Mary Antonia Johanna Pietz, 98, St. Cloud
November 10, 1919 - October 8, 2018
Friends and family are invited to gather from 9 a.m. to noon on October 12, 2018 at the Williams Dingmann Family Funeral Home in St. Cloud to remember Mary Antonia Johanna Pietz who died at home on October 8, 2018. Reverend Dee Pederson will lead a memorial service at 11 a.m. Interment will be at a later date at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery, Little Falls.
Mary was born on November 10, 1919, in Scottsbluff, NE, to Johanna (Janesovsky) and Henry Claus Dierks. Johanna died a month later, and Mary was raised by Johanna’s sister Antonia and John Stibor primarily in Scribner, NE.
After graduating from Scribner High School, Mary attended Midland College in Fremont, then University of Nebraska School of Nursing in Omaha where she earned her diploma as a Registered Nurse in 1941. She worked as an RN at what is now the University of Nebraska Medical Center until enlisting in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps; as an Ensign, she served from April 1943 to March 1945, first in San Diego, then overseas at Aiea Naval Hospital on Oahu, Hawaii. She had to resign her commission to marry Reuel Henry Pietz, (then Lt. USMC aviator) on February 8, 1945 in Jacksonville, FL. They raised a son, Eric Henry, and a daughter, Pamela Jo, mostly on Marine Air Bases across the country (CA, NC, NE, HI, VA, CA, NE, NC) before settling in St. Cloud, MN, in Dec. 1964, when Reuel retired from the Corps and began teaching in the Geography Dept. at St. Cloud State University. Mary, who had worked as an RN in FL (1945-46) and NE (1961-62), took a position at St. Cloud VA Medical Center. During her 17 years there, she helped develop the Outpatient Clinic and various outreach programs.
Mary served in many organizations, e.g., President, Navy & Marine Officer Wives of Oahu, Hawaii; cub scout den mother; SCSU Faculty Wives and Women Assoc.; Northern States Amateur Field Trial Association; St. Cloud Country Club Board; and was a member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. She was a great hostess, from parties for Reuel’s Marine squadrons, SCSU Geography Dept. gatherings, to meetings of the MN Grouse Dog Association.
A talented athlete who enjoyed competition, she won countless awards in skeet, tennis, golf, and bowling. A lifeguard in her teens, she taught both her kids to swim and took them to the beach or pool throughout their childhood summers. She served as a field trial judge, as well as Reuel’s assistant dog trainer, and rode horses all her life. She played tennis into her 80s, and golfed and bowled into her 90s.
Although Mary made every place we lived a home, she relished putting down roots at long last when she and Reuel build their ‘retirement’ home (1966-67) in view of the Mississippi River in the St. Cloud Country Club area. She mowed the lawn into her 80s, and tended her gardens into her 90s. She loved nature and encouraged birds and other wildlife to enjoy her yard.
Mary led by example in myriad ways: universally compassionate, humble, courageous, creative, an environmental steward, education advocate, and inspiration to women of all ages. She had a great sense of fun, loved to dance, loved to laugh (who can forget that laugh?!), and will be missed by all her family and friends.
Mary is survived by her children Eric (Kathy) and Pam. She was preceded in death by her husband of 63 years, Reuel (Sept. 3, 2008), her parents, and siblings Adeline, Everett, and Denver Dierks, and Irving Stibor.
Very special thanks to home care lovingly provided by SPOT Rehabilitation and St. Croix Hospice. In lieu of flowers: memorials to UNMC College of Nursing Innovation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Tri-County Humane Society, American Bird Conservancy, or a charity of your choice.