Mary Billmeyer

Mary Billmeyer



Mary Billmeyer, age 87, of rural West Union, IA, died on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018 at Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital in West Union, IA.

A Celebration of Life was held Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 at Schluter-Balik Funeral Home, Chekal Chapel, in Fort Atkinson with Rev. Don Best presiding. 

Mary Margaret Billmeyer was born on Oct. 3, 1931 the daughter of T.R. and Grace (Winter) Alton in Hawkeye, Iowa.  

She graduated from Alpha High School in 1947. 

Mary’s teen years (in Alpha) were spent assisting new mothers with Doc Friehle and tending the family cattle. Her remaining hours of the day were in Grandpa Winter’s grocery store (currently Alpha Tap), fighting off banana spiders and tending the pickle barrel.  

Sometime after her graduation from Alpha High School, the Alton family moved to Auburn down the road from her future husband. They met one day on that road as he was on horseback, galloping by her so fast that she fled to the safety of the ditch. 

She married William “Buddy” Billmeyer on March 4, 1951 at Mary’s home, rural West Union.  Together they had three children, Marlys, Lynn and Diana. 

After their marriage Bud was drafted into the Army, and he and Mary were stationed in South Carolina for training.  Mary was employed by the Quatlebaums in their adhesive tape factory and made long-lasting friends.  

Back from Army deployments and discharged, they returned to Iowa to a life of farming and childrearing.  With three girls tagging along, Mary performed farm chores while storytelling, teaching, and comforting. 

Whether cutting firewood, milking cows, or throwing hay bales, she could be found alongside her husband. 

Then the family business transitioned to maintaining county roads, and Mary’s contribution in keeping equipment records for the county road crews was extremely valuable.  

Her many talents and sharp intellect made her excel at many things. In her youth she loved school, choir, drama, art and drawing, fashion design, and illustration. As a homemaker she loved cake decorating, photography, sketching, and was a great seamstress.  Her energy and strength made her a great wife, mother, and, a master gardener that provided nearly all the family sustenance. A keen artist’s eye enabled her to fashion clothes for her daughters, and her knowledge of grammar was only exceeded by her modesty and kindness in not correcting the rest of us. 

After a bad fall at home, her last days were spent recovering at Maple Crest Manor, where she found loving care from all the staff. She missed all her neighbors and friends around Auburn and West Union who looked out for her, but she found a ready companion and roommate in Leona Streif.  

In summary, the family can only relay Mary’s own sentiment: “Don’t overdo this.”   

Mary is survived by her daughters, Lynn Papp of Rockford, Ill., and Diana (Kevin) Langreck of St. Lucas, IA; a sister, Lois Pape of West Union, IA; sisters-in-law Ellen Ruroden of East Dubuque, IA and Marjorie Degner of Traer, IA; a son-in-law, Tony Wheeler of Auburn, IA; many nieces and nephews.  

Mary was preceded in death by her husband, William “Buddy” Billmeyer; her parents, T.R. and Grace (Winter) Alton; a daughter, Marlys Wheeler; a sister, Ruth (Milton) Stevenson; brothers-in-law Everett Pape and Homer Degner; her father- and mother-in-law, William and Marjorie (Ash) Billmeyer.     49u49


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