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Mae Viginia Simonson


1925 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Mae Viginia Simonson Obituary
Mae Viginia Simonson

Mae Simonson, 91, died Thursday, November 3, 2016, in the loving care of Avera Bormann Manor in Parkston, South Dakota, after a life well lived. A memorial service celebrating Mae's life will be held on Thursday, November 17, at the Salem United Church of Christ in Parkston. Visitation will be at 6:00pm with a 7:00pm service following.

Mae was born to Swedish immigrants Robert and Marie Simonson on September 30, 1925, in Los Angeles, California. At two years old, Mae's mother was diagnosed with tuberculosis and died when Mae was a teenager leaving her in the care of her carpenter father and older siblings Ruth and Milton. Mae adored her brother and credits him with teaching her as a young teen the art of driving and how to navigate the busy streets of LA.

Los Angeles was home for Mae, and it was from her parents and the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, with its Swedish foundation, that Mae's faith grew. She laughed about attending a church prayer meeting at church when she was seven days old. She experienced early on that Jesus Christ was real, and her life would become one of loving and giving to others. Her church forever shaped her life with its great music, joy, fellowship, and love.

Mae graduated from Franklin High School in 1943, then moved to Chicago where she attended Swedish Covenant Hospital graduating in 1948 with a nursing certificate. She would later complete her BS Degree in Nursing from the University of Southern California, after which she worked briefly for the military Flying Tiger Airlines helping to transport troops needing care.

Mae's career in nursing was short as she always had a heart for kids, and said she herself was simply a "kid at heart." She moved to Springfield, Massachusettes, where she worked as youth director at the Springfield Covenent Church. She obtained a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut and went on to work in the public school system as a counselor and then on to serve as Director of Social Services at the Covenant Children's Home of Cromwell, Connecticut. Her counseling style was loving yet directive, and to some of her kids, she would always be "Mom." Whether she was meeting with a family in crisis, sawing a tree trunk at a summer festival, driving with the convertible top down, or skating with the children at the roller rink, Mae's outgoing personality always conveyed that she loved children and their parents and was willing to do whatever necessary to bring healing and hope into troubled lives. After 10 years at the children's home, Mae returned to the public schools where she again worked as a counselor until her retirement.

When Mae turned 65, she took on a part time job as counselor at the Covenant Church in Springfield. In this loving, caring, singing community she again thrived. Here she found herself being the chairman of the mission committee, reaching out to neighborhood youth, driving her convertible filled with young people, enjoying ice cream at Friendly's Restaurant, loving Monday game night and Wednesday soup night, and singing with the Springfield Gospelaires. She was always looking for anyone who needed a friend, home, food, clothes, a job, and especially love while sharing the hope found in following Jesus.

Throughout the years, Mae had a real passion for music. It was always an expression of her deep love for Jesus and allowed her to use the gift of a beautiful alto voice to bring harmony throughout her life. She started singing at her sister Ruth's wedding and would continue to sing solos, in groups, and with her women's quartet the LA Carillons, performing in LA, Chicago, and the East Coast. She helped develop a youth choir and produced a particularly good CD with her friends, the "Garry, Mae, Jim Trio." Throughout her final years, her music was a special source of peace and joy, and she never tired of her favorite song "On A Rugged Hill."

At the age of 79 while wondering what to do next with her life, a clear thought hit her: "You are going to Parkston, South Dakota, to live with God!" So in October of 2005, Mae drove into Parkston in her Sebring convertible - her grey/white hair flying, the music turned up, and the top down! As she stood in the living room of her new apartment, looking out the window, she saw across the street the tower on a church with the cross of Christ on top. Each morning looking out, it confirmed to her that she was right where she was supposed to be. Mae brought all her fun, humor, and love to Parkston, and yes, her treasured convertible! She made so many friends and saw the greatness of God's plan for her unfold in Parkston. Her desire was to be "salt and light" for His glory. Sitting around the table one night, Mae said: "As in the beginning of my life and as today, my desire is to please, enjoy, and praise my very faithful God, who has done far more than I could ever ask or think in sustaining me and caring for me!" Today she is where she always longed to be - in heaven with Jesus! She left her mark on us all! We love you, Mae.

Mae is survived by family and friends, too numerous to mention, across the country; her nieces and nephews: Ginny (and Jon) Mitchell and Carolyn Larson of Parkston; Bill (and Kathy) Barram of Colorado Springs; Steve Simonson of Rockville, Maryland; and Wendy Simonson of Colorado Springs.
Published in The Argus Leader on Nov. 13, 2016
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