Mary was born Friday, Oct. 13, 1922, in Cherokee, the daughter of Irving and Elizabeth (Jenkins) Sage. She always considered 13 to be her "lucky number" because of her birthday.
She attended Immaculate Conception Grade School in Cherokee, and graduated from Wilson High School there with the class of 1940. Having entered kindergarten at the age of four, she was only 17 upon graduation, and thus had to wait a year to enter nursing school per the program's requirement that one be 18. Therefore, she spent a year working at the Public Library in Cherokee under the auspices of the WPA, but had her trunk packed for her much anticipated trip to nurses' training.
She graduated from St. Vincent's nursing school with the class of 1944, and due to the labor shortages caused by World War II, traveled to California with her best friend and nursing school roommate Marjorie "Toby" (Tobin) Murray, (now of Colorado Springs, Colo), to work in a short-staffed hospital in Los Angeles for several months, having some of the most fun times of her life.
She had planned to become an Army nurse with Toby, but upon her return to Iowa, Frank "Red" Becker asked her to be his wife instead. They had met in Sioux City at a dance at the Air Base Mary attended during nurses' training as Red was working at the Base in support of the war effort. Ironically, Red was from Maryhill, about 12 miles from Mary's home in Cherokee, but they never met until both were in Sioux City during the war. They married June 13, 1945 at the Immaculate Conception Church in Cherokee, and then moved to Le Mars where Red had his J.I. Case farm implement business, Becker Farm Equipment.
When her children were young, Mary worked nights as a "private duty nurse," a service by which families would hire a registered nurse to care for and sit with the hospitalized critically ill and dying before the days of today's intensive care and hospice services.
After losing her husband to a heart attack in 1968, Mary turned to geriatric nursing, a specialty that she loved, and to which she was well suited, with her patient loving and caring ways. Again, she was there for many families in the last hours of their loved ones lives. She worked at the geriatric unit of the "old hospital" until it closed, and also worked both at Brentwood Good Samaritan Center and Plymouth Manor for many years. She was the director of nursing at The Abbey of Le Mars in the mid to late 1970s as well. She was a wonderful compassionate nurse, and her career as a nurse was a real calling for her, as was her career as a mother.
She was a long standing member of St. Joseph Catholic Church and Catholic Daughters of the Americas.
She also belonged to the American Legion Auxiliary, and through the Legion's "Toasty Toes" program for years proudly knitted warm bed socks for those serving abroad. She loved knitting and crocheting, and made at least 50 afghans in her lifetime, including ones for each of her children and grandchildren, along with lots of baby booties, sweaters and mittens for those she loved.
She also loved animals, and for many of her latter years shared her home with her special cat "Ebby" whom she also called "Lovey" because he was so dear to her. She also had many dear longtime friends and neighbors in Le Mars who were especially supportive of her in her final years.
She is survived by children, Betsy Carlson and her husband, Scott, of New Brighton, Minn., Frank and his wife, Pat, of Nipomo, Calif., Cathy Steele of Wylie, Texas, Jim and his wife, Liz, of Omaha, Neb., and Teresa and her husband, Dan Krommendyk of Sioux City. Also surviving are her grandchildren, Margaret and Tom Carlson, Sara Becker, Suzy Sittig and her husband, Paul, Emily Becker, Eileen Becker, Alissa Long and her husband, Justin, Ashley Steele and her wife, Rebecca Brooks, and Joseph and Katie Becker. Mary was also overjoyed to welcome her first great-grandson Andrew Sittig, in August this year. She also is survived by many nieces and nephews. As well, she is survived by her dear friend Marilyn Hoffman, whom Mary considered to be the sister she never had.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Frank; and her only sibling, younger brother, James Sage.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Le Mars. The Rev. Kevin Richter will celebrate. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Le Mars. Visitation will begin at 2 p.m. today (Thursday) at the Mauer - Johnson Funeral Home in Le Mars with a rosary at 4 p.m. led by the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. The family will be present from 6-8 p.m. with a scriptural prayer service at 7 p.m. There will also be one hour of visitation at the church prior to Mass on Friday.
Expressions of sympathy may be directed through www.mauerjohnsonfh.com.