with the pastor, who will officiate at her funeral, and her deacon.

Blessed with exceedingly good health her whole life until recently, and a detailed, clear memory, Mary was truly an amazing (almost) centenarian. We will celebrate her life on Monday, March 18th, 2024.

A visitation will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 18th, at Parthemore Funeral Home, 1303 Bridge St., New Cumberland, PA, with a funeral service following at 2 p.m. at the funeral home. Rev. Anne M. Ross of Market Square Presbyterian Church, Harrisburg, PA, will officiate.

Upon conclusion of the service, Mary’s burial will take place in Grantham Memorial Park, 550 Grantham Rd., Mechanicsburg, PA, where Hessel and Mary’s last resting place offers a view of Old Main at Messiah University.

A donation in Mary’s memory to the flower fund at Market Square Presbyterian Church, 20 S. 2nd St. Harrisburg, PA 17101-2040 would be greatly appreciated.

Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life:
He who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live,
and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.

John 11:25, 26

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, March 18, 2024

1:30 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Parthemore Funeral Home & Cremation Services

1303 Bridge Street, New Cumberland, PA 17070

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Monday, March 18, 2024

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Parthemore Funeral Home & Cremation Services

1303 Bridge Street, New Cumberland, PA 17070

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Monday, March 18, 2024

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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