Mary Clariene (Erickson) Berg Ardrey, 91, of Woodstock, IL peacefully passed away into the arms of Jesus, on Monday, November 9, 2020 - her daughter at her side, after a full, active life and an extended illness. She was born at home, on May 3, 1929 to Clarence & Beulah (Ayen II) Erickson, in the Norwegian- American community of Blanchardville, WI. Raised on a small farm during the depression era of the 1930’s, with her older sister, Thelma and younger brother, Leif, Mary learned at a very early age to work hard, be very frugal and “make do” with her resources. She attended the Iowa County Moscow one-room school, grades 1-8, which influenced her to become an elementary school teacher. Mary attended Blanchardville High School where she participated in solo vocal music competitions, played saxophone in the band, became a teacher’s assistant for the lower grades and graduated with her high school sweetheart, Donald Isaac Berg in 1947. Her dream of becoming a teacher was realized in 1950, when she received her 3 year teaching certificate from the State Teachers College (‘47-’50) in Platteville, WI, and began teaching Third Grade in Blanchardville.
Another dream of Mary’s was realized when she married Don on December 27, 1950, the coldest day of the year (-36̊), at Blanchardville Lutheran Church. They farmed with Don’s parents until 1952, when Don was inducted into the U.S. Army, during the Korean Conflict. They moved to Kileen, Texas when he was stationed at Ft. Hood. When the Bergs returned home in 1954, they resumed farming in the Blanchardville/Argyle area, purchasing their own 430+ acre farm in 1958, and raising their family (Nolan, Natalee, Donna). Farm life was very busy for Mary as she raised their children, tended a large vegetable garden, cooked, baked, canned, sewed and daily helped with milking the cows. Beginning in 1962, Mary compassionately cared for Don during his 2 year battle with brain cancer.
After Don’s death in February 1964, Mary moved her young family to Platteville, WI, where she courageously raised her family with the help of God and caring friends. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree (1965) and Master’s Degree (1969) in Education at UW-Platteville. Mary enjoyed teaching in the public schools and also did clerical work at UW-Platteville Registrar’s office, Platteville High School, the Chamber of Commerce and a dentist office. Mary was very active in her church (Peace Lutheran Church and Westview Primative Methodist Church), where she taught Vacation Bible School, Sunday School classes of all ages, and also sang in the church choir. She was also instrumental in helping to bring the The Branch Christian Bookstore to Platteville. One of Mary’s gifts was hospitality. She hosted family, friends and college students in her home for a ‘good home-cooked meal’. She unofficially ‘adopted’ several of those college students, who called her “Mom”. Long before she had grandchildren of her own, she also ‘adopted’ a family who greatly benefitted from the extra love and care of “Grama”. This tradition of ‘adopting’ families, children, college students or individuals who needed some extra love and care, continued throughout her life, so she became “Grandma” to many other children, as well.
In 1978, Mary moved to Huntington, IN to become Resident Director at Livingston Hall & Hardy Hall (‘78-’82), at Huntington College, and became “Mom Berg” to hundreds of students. She later worked for Huntington Christian Bookstore, Good Shepherd United Brethern in Christ Church; Grace Theological Seminary – Warsaw. When Mary moved to Ft. Wayne in 1988, she worked at Allen County Area III Council On Aging, Lindenwood Cemetery and Scott Bakery until she retired. She continued to be active in her church at Lake Avenue Church of the Nazarene, where she met her second husband, Rev. Alexander ‘Sandy’ Ardrey, Minister of Evangelism. Mary was 73 years old when she and Sandy eloped to be married on March 26, 2003. They joyfully served in ministry together at River Haven Church of the Nazarene, where Sandy was interim pastor, and in the outreach Dare-To-Care Ministry, (founded by Sandy) that reached over 4,000 churches in 40 countries.
In 2008, the Ardreys moved to San Angelo, TX to be closer to Sandy’s family, due to his failing health. Mary faithfully attended to Sandy and also became a compassionate volunteer visitor at a local nursing home. After Sandy’s death, Mary moved to Illinois in 2012, to be near her daughters. She thoroughly enjoyed her 6 years living at Independence Village in Rockford, IL, where she taught various craft classes and became Village Ambassador to assist new residents, for 5 years. She suffered a stroke in July 2018, and consequently moved to Valley Hi Nursing & Rehabilitation in Woodstock, IL, where she received excellent, compassionate care and lived out the remainder of her days.
Mary was an outgoing, courageous, joyful, caring, encouraging, and adventuresome woman. She loved to spend time with her family, read, travel (Canada, Jamaica, Norway, Russia, The Bahamas), sing, tat (hand-made lace), garden, play piano/organ, complete jigsaw puzzles, Wonderword puzzles and various crafts. She also enjoyed learning about God through personal Bible study, leading Bible studies and prayer, to strengthen her faith. Mary made it her mission to try to brighten everyone’s day, with a friendly smile, a cheerful greeting, a warm hug, an encouraging note, a funny joke or a humorous story. On occasion, she dressed up as “Bubbles” the clown and made huge bubbles to entertain children or the residents at her apartment complex. Mary believed each person’s name and his/her birthday was very important. Countless persons received various forms of her creative birthday greetings and notes of encouragement.
Mary’s life was filled with triumphs, challenges, and adventures. She pursued life long learning and wanted to experience something new every year. For her 87th birthday, her daughters took her zip-lining, which she thoroughly enjoyed! Just prior to Mary’s stroke, plans were under way for a skydiving adventure. She would often say, “I never have a dull day”. Always diligent in her work, Mary’s energy, upbeat, encouraging attitude and her laugh were a joy. Her greatest joy was to share the love of God with others – children, families, individuals, the sick, lonely and the hurting, via her exuberant personality, using the talents, gifts, skills and resources that God gave her. Mary will be greatly missed by her family and all who were touched by her life.
Mary was predeceased by her parents: Clarence and Beulah (Ayen II) Erickson; mother & father in-law Isaac & Tillie (Otilda Vamstad) Berg; husbands: Donald I. Berg and Alexander ‘Sandy’ Ardrey; brother Leif D. Erickson; niece, Karyle E. (Erickson) Johnson; sister Thelma I. (Erickson) McKenzie and step-son Donald W. Ardrey.
She is survived by: son, Nolan (Tara) Berg (TX); daughters, Natalee Berg (John B. Donovan) (IA) and Donna (Todd) Hall, (IL); 7 grand children, 6 great-grandchildren; sister-in-law Ellen (Cox) Erickson; 11 nieces/nephews, their families; Robert (Mary Beth) Ardrey (VA), Kenneth (Brenda) Ardrey (KY), Carolyn (Tallman) Ardrey (LA), Ruth (Mark) Pridgen (UT); 10 grandchildren, their families and many ‘adoptees’.
A Celebration of Life is being planned for Summer 2021.
Arrangements are being made by Saether Funeral Service. www.saetherfuneralservice.com (608) 523-4247.
Memorials may be directed to:
Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation www.alzheimersprevention.org
American Stroke Association www.stroke.org
Condolences may be sent to Mary’s family at:
C/O Donna Hall
Marengo-Union Funeral Home
505 E. Grant Highway
Marengo, IL 60152
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