Mary Louise McCreary, daughter of Russell Vance and Hazel Beatrice (Dugan) Hogue, was born at her grandmother Dugan’s in Mount Ayr, Iowa on June 1, 1922. Mary attended Liberty Township Side Hill Rural School north of Mount Ayr and graduated from Mount Ayr high school in 1940. She was then employed at the Ringgold County Extension office and the Selective Service office in Mount Ayr before marriage, after which she was a secretary of the Rural Electric Corporation for a short time. In later years she worked with her family at Carol’s Kitchen at the Mount Ayr Livestock Market.
She was married to Robert Keith McCreary on September 20, 1942. Two children were born to this union, Mary Kathryn McCreary in 1944 and James Alan McCreary in 1947. In November 2003 she moved from the family farm to an apartment in Mount Ayr where she resided until two weeks before her death. She died on November 6, 2010 at Mount Ayr Health Care Center as a result of a stroke on October 6.
Mary was a faithful member, supporter, attendee and worker of the Wishard Chapel United Methodist Church (Epworth League as a youth) and United Methodist Women from the time her family moved to a farm south of the church in Liberty township until her death. She was an active partner for 64 years in the McCreary Century family farm where Bob and Mary’s son, Jim and daughter-in-law Carol Anne, still live. Mary stayed very busy working in the home, garden, fields and the livestock. She kept meticulous records of livestock and crops in record books and a daily diary of family and friends’ activities, life events and weather. Mary maintained a complete library of all farm equipment manuals. She enjoyed her children’s activities in 4-H, church, Methodist Youth Fellowship and school. She was a 4-H leader and a member of the county committee.
Music was an important part of her life. She shared her beautiful soprano voice through church as one of the founding group in Rural Women’s Chorus, the Women’s Federated Choral Club and the Ringgold Singers. Mary sang her way through the daily work of a busy woman on the farm. Mary did not like sudden changes or going to the doctor, even when she knew it was necessary. She enjoyed sewing clothes for herself and her daughter. She created works of art in fine embroidery that became beloved gifts to several generations of her family. In later years Mary learned to knit and made many afghans, scarves, stocking caps and prayer squares.
Children in her neighborhood and family were always welcomed guests in her home. She enjoyed many happy lunches with the Classy Class of 1940 and good times with the new friends made during the last seven years she lived at Polk Villa apartments in Mount Ayr.
Mary was the keeper of family, Wishard Chapel history and events. If one needs to know a detail of family genealogy, school dates, community activities or weather, Mary’s diaries and handwritten family histories are the first place to look.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Robert Keith McCreary; son-in-law, Lynn E. Byers; sister, Anna Margaret Larson, and nephew, Ronald Hogue.
Those left to cherish her memory include her children, James Alan (Carol Anne) McCreary of Mount Ayr, Iowa and Mary Kathryn Byers of Davenport, Iowa; grandchildren, Edward Keith (Tina) McCreary and Barbara Jean (Nial) Belzer of Mount Ayr, Iowa, Kay Marie Byers of Des Moines, Iowa and Megan Byers of Davenport, Iowa; great-grandchildren, Andrew and Laurie Anne Belzer and James Edward (Jed), Jacob and Jessica McCreary of Mount Ayr, Iowa and Aleksis Byers and Demetrius, Nolan and Zackary Caddell of Des Moines, Iowa; sisters, Doris Mahrenholtz of Atlanta, Georgia and Aileene Dickerson of Lenox, Iowa; brother, Charles Hogue of Tama, Iowa, and many beloved nephews, nieces and cousins.
A memorial fund has been established to Wishard Chapel United Methodist Church.
Services were conducted at Watson-Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr on Tuesday, November 9, 2010, with Rev. Merrill Silas and Rev. Dan Fernandez officiating. Musicians included Nancy Sackett, Grace Warin and Joyce Gregg.
Casket bearers included Ed McCreary, Jed McCreary, Jacob McCreary, Nial Belzer, Tom Larson, John Larson, Mike Hogue and Raymond Shields.
Honorary pallbearers were Mount Ayr High School Class of 1940, Jim Monahan, Jeff Monahan and Doyle Richards.
Mary was laid at rest in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Mount Ayr.