Mary K. Maisel
Mary K. Maisel, 85, of Portage IN, died Aug. 6, 2008.
Her daughter, Kathy Winkle, wrote this tribute:
We first knew her as a sister of a fallen comrade.
In 1990, she gave members of the 99th Infantry Division Association’s MIA Project Search Team as much information as she could about her brother, Pfc. Saul Kokotovich, C/395, hoping they could find his “temporary” shallow grave. He had been missing near the Belgian-German border since 1944.
In 1994, accompanied by her daughter, Kathy Winkle, she attended her first 99th convention in Indianapolis. Her next reunion would not be until seven years later in Fort Mitchell KY, where she went to personally thank the men from Belgium (the Diggers) who finally found her brother Saul. Two weeks earlier, she received the earth-shattering phone call from Vern Swanson that her brother had been found on April 17, 2001.
Vern couldn’t wait for the Army to notify her since the news was already being broadcast in Europe. He didn’t want Mary K. to hear the news secondhand.
The 99th became family to Mary K. from that day on. She began traveling to every annual convention and made two trips to Belgium.
Her most recent trip was to the Virgin Islands for her granddaughter’s wedding. Two months later she complained of chest pains and died three weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
Bill Zimmerman beautifully expressed his memories of her this way, “Mary’s enthusiasm, charm and warmth immediately placed her in a special place in our hearts and had she not been a part of the group, we all would have been spiritually poorer. I can still see the picture of her in my mind, as she walked over the forest area, ground we all hallow, inspecting 60 years of history and reliving memories as if they were new.” Bill is the brother of 99th Infantry Division Sgt. Frederick Zimmerman, also recovered in April 2001, by the Diggers.