Mary Agnes Alderman, 94, died peacefully, surrounded by family, on July 25, 2023, at Kansas City Hospice House. She was born on December 28, 1928, in Birmingham, Al., the first-born child of George T. Dunlap, Jr. and Isabel McGinn Dunlap. She spent the bulk of her childhood in Springfield, Mo., and was graduated from Saint de Chantal Academy of the Visitation at Elfindale in 1946 and Drury College in 1950, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta. She described her youth as active and joyful, lived out in a house full of eight siblings and their many friends. After college, Mary Agnes moved to Kansas City, Mo., to work as a sportswear buyer. There, she met J. Donald Alderman. They were married in 1958. In 1960, the couple moved, along with their first child, Sarah (Sally), to a house in Brookside that would remain her home for thirty-seven years. Mary Agnes and Don raised five children there: Sally, Donnie, Jim, Ann and Joan. The home’s third floor was also a temporary home for multiple family members and friends over the years. It was a full, lively and often chaotic atmosphere as five children separated by only six years made their way to school, piano lessons and sports practices. Amid the confusion, there were a few constants: the kitchen was full of Mary Agnes’ cooking and the pew was full of Alderman children for Sunday Mass. The block was also full of neighborhood children who enjoyed play late into the evening, and its front porches were often the site of impromptu cocktail parties as Mary Agnes forged life-long friendships among long-time neighbors. Holidays brought large gatherings during which the house was again full of siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins.
While her energies were devoted to raising her family, Mary Agnes also taught for more than forty years in the Kansas City, Mo., public schools, at St. Agnes in Roeland Park, Ks. and at St. Therese in Parkville, Mo. She volunteered locally, was an integral part of the group that worked to establish an Irish Center in Kansas City, and her food was a reliable comfort to the sick and bereaved among her neighbors, friends and parishioners. She was a decades-long member of Visitation Church. Possessed of a quick and agile mind, a broad vocabulary and flawless grammar, Mary Agnes was an independent thinker quick to share her opinion on virtually any subject with virtually anyone, and she rarely couched her position. At a time when many women may have been hesitating or deferential, she was anything but. Instead, she freely expressed a seemingly boundless confidence, a strong will and an indefatigable determination. She loved to sing along with and dance to the great standards of her youth and did not shy from the spotlight. Above all, Mary Agnes enjoyed her family. She told countless stories of the exploits of her siblings, her husband and their children and the large extended Dunlap and Alderman clans. She looked forward to the increasingly rare opportunities to spend time with her siblings and sought every chance to visit with her many grandchildren, whom she loved equally and unconditionally.
Mary Agnes was preceded in death by her parents; her brothers George, James, Francis, Michael, Robert and Patrick; sisters Isabel Weston and Sarah Gehring and husband Donald. She is survived by her five children, Sally Alderman (Paul Holleb), Donnie Alderman (Jill), Jim Alderman (Dana Linville), Ann Gassman (Allen), Joanie Alderman (Marty Wall) and twelve grandchildren. The family will receive visitors at Visitation Church, 5141 Main St., Kansas City, on Monday, July 31 at 4:30 pm. Mass will follow at 6:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Kansas City Hospice Foundation or the Colleen Alderman scholarship fund at Kansas City University School of Medicine and Biosciences, 1750 Independence Ave., Kansas City, Mo., 64106