Somerville, Mary Kathryn
Mary Kathryn Somerville, 67, passed away peacefully in her home surrounded by her loving family on Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. Brosh Chapel Cedar Rapids assisted the family.
Mary was born at Peoples Memorial Hospital in Independence, Iowa, on Sept. 13, 1945, to Leon and Maxine McGrath. Her education began in a one room school house in Buchanan County. After graduating from St. John’s High School, Mary attended the State College of Iowa (UNI), earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. Mary went on to earn her Master’s Degree from the University of Iowa in Special Education and Education Administration.
Mary had three passions in life, which she devoted herself wholeheartedly to: Family, Education and Conservation.
Mary began her diverse career in education as a teacher in Racine, Wis., in 1966. Following that, she taught for the Mental Health Institute in Independence, served as an educational strategist and resource teacher for the Midwest Regional Resource Center project for the U.S. Department of Education. In 1975, Mary taught special education for the Iowa City Community School District, before moving to the Grant Wood Area Education Agency. From 1980 to 1992, Mary was the senior educator in Child Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. In 1992, she returned to Grant Wood AEA as a regional facilitator. She finished her career back at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics from 2004 to 2010 as educational consultant and manager of Educational Services in the Department of Rehabilitation Therapies. Her co-workers described her as a strong, compassionate leader who was very kind and respectful.
Mary has been described by a friend as a “conservation extraordinaire.” She had a passion for showing people how they can be better stewards of the land and how they can do their part in keeping watersheds healthy. She enjoyed sharing her interest in conservation with everyone. She was elected as commissioner of the Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation Board in 1990, where she devoted many years to education and bringing together farmers and members of the community. She also chaired the Clear Creek Watershed Advisory Board from its formation in June 1998, until her retirement in 2010. In her various leadership roles, Mary received a number of awards and recognition for her tireless and impactful conservation efforts. When you drive over a bridge in Johnson County and see a sign telling you the name of the creek you are by, you can thank Mary for that.
Mary had a great love for life and lit up any room she entered. She enjoyed spending time with her family. Some of her favorite moments were spent drinking coffee and watching the birds outside the kitchen window with her best friend, and the love of her life, Kevin.
She was incredibly devoted to her husband, children, grandchildren and all of her family. She loved to travel, especially to the Rocky Mountains, listen to music, watch the Hawkeyes, quilting, taking care of her beautiful gardens and take time to enjoy nature’s beauty.
Every day of her life was filled with smiles, strength and grace. May she stay forever young.
She will be greatly missed by so many friends and family members, including her husband, Kevin Somerville; her son, Brennan (Stacia) McGrath, their children Walter, Graham and Isabelle Robles; stepdaughter, Jessi Williams, her children Kyla and Dylan Williams; her daughter, Kristi Somerville; and her son, Seth (Peggy) Somerville and their son, Max Somerville. Her brothers, Ron (Alice) McGrath and Tom (Linda) McGrath; as well as all of her nephews and nieces.
She is also survived by her mother-in-law, Lois Ridout; her brother-in law, Keith (Joni) Somerville; Kay (Al) Strother; and all of her nieces and nephews on the Somerville side.
It was Mary’s wish that a celebration of her life be held at her home located in rural Oxford. An open house will be held at 2398 Echo Ave. NW, Oxford, IA 52322 from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Clear Creek Watershed Enhancement Project, Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District, 51 Escort Lane, Iowa City, IA 52240.
Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.broshchapel.com.
Published in The Gazette Dec. 17, 2012.