In 1926, Mary Ellen Dalegowski was born at home on a farm in rural Nebraska to Robert Wilson Thomas and Levena (Stonecypher) Thomas. She was the third of six children. From first grade on, Mary and her siblings walked 6 miles round-trip each day to attend a one-room school house. There was a stable at the school house and during the winter they rode a plow horse. She was the only student in her high school graduating class. During her senior year of high school at the age 16, WWII was raging and teachers were in short supply. At the request of the local Nebraska school district Mary attended Wayne State Teachers College where she was awarded a teaching certificate. Upon graduating from high school and with a teaching certificate in hand, Mary began what would ultimately become a long career in education, teaching in rural Nebraska schools for the next three years.
When the war was over, and having read many Zane Grey novels, Mary came to Flagstaff to see Arizona and the Grand Canyon. She met her husband, Stanley Dalegowski while staying at the Kimble Boarding House (where Wheeler Park is now) and they were married in 1946. They purchased land from an old homesteader, and together working side by side over the years, built a home in Doney Park. She lived there continuously for more than 72 years.
While raising five boys and helping her husband run an auto repair business, Mary attended Arizona State College (now NAU). She received BS and MA degrees in education, graduating with honors (Phi Kappa Phi). From 1965-86, Mary taught in the Flagstaff Unified School District teaching fourth grade at Kinsey, Emerson, Marshall and Christensen Elementary Schools, positively touching the lives of many students. She retired in 1986 to spend more time with her husband and grandchildren, and was an avid gardener, reader, and long-time member of Kappa Delta Pi. Mary was a strong, loving, and caring wife, mother and teacher, who loved children. She emphasized independent thinking, honesty, and working hard. Her ability to connect with students to motivate their interest in learning was an inspiration to others.
Mary was preceded in death by her husband Stanley, and her oldest son Robert (Bob). She is survived by her sons Gary, Stan (Patty), Tim (Tracy) and Randy (Selinda). She has 5 children, 5 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild. She was 92.
In accordance with Mary’s wishes, there will be no formal service or ceremony. If Mary touched your life and you would like to honor her, please consider a donation to the Olivia White Hospice Home in Flagstaff, Arizona.