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Mary Elizabeth Hart

August 21, 2019
Estherville News

Mary Elizabeth Hart, age 77 years, of Estherville, Iowa passed away on August 18, 2019 at Good Samaritan Center.

Mary was born on April 10, 1942, in Kingsley, Iowa. Her parents were Ray Edger and Gay Margaret (Becker) Rieke. As a young child she moved to Sioux City where she attended school and graduated from Central High School. She was a student at the University of Iowa where she was among the university's earliest graduates in special needs pre-school education. Her love of children, especially those with special needs, guided her work, involvement in her community, and her family.

She began her career teaching special needs children in Sioux City, Iowa. While in Sioux City, Mary directed the Siouxland Children's Theater, as well as an entertaining children's television program on KCAU-TV.

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After moving to Estherville, Iowa in 1976, Mary owned and operated the Small World preschool. For nearly three decades she worked for Forest Ridge Youth Services spearheading education for the children residing at the facility.

Mary was the President of the Estherville chapter of ARC, an organization serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She also served two terms on the board of ECHO providing training and life skills opportunities to special needs children and adults in the region.

As an advocate for at risk women and children, Mary was a National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in group and foster homes and victims of spousal abuse. She was a leader in establishing and operating an innovative Sexual Assault and Crisis Hot Line serving Estherville and the surrounding area. Mary's home was the frequent residential host for at risk children including the temporary placement of numerous infants pending their adoption.

Mary was a tireless supporter of her community and strove to enhance its quality of life. Mary was chairperson of the Northwest Iowa Humane Society during the development of the animal shelter at Medford, Iowa. She was the coordinator of the art show at the Estherville Winter Sports Festival.

As a voracious reader, she shared her passion in a local book club. Her love of cooking found expression in a dinner club. For three decades, she and her friends joined together to celebrate birthdays. Her love of quilting led to owning and operating Wooden Thimble Quilt Store where for more than two decades she inspired many new and experienced quilters.

Mary is survived by her husband of 51 years, Jim Hart of Estherville; and her six children including Lynda of Estherville, Iowa; Amanda of Ottumwa, Iowa; Otto of Windom, Minnesota; Robert of Rock Valley, Iowa; Larry of Belle Fourche, South Dakota; and Dave of Richland, Washington. Mary was blessed with 10 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren.

Mary was preceeded in death by her parents, Ray Edger and Gay Margaret Rieke, her sister Patricia Kass, plus several members of Jim's family.

The family extends its appreciation for the kindness, compassion, and care provided to Mary by the health care professionals at the Mayo Clinics in Rochester and Fairmont, Minnesota, as well as Holy Family Hospital, Good Samaritan Center, and Hospice in Estherville, Iowa.

Family and friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Mary's life at the Henry Olson Funeral Home in Estherville, Iowa. An informal visitation will be held on August 25, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Visitation will be followed at 3:30 p.m. with a Celebration of Life service.

In lieu of flowers or memorials the family requests donations in Mary's memory be made to The Estherville Public Library or Avera Hospice of Estherville, Iowa.



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