Mary Helen (Becker) Tannehill

Mary Helen (Becker) Tannehill of La Porte, Indiana, passed away on May 20th, 2023, in the city of La Porte. Mary was born in 1927, to Henry and Christina (Fitting) Becker, who predeceased her.


Mary attended elementary and high school in San Pierre, Indiana. Throughout high school, she studied and played piano, clarinet, and oboe, teaching herself to play boogie-woogie on the church organ as her disapproving mother arranged wildflowers on the altar. After graduating high school, Mary received a diploma from Indiana Business College in Lafayette, Indiana, where she later worked for Kuhne-Simmons Construction Company, housing contractors for Purdue University after WWII. She then worked for Charles D. Kawin Company in Chicago, and upon returning to Indiana was employed by International Harvester in Medaryville. 


During her marriage and years of childrearing that followed the piano was a constant fixture in her home, and she continued to play and sing for her own and her family’s enjoyment. She was later employed at La Porte Savings Bank before moving to Lake Placid, Florida, where she reclaimed her musical passion as the organist and music director for St. James Catholic Church. Upon returning to La Porte in 2002, she continued her musical career as organist for many churches in the Michigan City-La Porte area, but chiefly at her parish of St. Joseph Catholic Church.


Mary was a past member of the disbanded Catholic Sorority, Pi Epsilon Kappa and a past member of Lake Placid Elks B.P.O.E. 2661 and of Michigan City Elks B.P.O.E. 432.


Mary is survived by a daughter, Sarah Tannehill of San Francisco; sons, Mark (Jary) Tannehill of Michigan City, and William (Proaw) Kellems of Mishawaka, Indiana. Surviving grandchildren include Mahon McGrath and Sean (Natalie) McGrath of San Francisco, Jacob (Monica) Tannehill of New Buffalo, Eric (Heather) Tannehill of Michigan City, and granddaughter Corianne Kellems of Spokane, Washington; great grandchildren are Connor Tannehill, Hannah Mary Tannehill, and Martin Jacob Tannehill, all of New Buffalo, and Miles McGrath of San Francisco; nieces and nephews include James (Joan) Becker of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Mary Anne (Tom) Blocher of Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, Linda (Dave) Allen of Boene, Texas, Carol (Vern) Keller of Manteno, Illinois, and James (Sharon) Kneisler of Tuscola, Illinois. Mary is predeceased by husband, John Tannehill, Sr., son, John Robert Tannehill, Jr., Jack Kellems, Sr., and infant grandson, Jack Kellems, Jr., brother and sisters, James (Mary) Becker, Jean (Ron) Kennedy, and Catherine (Roy) Kneisler.


Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home, Essling Chapel is handling arrangements.


Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Friday, May 26th, 2023, at Holy Family Parish, St. Joseph Catholic Church, 109 C. Street in La Porte, Indiana.  


A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. following the visitation at Holy Family Parish, St. Joseph Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children, 2211 North Oak Park Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60707; Soup Kitchen, 121 E. 7 th Street, Michigan City, Indiana 46360; or Holy Family Parish, St. Joseph Catholic Church, 109 C Street, La Porte, Indiana 46350.


To light a candle, share a story of Mary’s life, or leave a message of comfort for her family, please visit

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