Mary Kay Polashek  June 14 1959

Mary Kay Polashek June 14 1959November 21 2022

Browse the obituary of Mary Kay Polashek June 14 1959 November 21 2022 residing in Ames, Iowa for funeral burial details. Write a message of sympathy or a last tribute to perpetue the friendship thread

June 14 1959 November 21 2022
Obituary Please share a memory of Mary to include in a keepsake book for family and friends. View Tribute Book Early Monday morning, November 21, 2022, Mary Kay (Pershern) Polashek died in her sleep at home. She persevered through two years of neurological disease, teaching her students and supporting her family through the very edge of human possibility as her physical abilities waned. Mary Kay was much more than one-dimensional, but let this brief essay of her musical career serve to illustrate her depth as a musician, educator, mentor, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. A life-long educator, Mary Kay could not recall ever imagining an occupation other than teacher. Perhaps fortuitously, Mary Kay attended Mrs. Medlin’s Musical Kindergarten, in College Station, Texas, where she lived with her parents and three siblings while her father, Frank, matriculated to Texas A&M for his doctorate in building construction. In fact, Mary Kay remembered nothing musical about it, but her kindergarten diploma has been an enjoyable conversation piece ever since. Mary Kay’s musical education really began with her mother teaching Mary Kay to play piano. An accomplished pianist as well as nutritionist and homemaker, Anita Pershern called instructions to Mary Kay from the kitchen as Mary Kay sat at the piano in the living room. The unconventional approach was nevertheless very effective, so much so that Mary Kay became the choir accompanist in high school. Having moved by 2nd grade with her family to Menomonie, Wisconsin, in 5th grade Mary Kay added violin lessons to her education program. Her first violin teacher was Sister Ambrosine, who taught Mary Kay on the second floor in the convent across the driveway from St. Joseph elementary school. After a year or two, Sister Ambrosine sent Mary Kay on to Professor Rupert Holman at UW Eau Claire for more advanced lessons. Despite the fellow’s penchant for smoking and snacking on crackers while instructing, Mary Kay continued to progress. Musical progress was boosted by Mary Kay’s attendance at Arrowhead Music Camp, where the faculty included Beatrix Lien. Beatrix invited Mary Kay to study with her at St. Olaf College. During her senior year in high school, Mary Kay’s father drove her regularly from Menomonie to Northfield. Mary Kay treasured the travel time with her dad, as well as the lessons, and ended up choosing to attend St. Olaf and continue studying with Dr. Lien. Mary Kay was thrilled to finally attend a school that had an orchestra program, and what an excellent orchestra St. Olaf college had and still does. She treasured many memories of great performances and rehearsals with the orchestra and conductors Donald Berglund and David O’Dell. In addition to annual regional tours with the orchestra, Mary Kay enjoyed an orchestra tour to Sweden and Norway. Those exceptional tours primed the expectations Mary Kay had for orchestra tours of her own, and her students reaped the benefit of that foundational experience. Mary Kay’s student work assignment as orchestra librarian was also excellent experience that paid continuing benefits. In addition to her violin studies, Mary Kay had piano, organ and voice lessons and sang in Manitou Singers her freshman year and Chapel Choir for three years. Though she began college with ideas of double-majoring in music and mathematics, Mary Kay soon decided to focus on music education, which was plenty challenging and intensive, so much so that the program required a ninth semester to fit in student teaching in orchestra, choir, and general music. Mary Kay completed her K-12 student teaching in strings, general music, and choir in St. Louis Park, Minnesota in December, 1981 after graduating St. Olaf College in May, 1981, and began her teaching career substitute teaching in the Minneapolis area. She started her first regular teaching job by taking over 6th grade general music and 8th grade required reading from a third-trimester retiree at Lakeville, Minnesota middle school, in February 1982. After finishing the school year there, and marrying her college boyfriend, Emil, Mary Kay interviewed for four orchestra teaching positions, and accepted the offer from the one furthest away from home: the Missoula, Montana elementary school district. Mary Kay played violin in the Missoula Symphony during the year in Missoula. The year in Missoula was quite an adventure, with many positive experiences, but the onset of an allergy to an invasive plant species, as well as dangerously high levels of particulate during atmospheric inversions in the valley, prompted a second job hunt, which resulted in a full-time high school orchestra position at Badger High School in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. There, in addition to the large orchestra ensemble, Mary Kay taught a select ensemble, Bach group. One semester, the Bach group was short a violist, so Mary Kay sat in to complete the instrumentation. While Mary Kay had played viola in her string