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Mary was the eldest daughter of Marie (Denn) and Walter Maurer. Born March 5, 1927 at home and raised on the family farm on the banks of the Cobb River south of Beauford. She was quick to remind many that she was born in the year that Charles Lindberg was the first to fly solo across the Atlantic.
She attended country school in Beauford District 86. She continued friendships and lifelong connections with friends from all walks of life including many of the one room school. Mary attracted many great friends who shared similar cornerstone values.
After graduation from Mapleton High School in 1945, she was selected and enrolled in the US Army Nurses Cadet Corps. This accelerated program was created during WWII to reduce the shortage of nurses. Mary trained at St Mary’s School of Nursing in Rochester, MN and cared for wounded returning from the war. Mary left the Corps in 1948 and remained close to many of the friends she made and attended reunions of the program until very recently.
Mary returned to the Mankato area and began nursing in Mankato hospitals and later as Mapleton School nurse.
In 1950, she married Dale K Duncanson, a US Navy veteran and Mapleton area farmer. They began growing a farm and family west of Mapleton 5 miles from her beloved Beauford home. Mary and Dale farmed with Dale’s brother Harold and his wife Melva for nearly 2 decades as Duncanson Brothers. They raised 4 children and opened their lives to many farm employees, exchange students, cultural exchanges, and international farm interns from 6 continents. Mary and Dale continued service to their community and country by actively volunteering for many organizations including the VFW, local schools, agricultural organizations, St Teresa’s and other area churches. She was a homemaker, gardener, nurse, community volunteer, farmer and livestock feeder, community and farm life photographer and recorder, in business with her husband, her in laws, and eventually her children. They were enthusiastic honorary members of the Heather Curling Club and Maple River Burns Club and participated late into life. She quips that she only stopped curling in her mid 80’s because the ice in the parking lot caused her concern about falling, not that the arena ice might have been slippery.
Mary and Dale were blessed and enjoyed travel to 6 continents, many times visiting friends from exchanges, agricultural interests, and traveling with church, farm, community, and nursing school friends.
Mary was a lifelong learner, but not necessarily in the academic sense. Learning was often times done by seeing firsthand and doing/experimenting for herself. She saved back issues of the Maple River Messenger and school yearbooks in case a detail needed to be revisited. Travel allowed her special opportunities to learn. She was proud that all of her children received a degree from the University of Minnesota. She was a daily reader of the Mankato Free Press, recently reading to her caregivers at Mapleton Community Home.
Mary unselfishly cared for her family and many in the community. Quietly and often behind the scenes, she supported hers and other’s children and grandchildren at school, community events, and in life. She encouraged all to try activities she wasn’t able to enjoy growing up, regardless of win loss record. Mary cherished the success of being involved and giving encouragement to do your best. She cared for Dale and kept him at home during his long illness until his death in 1998. For decades, she sent cards and recognition to each member of Mapleton area graduating classes and multiple churches confirmation classes. She demanded the entire class roster for inclusion in her list so she was sure that every student received a card and no one was left out.
After Dale’s passing in 1998, Mary stepped up her volunteer and service game. She found a renewed opportunity to lead a life with purpose and enthusiasm. In addition to continuing to live on the farm as long as her health allowed, she renewed her service and volunteer spirit. She engaged with her grandchildren and was known as “Grandma Mary” to a generation of students at Maple River Schools. She honed her leadership skills as Sertoma Club President and helped in organizing veterans programs and events. Mary was a frequent visitor at the Mapleton Community Home, often times sharing fresh flowers from her overflowing garden. Mary kept her own clock and wasn’t always punctual to arrive at events before they started. This was not a sign of disrespect for the event, often the result of trying to do more things in life than many thought possible.
She lived by the belief that if you show up, you should sing like you mean it!
Mary died December 4th at the Mapleton Community Home from Covid complications. A celebration of life is being planned for July 3rd, 2021. Details are pending.
Mary is survived by her three children, Joan (Rich) Elbert of Inver Grove Heights, Tom Duncanson of Mankato, Patrick (Kristin) Duncanson of Mapleton; Daughter in Law Jackie Duncanson of Mapleton: eleven grandchildren, Eric Fossum, Holly (Scott) Huston, Dan (Katie) Elbert, Kameron (LeAnna) Duncanson, Justine (Tomi) Giwa, Karson (Amber) Duncanson, Jordan (Travis) Zimmerman, Benjamin (Crystal) Duncanson, Claire (Nathan) Carpenter, Samuel Duncanson, Gabriel Duncanson; thirteen great-grandchildren, Lincoln, Chase, Anthony, Royce, Leo, Karl, Aure, Halie, Keegan, Lane, Kayden, Lauren, Theodore; nieces, nephews and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Dale, son Karl, brother Leo, and sister Margy.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Mapleton Area Foundation: PO Box 221, Mapleton, MN 56065 or online https://smifoundation.org/donations/mapleton-area-foundation
St Teresa’s Catholic Church: PO Box 305, Mapleton, MN 56065
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