Mary Garland Weidner Sorensen was born Sept. 14, 1919, in Maitland, Mo., to James Lesley and Nellie Arterburn Weidner. Mary passed away Saturday, May 3, 2014, in the presence of her loving family.
Mary attended grammar school in Maitland and high school at North Central High School in Omaha, Neb.
As a young girl, she read novels by Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour and dreamed of meeting a cowboy and living in the "west." While visiting her sister in Las Vegas in the spring of 1941, that cowboy came riding into her life. Dick Sorensen was in town with the Flying U Rodeo Company, providing stock for the Helldorado Rodeo, and seemingly fate brought them together. After a two-week courtship, Dick proposed and shortly Mary followed him to Idaho, where they were married in the Bonneville County Courthouse on May 27, 1941.
She immediately went from "city girl" to ranch wife. Dick and Mary lived at the Sorensen ranch in the basement of the old Camas Schoolhouse (which was the only building standing at the time) with Dick's parents and younger siblings with no indoor plumbing or electricity.
Around 1942, with gas rationing in place due to the war, the Sun Valley Resort needed a cowhand who could handle a six-horse hitch to drive the stagecoach from the train station to the lodge. Dick went to work for the Sun Valley Company and they moved to Sun Valley, where Mary worked at the Sun Valley drugstore and skeet field. The family has enjoyed many entertaining tails from their time spent in Sun Valley.
As the war escalated, Dick was called to serve in the U.S. Army. Mary followed him to Virginia for basic training and Dick was deployed to the South Pacific. Mary stayed in Virginia and worked for the War Department while Dick was overseas.
With the war over, Dick and Mary returned to ranch life at Camas and started their family. Mary raised four children, tended a garden, cared for orphaned calves and bum lambs, cooked for hay crews and was acting Postmaster at Camas. Mary also was employed for a few years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sheep Experiment Station outside Dubois.
In 1961 the Sorensens moved to Roberts, Idaho, to a 300-acre ranch, where they continued to raise Black Angus cattle. Dick also worked security for the Atomic Energy Commission. During this time, Mary worked as a medical secretary for P. Blair Ellsworth, MD, General Practice, in Idaho Falls until Dr. Ellsworth retired. Mary not only enjoyed the medical aspects of the job, but was truly fulfilled by her interaction with the patients.
In 1974, Dick and Mary sold the ranch in Roberts and built a new home in Milo, where they resided until 1984. While residing in Milo, Mary worked for the Farmers Home Administration and later EG&G.
After Dick and Mary retired, they again picked up stakes and moved to Island Park, where they built a cabin in the Shotgun Valley. Dick and Mary were avid snowmobilers during the winter and took four-wheel adventures in the summer. They enjoyed entertaining friends and family in their mountain retreat.
Mary was very artistic. She enjoyed pencil drawings and over time developed her skills with pastels and oils. Mary spent many hours painting landscapes of the mountains and wildlife that she loved so dearly.
For health reasons, Dick and Mary returned to Idaho Falls in the fall of 1987 and sold the cabin in Island Park. Mary lost her cowboy Sept. 13, 2011. She resided in Idaho Falls in the family home until January 2014, when she became a resident of the Fairwinds Retirement Community.
Mary loved people and everyone who met Mary loved her. She had a sweet nature and exuded a disarming naiveté.
During their younger years, Mary and Dick enjoyed dancing and spent many evenings at American Legion Dances or at the Elks Club, enjoying the music and each other's company. Mary had a song in her heart and on her lips for every occasion.
Mary is survived by her children, Darrell Gene (Ruth) Sorensen of Versailles, Ohio, D.J. "Rick" (Paula) Sorensen of Roberts, Susan Rebecca Sorensen (Gary) Crowe of Sun Valley, Idaho, and Mary Ann Sorensen Koester (Ken Hoskin) of Las Vegas; seven grandchildren, Lalanya Sorensen, Wesley Sorensen, Taylor Sorensen, Drue Crowe, Will Crowe, Kellie Koester and Kacie Koester; and four great-grandchildren, Brogan, Brannock, Beckett and Lilly Sorensen. She is also survived by her devoted Miss Kitty.
Friends are invited to celebrate Mary's life at a gathering to be held Thursday, May 8, at Eckersell Memorial Chapel, 101 W. Main St. in Rigby. The family will receive friends for viewing and visitation from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., followed by a short service at 2 p.m. Interment will be at Annis-Little Butte Cemetery in Annis, Idaho, immediately following the celebration of life and service. Services are under the care of Eckersell Memorial Chapel in Rigby.
The family requests donations to the Wounded Warrior Project in lieu of flowers.