Mary Sells, 1921-2011, Rest In Peace
Mary Hohnke Sells died on a Monday afternoon on the last day of February, 2010 in her home in Fargo, ND. She had just turned 89 years old on the 18th of February. She passed away peacefully in her sleep during an afternoon nap, having been tucked in by her daughter-in-law earlier that day. She’s survived by her son J. Michael Sells, her daughter-in-law Charlene Schreiber, her grandson Chris Sells and granddaughter-in-law Melissa Plummer and her two teenaged grandsons, John Michael Sells and Thomsen Frederick Sells. She was the last of four siblings; John, Shirley and Jim have all gone ahead of her to prepare the way.
Mary died a much beloved mother, grandmother and great grandmother as well as a dear friend to most everyone she met. She was generous of spirit, baking and cooking for her friends and family almost right up until the day she died, making sure her loved ones stayed plump in her love. She was talented in the kitchen, keeping her family recipes close to her heart for only those most special in her life. She was also a mischievous soul, taking advantage of her quick mind and her family’s sympathy for her ailments in later years to cheat outrageously at games of all kinds.
Mary was born in 1921, making her a child of the Great Depression. She graduated from Fargo’s Central High School in 1940, after which she pursued a course of study in Radiology Technology. She attained her national certification in 1946 and held it for 60 years. She married her late husband John Dickenson Sells in 1946, being secretly thrilled but outwardly scandalized when he insisted on public displays of dancing and other such tom-foolery. John worked for the Northern Pacific Railway and Mary worked in multiple clinical locations as she moved with her husband to sites ranging from North Dakota to Washington state. Her first child, Mike, is 61 and a successful draftsman at a local civil engineering firm. Her second child, Gretchen, died when she was only 15 in 1969, taking some of the light from Mary’s eyes. Her husband John was soon to follow, dying in 1971 of complications following gall bladder surgery.
None of this stopped Mary from living her life, however, having gone to Seattle in 1978 to be closer to her sister Shirley and to follow her career, then moving back Fargo in 1983 to be with her son and grandson. Before her move to Seattle, Mary helped take care of her grandson during the summers when he would visit. She was a second mother to him, doting on him and spoiling him thoroughly his whole life with food and attention. Till the day she died, Chris was her “baby boy,” in spite of his age of 41 and his height of 6’5”.
Mary was a member of the Mecca Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star and received a 50-year membership acknowledgement for her many years of service. She was a life-long member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, an active member in the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a church quilter for most of those years. Mary was also an active member of PLS and enjoyed those friendships immensely.
Later in life, when her sister Shirley was diagnosed with cancer, Mary and she, both in their 70s, made sure that Shirley’s “bucket list” was fulfilled, which included wine tours, roller coasters in Las Vegas and even, for Mary, an incident on a tipped raft in the Rouge River in Oregon. She lived a full, rich life on her own terms, never shy about what she wanted for herself and others, and always ready with advice, wanted or not.
Mary died in her own home while she still had the faculties to interact with the ones she loved, as she wanted. She will be deeply missed and felt daily in the hearts and minds of those she left behind.