Friday, February 13, 2009

Mary Louise Wurst

Mary Louise (Willard) Wurst, 85, died Dec. 28, 2008, in Mt. Angel, Ore. of cancer complications and other chronic illnesses. Mary was born on Feb. 10, 1923, at her parents' home in Minneapolis, Minn. She was the daughter of Ralph and Marie Willard and wife of Joseph John Wurst, all preceding her in death.

Mary was raised in Minneapolis, Minn., where she attended St. Bridget's Grade School, St. Margaret's Academy High School for Girls, and St. Cloud Teacher's College where she studied elementary education. In the summer of 1944, she traveled to Colorado Springs to live temporarily with her brother, Ralph Willard, and his wife, Winifred, before Ralph's deployment overseas. While working as a payroll clerk at the Peterson Field Air Base in Colorado Springs, she met Joseph John (Joe) Wurst of Gannett, Idaho, who was a PFC in the U.S. Army. They married at St. Bridget's Church in Minneapolis, Minn. on Sept. 25, 1945, and following Joe's discharge from the Army in February 1946 moved to the Idaho family ranch. Mary co-owned a nursery school before leaving Minnesota, and after moving to Idaho and having five children, she went back to college and graduated in June 1964 with a B.A. in elementary education and minor in English. She taught school for the Blaine County School District.

Mary was involved in numerous community organizations such as the American Legion Auxiliary, American Red Cross, 4-H, Cattlemen's Association Auxiliary and PTA. She and Joe were selected Outstanding National Young Couple of the Year in 1959 by the National Grange, and both served on the 4-H Camp Planning and Advisory Board. As part of 4-H and teaching associations, they hosted international youth from Chile, Ireland, Japan and France, as well as chaperoned a young group to Japan in 1973. Mary was a member of St. Charles Catholic Church where she belonged to the Altar Society and directed the church choir for several years. She enjoyed teaching, knitting, sewing, crocheting and other craft projects.

Mary and Joe lived and worked on the family cattle ranch until 1986 when they retired, sold the ranch and moved to Twin Falls, Idaho. In the late 1980s, they purchased a winter home in Yuma, Ariz. For several years they spent the summers in Idaho and the winters in Arizona. In 2002, they sold both the Idaho and Arizona homes and moved to Woodburn, Ore., to be closer to family.

Mary is survived by her five children, Mary Church and husband, Mel, of Aloha, Ore.; Roger Wurst and wife, Cheryl, of Las Vegas, Nev.; Nancy Hoobler and husband, Gordon, of Deary, Idaho; John Wurst of Haines, Alaska; and Beth Victoria Wurst of Boise, Idaho. She is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren; one brother, Theodore (Ted) Willard and wife, Sylvia, of Burnsville, Minn., as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Preceding her in death were her parents, Ralph David Willard and Marie Antoinette LaBissoniere Willard; her beloved husband, Joe; two brothers, Ralph and Allen; and one sister, Bernadette.

A Catholic Memorial Mass and graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 19, in Hailey, Idaho, at St. Charles Catholic Church. Remembrances can be made to the Idaho Youth Ranch, the American Red Cross or the Betty Hise Trust for Cancer Research.

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