Mary Ann was born in 1928.
Her mother Laura Hollmer and father Harrison Sturges farmed in Minnesota. In her
early years she knew poverty and hunger, but she was driven by a curiosity to
know the world and learn. This drive launched her at fourteen to pack up
her few things, get on a bus and move to Chicago where she put herself through
high school attending and paying her own tuition at The Academy of Our Lady.
She earned her high school diploma working late nights to pay her way. Her
early years shaped her worldview and Mary Annís compassion and care for others
along with her strong faith were an inspiration to others.
You canít think about Mary
Ann without thinking about Ralph, her husband of 55 years. Although he
died on September 28 in 2005, he lived always in her heart and soul. Their first
date was a disaster. Ralphís car broke down and he was late to the point where
the second date almost didnít happen until she got a letter with his heartfelt
apologies and Mary Ann knew he was the one.
Ralph and Mary Ann were
married on December 26, 1949. in Bemidji, Minnesota. Their daughter
Elizabeth joined them in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The family next moved to
Knoxville, Iowa where Ralph worked for the Veteranís Administration and their
youngest daughter, Ann, was born. After a trip to the Black Hill in South
Dakota, Ralph was hired by the VA at Fort Meade. Ralph, Mary Ann and their
daughters traveled the United States and the Black Hills, becoming experienced
campers and hikers. In later years, Ralph and Mary Ann were avid
Volksmarchers logging many miles throughout the United States, coming only two
states short of their goal to Volksmarch in all 50 states.
Mary Ann remained a proponent of Volksmarching, raising interest every
chance she got and converting many to the sport.
Although she could not
continue her education, Mary Ann was a pivotal influence on her daughters who
were encouraged to go to college and pursue higher education. Elizabeth
was a food scientist who eventually earned an MBA. Ann finished college
with two majors and two minors and earned a Ph.D. in Economics. Education
launched Mary Ann on her life adventure and her encouragement and support
launched her daughters.
Mary Ann moved to Lincoln,
Nebraska after many years in Sturgis, South Dakota to be closer to her daughter,
Elizabeth (Betsy) Howe, whose strength and support helped the transition to a
new chapter in her life. Mary Ann will be missed by her brother, Bill
Sturges of Woodstock, Minnesota, her sisters Sally Sturges of Sioux City, Iowa,
and Virginia Asbury of Wichita Falls, Texas. She is preceded in death by
her husband Ralph and her sisters, Millie Pistuka, Springfield, Minnesota, Suzie
Sturges Lincoln, Nebraska, and her brother Tom Sturges, Carson City, Nevada.
Mary Ann spent time with the son and daughter-in-law of her sister Suzie, Bob
and Lisa Sturges, who helped make Lincoln, Nebraska home.
Mary Ann is survived by
daughter Elizabeth Howe and her children and grandchildren: Lara Wooley of
Centennial, Colorado, and children Terrell and Taye; Alan Gertonson of Amarillo,
Texas, his wife Jennifer, and their children Chance & Sarah Daily, Alec Nichols,
Aaron and Ashley Gertonson; Rob Howe of Aurora, Colorado; Amanda Howe of Arvada,
Colorado; Berni Kappel of Manhattan, Kansas, and children Bailey, Jacob and
Katelyn; Karoline Neill and her husband James of Sturgis, South Dakota, and
children Brody, Kiran, Maira ,Cole and Aivln: Amanda
(Gerty) Wyatt and her husband Jared of Grant, Nebraska, and children Ana, Aiden,
and Karlie; and Dr. Peter Gertonson and his wife Katie of Honolulu, Hawaii and
their son, Karl. Mary Ann is also survived by her youngest daughter, Ann Hackert
of Pocatello Idaho, her husband, Hal Hellwig and grandchildren Ben and David.
As per Mary Ann's wishes,
she will have services both for her friends in Lincoln and in Sturgis. Her
Celebration of Life in Lincoln, Nebraska is on April 8 at 10am at Butherus,
Maser and Love Funeral Home, 40th & A. Her long-time life in
Sturgis will be memorialized with a wake at 7 p.m. on May 24 at Kincaid Funeral
Home and a Mass at 10am on Friday May 26 at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic
Church with interment to follow in the Black Hills National Cemetery with her
Per Mary Annís request, in lieu of flowers,
please send donations to the Mary Ann Hackert Memorial Fund, to be divided among
the five charities she selected.