Mary Lee Jorgenson, beloved wife of Dale A. Jorgenson, passed away Sunday, March 6, 2022 in Bettendorf, Iowa.
Mrs. Jorgenson was born in Ohio County, West Virginia on April 28, 1927 to John Salem and Hazel Riggs Strawn. She was raised on an active and hard-working family dairy farm, and graduated from Triadelphia High School in Wheeling, WV in May, 1945; as WW II was still winding down she then went directly to Washington, D.C., where she became a specialist in fingerprint analysis for the FBI.
In June, 1946, Mary Lee went to Harding College (now University), in Searcy, Arkansas, where she met Dale Jorgenson. They were married on the Harding College Campus on May 29, 1947. Mary Lee completed her first two years of college before the young family moved.
Following her husband’s career, Mary Lee attended classes at Southeastern Christian College in Kentucky, Texas Woman’s University, Bethany College (West Virginia), and Northeast Missouri State Teachers’ College (now Truman State University) in Kirksville, MO, from which she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
She began teaching English after her children were all of school age, first at Brashear High School, and later at Ophelia Parrish Junior High School in Kirksville, retiring in 1987.
Mary Lee was the quintessential Christian helpmate, not only moving with her husband Dale from one post to the next, but traveling with and working beside him as he was conducting research on and writing five books. She traveled in 49 of the United States and made fourteen trips to Europe to support him in academic research and professional meetings. She read, edited, and carefully proofed every article or book written by her husband.
She had a beautiful and strong voice, and loved to sing in church and in choruses, participating in numerous performances of major oratorios, as well as in college musicals and concerts. (As a mother of [then] four she sang in Dale’s Bethany College Choir tour of Scotland just as if she were another young co-ed, and was once one of the “three little maids from school.”) As “the preacher’s wife” she joined many different church choirs, and easily switched from soprano to alto as needed.
Mary Lee was an enthusiastic sports fan, encouraging her children to participate in athletics, and joining Dale in following favored college and professional teams. Mary Lee was enthusiastic in every avenue of her life, once diving off the high dive at the Kirksville Municipal Swimming Pool on a dare. She swam and rode bikes with her kids, beat them occasionally at a rapid fire game of round robin ping-pong, and took frequent vigorous walks.
Mary Lee’s children remember her often whipping up a batch of homemade ice cream – for others to crank of course, or making an extra Christmas dessert because her oldest loved the Kentucky stirred custard. She loved entertaining, especially at the holidays.
Mrs. Jorgenson loved teaching, she enjoyed daily Bible study, reading on a wide variety of topics, plant care, attending cultural activities, and spending time at community and church events. She was interested in genealogy and in travel, sometimes combining these interests while necessarily using her well-honed map-reading and navigational skills. Mary Lee lived far away from her childhood home and relatives, and visiting family members was one of her highest priorities.
Mary Lee loved Jesus and loved life. She naturally loved people and they reciprocated, even eliciting a touching fondness from the caregivers at The Fountains/The Cascades in Bettendorf, Iowa who attended her during the last year of her life, and to whom great thanks is owed.
Mary Lee gave her life to Christ in 1944, and served as a beloved wife of a minister at six congregations. She was a member of the Kirksville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at the time of her death.
Mary Lee is survived by one sister, Colleen Martsolf of Salem, Ohio, all five of her children, Dale A. Jorgenson, Rebekah Lee Stringert, Mark S. Jorgenson (Colette), Janet Jorgenson (Paul Powell), and Eric L. Jorgenson (Alica), as well as by ten grandchildren, Rachel Collett, Joshua Selser, Matthew S. (Jodi) and Brian Jorgenson, Dana Jorgenson, Alexandra Civalleri (Mischka), Laura Jorgenson (Daniel Garrett), Paul J. Powell, and Marek and Lucas Jorgenson. Mary Lee is also survived by five great grandchildren: Becca and Brooks Jorgenson, Lydia Mae and Caroline Jean Garrett, and Luna Kathleen Civalleri.
Mrs. Jorgenson was preceded in death by her husband Dale, her parents, four brothers and five sisters, her daughter-in-law Rebecca Ann Jorgenson and her daughter-in-law Jean Jorgenson.
Friends and family will gather in Christian fellowship to honor Mary Lee’s life on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at the Davis-Playle-Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home in Kirksville, Missouri at 11:00 am, with a luncheon immediately following. Burial will be in Park View Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be from 10:15 to 11:00 a.m. Saturday, May 14, 2022 at the funeral home.
Memorials are suggested to Samaritan’s Purse.
Arrangements in the care of Davis-Playle-Hudson-Rimer Funeral Home; www.davisplaylehudsonrimer.com.