My sister Mary…
Mary Agnes Moran Hays was born on a Sunday, April 23, 1939, the daughter of George Lawrence Moran and Marie Christine Vogel Moran. She would live with her parents on the family farm of (160) acres located (5) miles south of the town of Lohrville, Iowa. Mary Agnes was the first child born to Lawrence and Marie and from that day forward would remain the apple of her father’s eye.
In the year 1939, LaGuardia airport opened in New York City. The average wage per year was $1,730 with a gallon of gas costing (10) cents. The classic movies, Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz were released.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was serving as the 32nd President of the United States and in that year of 1939, President Roosevelt decided that businesses should be allotted more time between Christmas and Thanksgiving to encourage holiday shopping, so he moved the Thanksgiving holiday up one week. But George A. Wilson, the governor of the state of Iowa, stuck with the traditional date, so in essence there were two Thanksgiving holidays to celebrate that year. Obviously, there were many things to celebrate in 1939, but also grave concern, due to the outbreak of the second World War beginning in Europe; a global war that would last until 1945.
But for Mary Agnes, her life was on a positive path. She was named after both of her grandmothers and even as a baby brought much needed joy to the Moran household. Mary Agnes’s grandfather, Bernard Moran, was also living with the family and was not in the best of health. Nothing can bring a smile faster than having a baby enter a room. So for the first (16) months of her life that’s what Mary Agnes did, brought happiness to her grandfather until his death in August of 1940.
Mary Agnes would share her childhood home with a cousin, Tommy O’Keefe, who joined the family in 1942, at the age of eleven. A brother, Leonard, in 1944; a sister, Cecilia, in 1948; and youngest brother, Duane, in 1954. Mary Agnes’s position in the hierarchy of the Moran siblings never wavered. She was always at the top and the Sunday “egg money” would confirm that position just in case anyone had any doubts. Now, for the record, Mary Agnes enjoyed hearing the following story as much as we loved telling it. Sunday mornings in the Lawrence Moran family meant being up and dressed for Sunday Mass with part of the routine being a stop on the way at a neighbors farm to deliver farm fresh eggs. Payment was made in cash; thus the money was termed “egg money”. But after Mary Agnes finished high school and left for school, there was one minor adjustment. The “egg money” was now divided with half going in the collection plate for God and the other half sent to Mary Agnes. Now, I am not saying Mary Agnes was on the same level as God, but she would always remain further up the ladder than the rest of us… forever and ever, Amen!
Even in that farming community, when helping your neighbor out at any time was common, there was always plenty of seasonal work to do. Planting and harvesting of crops, tending to the livestock and maintain a garden of epic proportions, whose bounty was essential for their livelihood. There was no way Mary got out of doing some chicken chores, walking beans or pulling weeds in the garden. She de tasseled corn when she was older and for one summer, for sure, lived with a family with (7 or 8) children to help out.
One of my favorite Mary Agnes stories, took place on a Sunday afternoon. It seems she wanted to go with a girlfriend to the neighboring town of Lohrville. No vehicle was available, so Mary without hesitation, jumped on the John Deere B tractor and headed down the gravel road. She did make it to her girlfriend’s house and they managed to get to Lorhville. Mary Agnes returned home at a top speed of approximately (10) miles per hour and covered a distance of close to (15) miles but made sure to be back in time for chores.
In 1954, when Mary Agnes was a freshman in the Lorhville school district, there was a question posed in the Hi-Life, the school newspaper. The question was, do you think girls should wear blue jeans to school? Two of the answers included:
(1) “No, because I think girls should be more feminine.
(2) No, because wouldn’t it look funny if the boys came to school with skirts on?”. Well, Mary Agnes was comfortable either in a skirt or a dress, or in her blue jeans and believed at the age of (15) and for the rest of her life, just as Susan B. Anthony did, that every woman should have a purse of her own. That a purse symbolized independence and being able to take care of herself and to have her own money.
To that end, Mary Agnes graduated with top honors from the Lohrville school district in 1957. She attended St. Joseph’s (3-year) Nursing Program in Sioux City, Iowa and there too graduated with top honors and accolades. Years later, Mary Agnes continued her education with additional achievements at Arizona State University. After her graduation from nursing school, her first job was with a dermatologist in Sioux City. Despite enjoying her job and being close to friends and family, Mary sought an adventure. She packed up her Iowa roots, family memories and traditions and waved goodbye to knee-high corn and snow drifts. In fact, it may have been one of those Iowa blizzards, that buried her car when en-route back home after a sunny Arizona vacation, that confirmed she WAS NOT destined to remain in the Midwest.
And so a new chapter of her life would begin and she would eventually end up in Phoenix, Arizona after a short stop in Tucson. Forever an Iowa gal, her heart now belonged to Arizona.
At this time, we all tried very hard to transition from Mary Agnes to simply, Mary. Why? Because Mary had met Bob Hays who preferred calling her Mary. Bob, the love of her life, was big. He was tall with big arms for hugs, a big laugh and a big heart; they were a perfect couple. They enjoyed each other’s wit, respected each other’s accomplishments, loved the warmth and sun of Arizona, enjoyed dancing and movies together and most importantly enjoyed each other’s company. And so in October of 1965 they were married.
4125 East Roma became the Hays’ family home for many years where family traditions and memories were made. The Hays family was blessed with daughter Karen in 1967 and son Kevin in 1970. The back yard swimming pool, the grade school within walking distance, and grandmothers (Ruth Hays and Marie Moran) provided stability and home cooking over the years while Bob and Mary pursued their careers.
Mary would call back to Iowa once a week or so to update us on all the happenings in Arizona, including school activities, sports events and projects the kids and grandkids were involved in, an overall picture of how things were going. Mary was fiercely proud of her family and all their accomplishments and truly enjoyed family times together. She believed in each one and encouraged their pursuit of individual goals.
In 1994, daughter Karen blessed the family with their first grandchild, Dillon, thus the start of one more chapter in their lives. Kevin’s blessing arrived in a pink blanket in 2003, and was named Victoria. Mary knew she was lucky to be able to marvel and brag about her grandchildren and once again, more card games and family dinner celebrations created lifetime memories in the house on East Roma.
Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it. In all probability, Mary’s car could have driven on its own to Scottsdale Memorial Hospital. Mary’s position and her success over the years in her nursing career were driven by her passion for good patient care and respect for the individual. She surrounded herself with talented and strong people and encouraged their participation, rewarded their hard work and dedication. Combined with her sense of humor and wit, it was a winning combination.
Mary Agnes Moran Hays was strong without being overbearing. Self-confident based on experience. Undaunted based on self-resolve. She pulled strength from her family roots and Catholic faith. Found inspiration and love from her husband, her children and her grandchildren. Mary appreciated a good meal, enjoyed an occasional adult beverage, delighted and cheered on her favorite sports teams and relished in a good game of cards. She was determined, not ruthless–well, maybe a little when she played cards. Mary took no prisoners. She liked to win.
We will miss you Mary. Thank you for all the positive examples in your life that have reflected back in our lives.
As your little sister, always looking up to you and your magical life, I had always hoped that some of your “pixie dust” would float down and settle on me. Peter Pan said “All it takes is faith and trust…oh and something I forgot; “dust”, a little bit of “pixie dust”. You, Mary, taught me that “pixie dust” was believing in oneself, and those words are truly magical.
With love from your sister,
(Cee) Cecilia Moran Gentry
My sister Mary…