Mary Ann Lewis Pedersen was born September 24, 1934 in Davis County, Iowa, the eldest of 7 children of Harry and Emma Bohi Lewis. She was educated in the schools of Missouri and Iowa, earning a Bachelors and Masters degrees at the University of Northern Iowa. She did clerical work for several years and then spent 40 years as a teacher in Fort Dodge Public Schools as well as an adjunct professor at the Iowa Central Community College and Buena Vista Colleges. She concentrated her studies and teaching on history in several areas, including womens history. As a high school teacher at Fort Dodge High, Mary Ann was respected for her high standards in academics as well as for discipline and for talking straight to students. It pleased her when, decades later, former students called out Hi, MA when they saw Mary Ann in a store and on the street, often being told with a smile that she was the only teacher they couldn't fool, and who made them behave. Her motto was always, Knowledge creates power.”
Mary Ann married Irvin Pedersen February 20, 1955. They spent almost all of their married life in Fort Dodge, where they touched countless lives. They were both active in community affairs, taking responsible and leadership roles. Mary Ann served on the Ft. Dodge Civil Rights commission, was a member of and officer for the League of Women Voters, and a participant in several teachers organizations, including Alpha Delta Kappa, The Federated Womens Club, the first woman chair of Fort Dodge Christ Lutheran Church, sponsor of the Emma Bohi Lewis scholarship at the Iowa Central Community College, a contributor to several libraries, and a nursing home volunteer for over 40 years. She also sang in the church choir for years, contributed to the decorative aspects of church services, shuttled children to Bible School, and made friends with children in the congregation.
As the oldest sister of six living siblings, Mary Ann had a major influence in the lives of her parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. Her siblings knew they could expect a card from Mary Ann and Irvin for every life event, showing their interest and love. For tragic life events, they could expect a weekly telephone call with a strong voice from Mary Ann reminding them that they were not alone. Her mother, Emma Bohi Lewis, lived with Mary Ann and Irvin after the death of Harry R. Lewis. They supported Mary Anns mother and Irvins mother-in-law through her last illness.
Mary Ann always held a deep interest in young children and their possibilities. She and her husband helped several young people with college expenses, and then there were the informal donations, such as gifts to help college students buy books, with calls and gifts to her nieces and nephews and to their children, while she enjoyed greatly their wit and individuality.
Mary Ann was proud of her lovely home and took pleasure in the phlox garden started by her mother, which Mary Ann tended each year. It provided a dash of color to her street. Today, the letters from schools and charities to whom she gave money will stack high because they will expect her regular contributions, everything from Indian Reservation schools to small town libraries (their children's departments) to scholarship funds to a fund to care for the burros in northern Africa to cancer research centers.
Mary Ann is survived by five siblings, including Dr. David T. Lewis of Arkansas (wife, Judy), Dr. John W. Lewis of Minnesota, Dr. Martha Lewis Craft- Rosenberg of Iowa City (husband, Guy), Ruth Lewis Michaud of Mr. Vernon, Iowa (husband, Norman), and Rachel Lewis Nickelson (husband, Nick) of Newport, Washington. She is also survived by nine nieces and nephews with their spouses, including Sarah Lewis (husband, Kelly) Mary Martha Lewis Kenna (husband, Tom), Faythe Lewis (husband, David), John (Jack) L. Craft (wife, Amy), Nathaniel Michaud (wife, Carol), Naomi Newhouse, Aaron Nickelson (wife, Joy), and step-nephews, Guy J. (wife, Reagan) and Gary (wife, Anna) Rosenberg. Her surviving great nieces and nephews include Cody Lewis Kenna, Seth Lewis Kenna, Alex John (AJ) Craft, Alexander (Xander) Michaud, Elizabeth Evans-Newhouse, Daniel Evans , Madison Moe, Emma Moe, step-nephews Zane, Ty, Jaxon Rosenberg, and step-niece, Alexis Belle (Lexie) Rosenberg.
Mary Ann is also survived by sister-in-law, Carla Pedersen, West Bend, Iowa; brothers and sister-in-laws, Darwin and Evelyn, Humboldt, Iowa; Myles and Shirley, Laurens, Iowa. and Gene and Karen Pedersen, Humboldt, Iowa. In addition, Mary Ann is survived by two extended families from Ames, Iowa and San Diego, California. She functioned as a loving and nurturing grandmother to the children of Bill and Nolvia Woodruff. The names of these children are Walter, Katherine, Peter, and David Woodruff. Also, the roles she and her late husband Irvin played as sponsors to the Nguyen Vinh family from Vietnam continued all these years. Mary Ann talked about the many advances of both of her extended families with great pride and admiration. Mary Ann was preceded in death by her parents, Emma and Harry R. Lewis, as well as her husband, Irvin, and brothers-in-law, John Craft and Gerald Pedersen.
The family of her late husband, Irvin Pedersen, has been an essential part of the life of Mary Ann since 1955. Since the death of Irvin, Darwin and Evelyn Pedersen provided unconditional love and continuing support to Mary Ann, making her independent life in her own home possible. Russ and Mary Lou Giddings and their daughter Robin have also been long, faithful and loving friends. Stuart Davenport has been a stalwart source of strength and assistance to Mary Ann since the death of Irvin. In addition, Jack Hampton has been a source of companionship and happiness for Mary Ann these past few years.
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