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Mary Lawder

In Loving Memory


MARY JOAN LAWDER, Oct. 20, 1930 – June 20, 2023

Joan Lawder, a mother, friend, advocate and champion to all she encountered, died peacefully on June 20 at 92 after a brief illness, capping a long, happy, productive and impactful life.

Joan enters Heaven with a long list of achievements, but she is best remembered as a loving, nurturing soul who raised eight children in a boisterous household — often filled with neighborhood kids — giving them all the freedom and inspiration to pursue their dreams.

When her own children were away at college or moving into adulthood, she took foster children into her warm, welcoming home. Affectionately known as “Granjo,” she extended this love to many grandchildren and great grandchildren, for whom she planned engaging activities, from cookie baking to poker lessons. Granjo’s house was always fun, and its visitors made to feel special.

Joan’s life is deeply intertwined with the Holly Hills neighborhood in South St. Louis, where she was born at home 1930 to the area’s developer, the late William Federer, and wife Marie  (nee Hoffmeier). She lived nearly her entire life in St. Stephen Protomartyr Catholic parish and devoted countless hours to its well-being.

A master orgnanizer, Joan raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years for St. Stephen’s, St. Louis University High School, Boy Scout Troop 104, and other groups developing a skill for running successful auctions, rummage sales and other innovative revenue schemes, such as selling Easter orchid corsages.

In 1949, as she pursued a literature degree at Webster College, she met the love of her life, Fortis M. “Mike” Lawder, who survives her. They married in 1953 and recently celebrated their 70th anniversary, surrounded by family and friends.

Joan is survived by children Michael Lawder, Margie (Kevin) Bittner, Mark (Janet) Lawder, Thomas Lawder (Meg Gardinier), Celeste (Rick) Furtner, David Lawder (Claudia McNamara), Joseph (Teresa) Lawder and Julie (John) O’Brien. These families have given Joan 31 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and counting, and she is survived by dozens of nieces and nephews.

She is preceded in the Afterlife by grandson Joey Lawder of St. Paul, Minn., and four siblings: Father William Federer, S.J., Natalie (Lester) Liebmann, Doris (Ernest) Potts, and Richard (Terry) Federer.

Visitation 4-8 p.m. on Friday, June 23 at Kutis Funeral Home Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois Road, 63123. Funeral Mass 10 a.m. Saturday, June 24 at St. Stephen Protomartyr, 3949 Wilmington Avenue, 63116, internment at Resurrection Cemetery

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Joan’s name to St. Stephen’s or to Birthright St. Louis


3 thoughts on “LAWDER, MARY JOAN”

  1. So sorry you have lost your mom, Tom. She must have been a force to reckon with. I would have loved to take part in the poker lessons 😊. She certainly has made her mark on the world.

  2. Very sorry for your loss, Tom.
    Sana and I extend our heartfelt condolences to you, Meg and the entire Lawder family. We hope you’ll find it a bit easier to get through this tough period by recalling the many good times you shared with your remarkable mother and by reminding yourself of how happy and proud you made her. We’re thinking of you, Tom.

  3. Dear Mike & Family, May I offer my prayers and most sincere sympathy on the passing of your wonderful wife and life companion. You are certainly blessed with an amazing family and a host of professional colleagues. I am proud to have shared with you the calling to the legal profession. In addition, most certainly, we have both shared an lifelong involvement in and support of traditional Boy Scouting. I fondly remember Scout events we have enjoyed together over the years. May God bless you and continue to support you and your family in the days ahead. Your friend in the law and brother in Scouting.. Tony Dill


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