We are sad to lose our mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and friend, Mary Lou. Ninety-two years young, she was always seeking to learn and grow. Mary Lou played a big part in our lives – three daughters, twelve grandchildren, twelve great-grandchildren. She was always present, cherishing every moment, full of pride and admiration for every one of us. She instilled in us the importance of education, love of travel, and devotion to family. She had a self-deprecating humor about her, but we remember her most for her loving nature and adventurous spirit.
Mary Lou was born February 20, 1928, to Emily and Arthur Sjoholm in South Chicago Heights, the second of three girls. Mary Lou was bright and energetic albeit shy. After excelling in high school (Bloom Township, 1946), Mary Lou was accepted with a scholarship into Monmouth College to pursue the field of Chemistry, very unique for a woman of those times. Each semester was a financial struggle to continue but her mentor, Professor ‘Doc’ Thiessen, insisted that she had the ability and helped her find a way to finish. She achieved her BS in Chemistry in 1950 and landed a job as an analytical chemist at Argonne National Lab. There she met her future husband, Everett, also a chemist, and they began their dating on the golf course. According to Mary Lou, Everett had to marry her as she was the only witness to his hole-in-one. They were married in 1954 for 53 years until Everett passed away in 2007. They built and resided in their house on Stough Street in Hinsdale, where Mary Lou lived for over 60 years.
Soon after marriage, the happy chemists had three daughters – Barbara, Carol, and Gail - very close in age. Mary Lou became a stay at home mom for their early years but returned to the workforce once Gail was in grade school. She was a substitute teacher while she accumulated some teaching credits to then become a grade school special ed teacher. She earned her Master’s in education from National Louis University in 1978 at age 50. She later moved into the classroom, teaching first and third grades for a number of years until she retired in 1988. After retirement, she continued teaching part-time at the College of DuPage.
One of Mary Lou’s passions was traveling. She tediously planned a vacation every summer for our family. She routed us by planes, trains, and automobiles all over the United States; we covered 45 of the 50 before the kids finished high school. She had a passion for nature and geology and her highest priority on our vacations was visiting the National Parks; in 1971 we toured eight of them in one trip out West. For Everett, we stopped at every Civil War battlefield in our path.
Once retired, she branched out to world travel and toured over 40 countries in far-reaching places, from Norway to New Zealand to Chile. She traveled to every continent, reaching the last one, Antarctica, on her 70th birthday. On many of her trips, she took her bicycle and rode hundreds of miles in the beautiful nature she loved. When asked, she would tell you her favorite trip was her safari in Kenya.
After retirement, Mary Lou continued her favorite pastimes – golf, bridge, biking, and cross country skiing. She got the golf bug from Everett and played well into her 80s. She played bridge until she was 91. She also enjoyed volunteering for Meals on Wheels and the Hinsdale Community Services, among other charities. She enjoyed being a part of Downers Grove Friends of the Library and gave many travel talks in libraries and retirement homes.
Mary Lou was our treasure and inspiration for loving life. We will miss her dearly and hold her in our hearts forever.
Beloved mother of Barbara (James) Kurley, Carol (Stephen) Peterson and Gail Miller (James Wagoner). Dear grandmother of Sarah (Joel) Simon, Emily Peterson, Benjamin (Lindsay) Wagoner, Sarah Kurley (Kevin Wild), Rebecca (Ray) Baker, Matthew Kurley, Jesse (Rachel) Wagoner, Carey Wagoner (Serena Dimattia), Joseph Peterson (Rose Albert), Kaitlin (Will) Vandenberg, Eric Miller and Jillian Peterson (Mike Koziol). Adored great-grandmother of Eli and Henry Simon, Fiona Prince, Noah, Claire and Isabel Wagoner, Colin and Eleanor Wild, Grace, Maeve, and Patrick Baker, and Vivian Wagoner.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Mary Lou’s and her family’s favorite charities – SIDS of Illinois (sidsillinois.org), Special Olympics of Chicago (sochicago.org), and the Northern Illinois Food Bank (solvehungertoday.org).
A memorial service will be held in the summer when we can all be together.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Lou Rauh, please visit our floral store.