Mary Ann Billmyer, age 96, died peacefully, surrounded by family at her home (as she always wished) in Cresco, Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.
She was born Dec. 31, 1921 to Edward and Anna (Lusson) Schemmel, on their farm north of Cresco. She was raised working on the farm and graduated from Cresco High School in 1940. For two years Mary Ann taught in one room, multiple grade country schools at both Lourdes and Albion Township. She then attended aircraft traffic control and radio communication school and worked for the airlines in Washington, D.C., during World War II. She enjoyed living in Arlington, Va.
On Oct. 9, 1944, she married her high school sweetheart, Louis “Bud” Billmyer, while he was on a short Navy leave, in Miami, Fla. Bud served two more years in the Pacific Theater. Mary Ann returned to Cresco to care for their first child. When Bud was discharged in 1946, they decided to settle in Cresco. They bought a lot on Gillette Ave. and, over time, completed building their first and only home. Over the next 12 years, she was a full-time homemaker and mother. She was busy raising a steadily increasing number of children, while enjoying her canning, jelly preserving and all types of baking.
Mary Ann later worked part-time out of the home at Billmyer Furniture (then co-owned by brothers Leo and Bud) from 1958-62. In 1969 she was a lunch program baker at St. Joseph’s Elementary. In 1975 she returned to work at then “Bud-owned” Billmyer Furniture.
Mary Ann volunteered throughout her adult life, belonging to Howard County Hospital Auxiliary “Pink Ladies” as coordinator, Evans Memorial Home Auxiliary, American Legion and visiting shut-ins. Her St. Joseph’s Catholic Church commitments were always a big part of her life. She taught CCD classes and served in both the Women’s Club and the Altar & Rosary Society. Her lifetime love of history led to serving for years as president of the Howard County Historical Society. She enjoyed researching the early family trees of the county.
Mary Ann and Bud retired in 1982, spending the next 16 years wintering in Mesa, Ariz. They enjoyed bowling, camping, traveling and square dancing. Her hobbies included crocheting afghans for all her grandchildren, card art, zipper art, paper tole art, etching, pastel painting and baking. She especially loved Christmas, family time and keeping up with relatives and friends.
Those left to cherish Mary Ann’s memory include six children, Steven (Bobbi) Billmyer of Marco Island, Fla., Allyn (Diane) Billmyer of Lime Springs, Iowa, James (Cheryl) Billmyer of Dubuque, Iowa, Rebecca Billmyer of Monticello, Minn., Mark Billmyer of Washougal, Wash. and Susan (Doug) Murphy of Cresco.
22 grandchildren, Leisha (Garrett) Holmes, Louis (Karen) Billmyer, Julie (Tony) Besson, Barbara (A.J.) Collazo, Brett (Sandra) Percich, Erica Percich, Jeannie (Jeff) Freidhof, Deb (Kurt) Voves, Brenda (Steve) Galvin, Bryan (Heather) Billmyer, Jaymes (Lauren Fleming) Billmyer, Christopher Billmyer, Andrew Billmyer, Joseph Billmyer, Anna Billmyer, Ashley (Travis) Shold, Skyler Billmyer, Lexie (Jeremiah) Dyer, Paige Murphy, Mitchell (fiancé Kenzie Smith) Murphy, Chase Murphy and Davis Murphy.
26 great-grandchildren, Bridger and Katherine Holmes, Jacob and Sean Billmyer, Zachary and Alexander Besson, Christina, Jacqueline, Angelina, Joseph and Julia Collazo, Matthew, Benjamin, Nicholas and Catalina Percich, Kyler, Kolter (fiancé Kyleigh Munkel) and Karley Freidhof, Trey, Tyler and Haley Voves, Josh and Zach Galvin and Allie and Ashlyn Billmyer, Dean Shold; and one sister-in-law, Thelma (Sister Clare) Billmyer of LaCrosse, Wis.; along with many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Louis “Bud” Billmyer (May 8, 2014); parents, Edward and Anna (Lusson) Schemmel; brothers, Kenny Schemmel (in infancy) and Joe (Imogene) Schemmel; sisters, Dorothy (Dwain “Duke”) Dusheck and Agnes “Aggie” (Robert) Rima; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Louis and Alma (Nolta) Billmyer; brother-in-law, Leo and sister-in-law, cousin Rose (Bouska) Billmyer; granddaughter, Christine Billmyer; and great-granddaughter, Daisy Besson (in infancy).
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, at Notre Dame Parish in Cresco with Father Dennis Cain officiating. Burial will be held in Calvary Cemetery, Cresco. Visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, at Hindt-Hudek Funeral Home Cresco, with scripture services to follow. Visitation will continue from 10-11 a.m. before the service at the church on Saturday.
Memorials may be given to the Howard County Historial Society in memory of Mary Ann Billmyer.