Cover photo for Mary Gauthier's Obituary
Mary Gauthier Profile Photo
1923 Mary 2022

Mary Gauthier

February 4, 1923 — February 8, 2022

Mary Elizabeth Gauthier died peacefully of natural causes at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in Lawrence, Kansas in the pre-dawn hours of February 8, 2022, four days after she reached her 99th birthday. Through her characteristic foresight, Mary had previously placed herself under the care of the professional staff at Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence, Kansas.

Mary was born on February 4, 1923 in Corning, Iowa as the third of six children. Early photographic evidence and long memories confirm that as the sole female child among five male siblings, Mary’s casual wardrobe was the androgenous overalls of the period; but they also document the wry wit and sense of independence for which she became both admired and notorious as she aged gracefully.

Mary’s dad, Albert, was the editor/publisher of the Adams County Free Press where all family members contributed to the community through the weekly gathering and publishing of the news in southwest Iowa. Maturing during the Great Depression infused providence into Mary’s soul but not at the expense of the generosity she instinctively extended to everyone she met.

Observing her parents endure the common, local anxiety of having three sons in precarious theaters of war in the early 1940s and watching as too many families received the dreaded Western Union telegrams that found their way into the Free Press offices, Mary incorporated empathy, compassion, and a resolute faith in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church into her fundamental identity.

Mary’s mother, Grace, was also an enduring influence in her life. When Albert died suddenly on Christmas Eve in 1949, Mary, her siblings, and a young “country girl” named Ilene Maeder who had moved into the household, collaborated to sustain Gramma Grace when she became the adhesive that held the family together.

After attending Ottumwa Heights College and earning a B.A. in 1951 from Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa, Mary applied her office management training in multiple academic and business venues, including Marycrest and the Free Press, before becoming the Business Education Instructor at Corning High School in 1952.

Mary always embraced the extended family as it expanded from its Iowa roots to other states. By the time Grace died in 1971, Mary had become Gauthier Family Central, meticulously recording and reporting the whereabouts and activities of her siblings and their burgeoning families.

In June of 1959, Mary made the bold and fateful decision to accept a position as the Coordinator of Office Education at Lawrence High School. That decision advanced the trajectories of countless lives, including those of her family, LHS students, and staff even long after she “retired” in 1986.

During her nearly three decades at LHS Mary established herself, unpretentiously, as a distinguished educator beloved by her students and professional peers.

Her memories of her career transition to Lawrence featured her respect for the Unified School District 497 administrators she served and LHS staff members with whom she formed lifelong bonds of friendship and loyalty. She loved to share those feelings, reflections, and tales of her Iowa roots with others, especially the younger generations.

Mary’s recitations of that history and the anecdotes she recited were also noteworthy for their humility, accuracy, and concentration on everyone but herself.
History will also record the legend of St. Patrick Church’s “Four Marys,” who entertained local audiences with their musical treats during the 1930s and later offered their extraordinary gifts to their community and chosen professions. The renowned quartet of Mary Gauthier (education), Mary Lyons (medical), Mary Margaret Mack Lenz (education) and Mary Jane Hogan Bick (internationally known vocalist) made the world a much better place for those whose lives they touched.

Even after more than 60 years as a staunch Kansan, Mary self-identified primarily as a daughter of Corning. She delighted in preserving her deep connections with Corning and its residents. She was a faithful attendee at her Corning high school class (1940) reunions and was the senior member of the Corning Alumni Committee that has created an enduring historical chronicle through its publication of the Corning Alumni News for the past 20 years.

Long after Mary had moved to Lawrence and Grace had died, she and Ilene kept the family residence on Sixth Street in Corning as a haven for extended family members who “came home” to visit.

Mary’s adaptability was evident in her mastery and teaching manual to multiple generations of electric typewriters, then to computers and data processing. In addition to updating the family address book annually, Mary stayed engaged with her friends and family through emails, Facebook and Zoom. She was a regular participant in the Descendants of Albert and Grace Gauthier Facebook page created by her nephew, Jan.

Her innate curiosity and sense of adventure were also manifest during international excursions she enjoyed with close friends and colleagues. Many of those friends also remember an extended Grand Canyon rafting expedition with Mary.

Mary appreciated, modestly, the multiple accolades she has received for her service to public education and business. In 1975, the Kansas Vocational Association named her the state’s Outstanding Master Vocational Educator; and in 1980 she received the H.D. Shotwell Individual Service Award from Office Education of Kansas.

Countless former students have paid her the ultimate educator’s honor of staying in close contact with her throughout the decades and perpetuating the distinctive Mary Gauthier Brand.

Mary also took deep satisfaction from her participation in and contributions to the Lawrence Business and Professional Women’s Club, St. John’s Catholic Church in Lawrence and St. Patrick Church in Corning.

A singular indulgence Mary allowed herself was the personal connection with her namesake, Mary Gauthier, a New Orleans born and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who lives in Nashville, TN. Several years ago, Lawrence Mary was visiting her brother Gerald and his family in Nashville. The two Marys met at one of Nashville Mary’s music performances there and they became gracious friends over the years.

She has now completed the circle and joined the elite gallery of late Corning educators whose legacies endure in the values, visions, and prosperity that have defined her native community for generations.

Mary is survived by her youngest brother, Gerald (Dude), sister-in-law, Cleo, and eighteen of her twenty-two nieces and nephews, along with three generations of their progeny. Mary sustained the deaths of her brothers Paul, Robert, Philip, and Raymond; four sisters-in-law, Marcia, Mary Alice, Mary Lou, and Marilyn; one niece, Margaret (Peggy); and three nephews, Michael, Christopher and Albert Leo, Jr.

Mary also is survived by innumerable friends and former students in Lawrence, Corning, throughout the country, and at Presbyterian Manor where staff and residents miss her dearly. Many of those friends, including the staffs of Visiting Nurse Association and Meals on Wheels, earned Mary’s and her family’s gratitude for their years of service to her before she moved into Presbyterian Manor.

A Rosary/visitation will be held at Pearson Family Funeral Service & Cremation Center in Corning from 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on April 8, 2022.

Memorial Masses will be held for Mary at St. John’s Catholic Church in Lawrence at 10:00 a.m. on March 4, 2022, and at her home parish, St. Patrick Church, in Corning, Iowa on April 9, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Burial ceremonies will be conducted at Calvary Cemetery in Corning following the Mass with a luncheon in Mary’s honor at the historic Corning Opera House.

Memorials honoring Mary may be sent to St. Patrick Church, the Corning Alumni Association, and the Corning Education Foundation for a scholarship in Mary’s memory.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Gauthier, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Open Visitation

Friday, April 8, 2022

3:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Pearson Family Funeral Service & Cremation Center - Corning

701 7th Street, Corning, IA 50841

The Rosary will be said at 4:30 P.M.

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Family Receiving Friends

Friday, April 8, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Pearson Family Funeral Service & Cremation Center - Corning

701 7th Street, Corning, IA 50841

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

St. Patrick Catholic Church

, Corning, IA 50841

A luncheon will be held at the Corning Opera House following burial

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Corning Calvary Cemetery

Juniper Avenue, Corning, IA 50841

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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