Mary Anne (Stephenson) Lovdahl, 94, Gilbert, AZ (formerly of Lynn Center, IL), passed into the
Lord’s hands on Monday, June 13, 2022 at her home.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 AM on Saturday, August 20, 2022 at Augustana Lutheran
Church, Andover, IL. Following the funeral and graveside service at Andover Cemetery, a
luncheon will be served in the church’s Luther Hall. Reverend Reed Pedersen will be officiating.
Peterson Wallin Knox Funeral Home in Alpha is assisting the family with arrangements
There will be no visitation but in the spirit of Mary Anne – her family welcomes the loved ones
who can’t make the service (or even if you can) to an open house at her home in Lynn Center
between 4-7 PM on Friday, August 19, 2022. For all gatherings, please follow recommended
Covid protocols to ensure the safety of yourself and others.
Mary Anne was born on November 25, 1927 in Moline, IL to Franklin and Mina (Wendell)
Stephenson. As an only child, she adopted many school friends as lifelong “sisters”. She
graduated as valedictorian from Alpha High School and was a driving force behind their class
reunions for the next 70+ years. At the age of 14, she met the love of her life, Carl Oliver
Lovdahl. They had their first date on September 25, 1942 during a freak snowstorm that made
national headlines. Snowflakes held a special place in her heart forevermore. After Carl’s
discharge from the service, they married on March 6, 1949 at Augustana Lutheran and were
together 61 happy years. He predeceased her on August 22, 2010.
Mary Anne’s first job was a secretary at Bituminous Insurance where she said that she lived in
Moline, worked in Rock Island and spent her money in Davenport. After marriage, Mary Anne
held what she regarded as her favorite job, working as a secretary for the Andover Children’s
Home. “It was never boring!” In 1957, she abruptly switched directions needing to care full
time for her mother until Mina’s death in 1968. However, Mary Anne kept her skills sharp by
writing secret lists in shorthand, typing dozens of letters a week and frequently assisting Carl at
his place of employment. In South Bend, IN, she worked as an administrative assistant at Holy
Trinity Lutheran until retirement. Later, as a winter visitor, she worked at Arizona State
University in the temporary secretarial pool.
Mary Anne and Carl lived in Illinois until the birth of their only child, Frances Marie. Carl took a
position with Norden Laboratories in order to put “food on the table for his new family”. Over
the next 21 years, this successful decision saw them relocate to Columbus, Louisville, Memphis
and South Bend. Upon retirement, they returned to their farm in Lynn Center. They wintered
in Arizona and in California joining their daughter and son-in-law, Unni Sreekumar. In 2018,
Mary Anne and her beloved cat moved to an Independent Senior Community in Arizona. After
a worldwide pandemic made everyone reset their priorities, she (and Peanuts) moved in with
Unni and Frances in 2020.
An avid and dedicated volunteer, Mary Anne passionately supported her churches. While she
started and ended as a member of Augustana Lutheran – she and Carl were also members of
Good Shepherd in Louisville, Living Word in Memphis and Gloria Dei in South Bend. In every
church and in every state, she was active and involved from everything to running Luther
Leagues, hosting international families, serving WELCA, participating on church councils and in
women’s circles, representing her church at synod conventions along with many other
She was a dedicated “home room mother” at Frances’ schools in addition to being an active
volunteer for the Girl Scouts including the dreaded “cookie mother” job. She regularly visited
nursing homes and adopted many of those residents as second parents. In Louisville, she
hosted a polling place in their garage. As a couple, all volunteer organizations gained a
“twofer” with both Carl and Mary Anne – they supported county and national veteran’s
organizations, local civic and philanthropic groups and community hobby associations such as
the Edwards River Antique Engine Association. Over the years, she also hosted and organized
many family reunions.
Carl and Mary Anne enjoyed traveling throughout the US and internationally. After their trip to
India, they developed a slide show which was presented to many local groups but never to their
kids! Mary Anne had a lifelong passion of baseball and college basketball. She loved watching
Carl play, they had season tickets to U of L and Notre Dame basketball and in later years
enjoyed spring training in AZ. Mary Anne loved to read often staying up until the middle of the
night to finish the latest in a favorite mystery series. She also was a dedicated newspaper
reader and collector and frequently made “baby books” for friends and family.
With a huge collection of cookie cutters (100s!), Mary Anne was known for her knack with
“peppar kakor” (Swedish ginger cookies) and her rusks (hint – the secret is orange peel). She
and Carl enjoyed entertaining and always had the coffee pot on for all visitors. Mary Anne
loved the Christmas season usually having more than 5 trees in the house. Every year she
baked a birthday cake for Baby Jesus and sang, “Jesus loves the little children - All the children
of the world - Red and yellow, black and white - They are precious in His sight - Jesus loves the
little children of the world”.
Although they only had one daughter, Mary Anne and Carl had lots of kids. They were adopted
as parents/grandparents of the heart to dozens of families worldwide. Their son-in-law was a
son from the start. She delighted in embarrassing him by taking pictures of Indian food in
restaurants and was especially lethal on his sunny side up eggs destroying all yolks because
they are “staring at her”. But the most important thing to know about Mary Anne is that she
cared – ALL THE TIME. She started (and ended) many conversations, “anything else I need to
know?” That was translation for “anyone need a call, a letter, a hug, a prayer or a shoulder?”
Or maybe we should say, “she didn’t care” – she couldn’t care less where you were born, the
color of your skin, where you worshipped or who you loved. All that ever mattered to her was
your heart and your kindness to others.
Mary Anne is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Frances and Unni Sreekumar, Gilbert, AZ
and her sister-in-law, Anna Lovdahl, Monmouth, IL, 8 nieces and nephews, and honorary “kids”,
Pat and Maria Smith, Crestwood, KY, Joe and Janneane Veger, Rochester, IN, Theresa Harvey,
Gilbert, AZ, and Donetta Cederberg, Galesburg, IL along with SO MANY others who will miss
their loving aunt, second mom, beloved Godmother, honorary grandmother, special neighbor
Mary Anne is preceded in death by her husband, her parents, and her “close as siblings”
cousins, Ed and Frances Riley. She is also preceded in death by her second family, her parents-
in-law, five brothers-in-law and four sisters-in-law who she loved very much along with
countless relatives, friends and neighbors who will welcome her with a loving embrace.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that memorials be made in Mary Anne’s name to
Augustana Lutheran Church, Andover, IL (www.andoverlutheran.org) or Lutheran Social
Services of the Southwest (www.lss-sw.org). Mary Anne was extremely passionate about their
humanitarian efforts aiding the children at the border. In the spirit of Mary Anne, we also are
collecting donation items for the Orion Food Pantry and Rock Island Animal Shelter at both the Celebration of Life and the open house.
Saturday, August 20, 2022