Mary’s parents were Norwegian, giving her a rich culture in Norwegian traditions in the town of Plano, Illinois. Mary loved to go for rides in the car. On Sunday afternoons, the family would drive to her maternal grandparents’ farm near Newark, Illinois. Grandma Hill spoke mostly Norwegian. The Hills’ eight children and their families provided a great visiting time. Mary’s father and his brothers built a telephone pole cabin on land near the Fox River. The family had many great reunions there as well. Family was very important in Mary’s life.
Mary and her sisters, Ann and Sue, were active in many local activities including those held at First Lutheran Church, where Mary was baptized and confirmed. Mary had many friends in Plano, who called her by the nickname “Muat.” Mary was active in 4-H, band, and held many jobs in her early years. She worked as household help at a large Arabian horse farm, after school at the Community Bank of Plano, where her father also worked, detasseled corn in the many cornfields of Kendall and surrounding counties, waitress jobs, and as secretary at Plano Molding Factory. Mary’s father also had an insurance business he ran on Saturdays. Mary was her dad’s “boy,” riding with him on drives through the country to collect insurance premiums.
Mary graduated at the top of her class from Plano High School in 1953. She played the piano and in the school band played the bassoon and bell lyre, never receiving lower than a blue ribbon in competitions. Mary received a state scholarship to Northern Illinois University and attended one and a half years as a home economics major, specializing to become a dietician.
Love conquered college studies when Mary began dating Bob Squirell. Bob and Mary enjoyed going skating and to dances and movies. On February 18, 1955, Mary and Robert Lewis Squirell were joined in marriage and lived on the Squirell farm near Plano, Illinois. Later that year, Bob began construction and contractor work and the couple resided in Plano, most often in a house Bob had built himself, moving as the family grew.
Three children were born to this union: Rebecca Sue (Squirell) Moore, Robert Lynn Squirell, and Patrick Lewis Squirell. Mary took part in many of her children’s activities, including teaching Sunday school, room mother, and acting as a Girl Scout leader. Mary was very creative in making costumes for church programs, Halloween costumes, and theater productions. She also taught the children Norwegian ways, serving krumkake, kringla, and other Norwegian delights at Christmas. She also had a great appreciation for Norwegian artwork, such as rose mailing painting and woodcarving. Mary’s children and husband were always very proud of their mother. Bob most often called Mary “Mother” instead of her given name.
In 1973, the family moved to Misty Mountain Charolais Ranch, south of Mountain Grove, Missouri, where they also ran Mill Run Lumber Company. Mary enjoyed growing beautiful flowers and food for her family in the garden, including a strawberry pyramid Bob built for her and apple and pear orchards. She also harvested nature’s bounty of blackberries, grapes, and black walnuts.
Mary started work at Brown Shoe Factory two weeks after moving to Missouri, working as a top stitcher, barber trim, floor lady, commissary clerk, and piece rate clerk, making many friends as she worked. When the Mountain Grove Brown Shoe Factory closed, she continued working in the offices of Brown Shoe at Cabool and Houston, Missouri, for a total of 25 years with Brown Shoe.
Mary occasionally created beautiful dried flower arrangements and grapevine baskets and wreaths which she sold at local consignment shops. She continued going for rides with family members and friends, enjoying the beautiful scenery and interesting locations she would find in the area.
In 1990, the Squirells moved to the present home near Cabool. Mary enjoyed having a large home and beautiful gardens. When all the shoe factories closed, Mary attended Vatterott College, studying business and secretary skills. After graduating, she worked for a local bank, Jeffers Veterinary Supply, the garden department of Walmart, and El Rancho Truck Stop. When Mary’s illness was discovered, she did not work away from home any more, but continued to keep house and garden as long as possible.
Mary was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Mountain Grove. She served as secretary of the United Methodist Women group, helped with children’s church and Bible school, and served on the Board of Trustees. Mary loved the music at Trinity church services. She especially enjoyed seeing her granddaughters as they participated in programs and special music numbers.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents and an older sister, Ann Bartels.
She is survived by her husband, Bob, of the home; one daughter, Rebecca Sue (Squirell) Moore, and two sons, Robert Lynn Squirell and Patrick Lewis Squirell, all of Mountain Grove; one sister, Sue (Henricksen) Schimmelpfenning of Ef-fingham Illinois; three granddaughters, Sarah Ann (Moore) Coakley, Shelby Cass Squirell, and Zoey Raine Squirell; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends that will miss her.
Visitation will be held on Friday, December 18, 2015, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Craig-Hurtt Funeral Home.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 19, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church in Mountain Grove, with Rev. Fred Royer officiating. Burial will be in Hillcrest Cemetery under the direction of Craig-Hurtt Funeral Home.
Memorial contributions may be made to Trinity United Methodist “Music Fund” c/o the funeral home.