Marianne (Mary) Ayers, age 94, died peacefully in the early morning hours of Sunday, January 17 at Bishop Drumm Care Center in Johnston, Iowa.
Born on January 8, 1922 in Madrid, Iowa to Petar and Anna Butorac, Mary’s childhood was rooted in the American immigrant experience. She enjoyed telling stories of making povitica, picking dandelions for wine and growing up in “Boxtown,” a mining camp community in Madrid rich with Croatian and Italian immigrants who settled the area to work in nearby coal mines.
She moved to Des Moines after graduating from high school in 1939 and worked at Socony Vacuum Oil Company and Northwestern Bell. She met the man she would marry, Carl Ayers, in the choir at St. Ambrose Cathedral. They wed in 1946 and were blessed with eight children.
After living in Perry and Ottumwa, they moved to Windsor Heights in 1958. Mary returned to work outside the home some years later and retired from the Registrar’s Office at Drake University in 1987. She lived in her little house at 67th and School until a move to Bishop Drumm Care Center in 2013.
True to her upbringing by Croatian immigrant parents who were born and raised in Tuk, Yugoslavia, she preferred and lived a simple life. She was hardworking, possessed a gentle spirit and a kind and patient nature, and was most content with what she had. She counted among her greatest blessings her family, faith and church. It is a tribute to her that she never showed favoritism toward any of her many children or grandchildren. She loved them all—fair and square.
As a rule she kept her opinions to herself, was an avid reader, rarely met a crossword or jigsaw puzzle she didn’t like—and a good day usually included hanging laundry outside on the clothesline or doing a little ironing.
She was a longtime member of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church.
She was preceded in death by her husband Carl; daughter-in-law Karen Ayers; son-in-law John Geigley; her brothers Emil, Martin, Fred and Pete as well as John who died in infancy; and her sister Ethel Seuferer.
She is survived by her children Dave, Carol Geigley, Joe (Jill), Joyce, Pat (Deb), Chris Summy, Charlie (Susan), and Melanie (Tom) Donahue; 13 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at St. Theresa on Thursday, January 21 from 5–7 p.m. with a vigil service at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Theresa on Friday, January 22 at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be at Glendale Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. Theresa Catholic Church or the Des Moines Public Library.
Bog blagoslovio i vas, majko.