Cover photo for Mary Etta Varner's Obituary
1942 Mary 2023

Mary Etta Varner

November 4, 1942 — May 22, 2023

Niles, Michigan

Mary Varner, co-founder and owner of local garden center Varner’s Greenhouse & Nursery, of Niles, Michigan, passed away after an extended hospital stay. Mary was born and raised in Niles, Michigan, and taught English at Brandywine Public Schools for almost 30 years, starting in the early 1960s.  She married the love of her life, Jack Varner, in 1967.  Not long after, Mary and Jack pursued farming and eventually developed their greenhouse and garden center business. The story goes that it was Mary who suggested they build their first greenhouse. She was an extremely hard worker dedicated to the people she loved and the pursuits they were passionate about. Mary was also a deeply loyal person with a generous soul. Over the years she was very active in local United Methodist churches, volunteering many hours of time there. For the people she loved the most, she was completely selfless, sacrificing her own interests, time and even well-being to support them. Mary was tough as nails and a warrior against the debilitating effects of Multiple Sclerosis which she fought for almost 50 years, but never let it define her. The absolute joys of her life for the last ten years are her grandchildren, Nathalie and Jack Jack. Words simply cannot express how much Mary is loved and how much she will be missed. She is survived by her daughter, Carla Varner (Sebastien Sacre); her stepchildren, Jerry Varner (Sheila Duncan Varner), Deborah Dressel (Rick Dressel), Cindi Watson (Dudley Watson), David Varner (Candi Varner), and Jason Varner; her grandchildren, Nathalie Sacre and Jacques (“Jack”) Sacre; her step- grandchildren and great grandchildren; her nieces and nephews; and numerous caregivers and employees who are like family.  She was preceded in death by her husband of 52 years, Jack Varner; her parents, Marvin and Melba Clark; her siblings, Dale Clark, Jo Ellen Clark and Waneta Gitchell; and her niece, Linda Apple.  The family would like to extend special thanks to the many doctors who provided Mary’s medical care over the past ten years, both in Michiana and Chicago, Illinois.  Viewing will take place on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. (Eastern Time) at Halbritter Wickens Funeral Services, 615 E Main Street, Niles, Michigan, and funeral services will take place on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. (Eastern) at Smith’s Chapel, 29858 Redfield Road, Niles, Michigan.  Donations in Mary’s memory can be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: .

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

5:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Starts at 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

Smith's Chapel Cemetery

29858 Redfield St, Niles, MI 49120

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