methods classes, she had used the approach many violinists use of simply pretending to being in third position on the violin while reading music, rather than truly learn viola clef. Playing regularly with the Bach group not only taught Mary Kay to be comfortable with viola clef, but also that she really enjoyed playing viola. Mary Kay played violin and viola in the Kenosha Symphony and played piano and organ for Sunday Mass at Saint Francis in Lake Geneva. After four years in Lake Geneva, Mary Kay was surprised by the new school district superintendent’s decision to reduce funding for the orchestra program, despite it having remained strong under her care. The reduction led to a third teaching job search, which brought her to Ames in August, 1987. The new job, to say the least, was challenging. Mary Kay would be teaching in three elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school. When she interviewed, only nine students were signed up for orchestra at the high school, and by the time classes began, only seven students were in the ensemble. The middle school numbers were similarly low, but elementary participation was good, and a group of string education supporters in town had lobbied to hire a new full-time orchestra teacher. Their expectation and hope for growth was well met by Mary Kay. While the High School numbers did not increase that first year, neither did any of the enrolled students drop. Conversely, Mary Kay’s cheerful and encouraging presence at the Middle School helped the enrollment leap ahead as students cajoled classmates to return to the program. Similarly, elementary program enrollment increased, and retention improved. Her successes were lauded by being awarded Iowa String Teacher of the Year (the Bruce Eilers Classroom Teacher Award) in 1991. More than just numbers, string program growth was also identified and aided by preparation of small ensembles for numerous community engagements, as well as maturation of the large full orchestra into repeated engagements as the musical anchor of the Ames High School baccalaureate celebration. Long story short, Mary Kay graduated her elementary job in 1998, eleven years after arriving in Ames, and graduated the middle school to become full-time high school six years later, in 2004. String player enrollment having held steady at around 80 string players in the high school for several years—too many to squeeze into one rehearsal room, especially when winds joined—Mary Kay added a freshman ensemble in fall 2010. Along the way, Mary Kay was elected and served a term as President of Iowa String Teachers Association. She served two terms as Iowa All-State Orchestra chair and served on the Iowa All State Music Festival 75th Anniversary committee. She long served as board member and president of the Ames Children’s Choirs. She served many years as librarian of the Central Iowa Symphony. Having taught in Ames 35 years, Mary Kay was several years at the top of the teacher seniority list when she entered medical retirement in February, 2022. Generations of students benefitted from her love of music, teaching, and students, not least of which are her own four children, all of whom played in her orchestra, one of whom is a professional violinist, and another of whom is in his third year of teaching his own middle school orchestra in Dubuque, Iowa. Mrs. Medlin can be proud. She is survived by her husband Emil and their four children: Hannah and husband Andrew Brehmer of Abrams, Wisconsin; Caleb of Ames; Jotham and wife Lydia (Pakala) of Dubuque; Isabel and husband Ayden Pugh and their son John Paul of Winterset. She is likewise survived by brothers Andrew of Divide, Montana; Peter and Michael of Menomonie, Wisconsin; and sister Susanna of Morrison, Colorado. Visitation will be held from 4:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, November 22, 2022 at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church, where there will be a Vigil Service held at 7:00 P.M. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 A.M on Wednesday, November 23, 2022 at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church. Additional visitation will be held from 9:00 A.M. until 10:45 A.M. on Saturday, November 26, 2022 at the Ziemer-Moeglein-Shatava Funeral Home in Gilbert, Minnesota. Burial held at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday in the Gilbert Cemetery in Gilbert, Minnesota. Mary Kay’s Vigil Service and Mass will be livestreamed and a link will be available on the Tribute Wall of Mary Kay’s obituary on the Adams Funeral Home website. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of the Adams Funeral Home and online condolences may be left for Mary Kay’s family at Memorial donations may be made to either of two destinations: The Mary Kay Polashek Student Scholarship Fund through or to the St. Cecilia Church renovation fund. To send flowers to the family of Mary, please visit our floral store. Read more

Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Mary Kay Polashek June 14 1959 November 21 2022.

Adams Funeral Home

Death notice for the town of: Ames, state: Iowa

death notice Mary Kay Polashek June 14 1959 November 21 2022

obituary notice Mary Kay Polashek June 14 1959 November 21 2022

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