Mary Arvilla (1922 - 2021)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Luchterhand, Barrett, Beasley, Kuhlmann, Hansen, Whitbeck, Peissig, Gustafson, Petersen, Acker
----Source: Maurina-Schilling Funeral Home (Owen, Clark Co., WI) 10/17/2021
Luchterhand, Mary Arvilla (26 February – 9 October 2021)
Covid-19 claimed the life of Mary Arvilla Barrett Luchterhand the evening of October 9, 2021. A memorial service is planned for June of 2022.
Mary was the 7th child of James and Lola Barrett, born February 26, 1922. She had three brothers and five sisters growing up on a small farm three miles north of Owen. She attended Hixton Heights and Hoard Center Grade Schools, then Owen High School before enrolling in Central State Teachers’ College in Stevens Point. Two years later she had her first job, teaching all eight grades at the Forest Grove Grade School in Taylor County. Mary met her husband, Emil, when he visited the family home on September 16, 1942. They were married by a judge in Stevens Point on November 4 of that same year and remained happily together until Emil’s death more than 55 years later. Mary and Emil worked as a team when they fought corruption in the county highway department, drove slot machines from Wisconsin, helped organize the Marshfield chapter of the United Nations, participated in the University of Wisconsin Great Decision Debates, and helped organize the Clark County Democratic Party. They dumped milk during the 1960’s NFO Milk Withholding and refused to sell cattle or calves during the Beef Withholding. Neither of them ever crossed a picket line.
They raised four children on their farm six miles west of Unity. Mary went back to teaching in 1958. She taught three years at Oak Grove Grade School in Clark County, followed by several years teaching in the Head Start Programs in Miladore and Marshfield. She attended night school and summer school to first get her bachelor’s degree, and finally her master’s degree in education in the fall of 1975. The Marshfield School District was pioneering an Early Childhood with Disabilities program and Mary became the first instructor of such a program in the State of Wisconsin. Her fierce advocacy for children with disabilities and her implacable thirst for knowledge about children’s behavior fueled innovation in her classroom and caused her to design and teach parenting classes. The UW-Stevens Point recognized her as “The Outstanding Practitioner in the Field of Special Education in the State of Wisconsin” in 1981, and she was recognized as the ‘Outstanding Teacher of the Year’ in 1986. Mary helped found the Clark County Page Forward Literacy Program in 1994 and led the organization for several years. More recently, she was astounded by the number of people purposely ignoring or denying factual information during the pandemic and wrote an editorial declaring those individuals are part of the problem.
Mary had boundless energy. She found time to be active in Democratic politics, serving as a delegate to district and state conventions and campaigning for Democratic candidates. She fought for passage of the Women’s Rights Amendment to the constitution, joining the march on Washington in 1989. It was a routine practice for her to accost anyone demonstrating chauvinism in actions or words.
Mary was active in UW Extension Homemakers and the Wisconsin Teacher’s Organization on a local and state level. Her hobbies were diverse and included acting with the Show Case Players, golfing, bowling, square dancing, reading and cross-country skiing to name a few. Above all she loved her family, regularly calling, texting and facetiming them with her iPhone.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Emil; her three brothers Rolland, Jim and Bryce; and four sisters, Ivis Whitbeck, Opal Peissig Gustafson, Juanita Pedersen and Barbara Acker. She is survived by her sister, Beatrice Hansen; sons Kubet and Bryce (Maxine); daughters Kathrene (John) Beasley and Debara Kuhlmann; eight grandchildren and thirteen great- grandchildren.
The family requests donations can be made to Mary’s favorite charity, Doctors Without Borders, in lieu of flowers.
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