Mary Louise (Fairchild) Plautz

Mary Louise (Fairchild) Plautz

Mary Louise (Fairchild) Plautz

Iowa City

Mary Louise (Fairchild) Plautz was lifted to her Lord on Oct. 5, 2022.

A funeral service will be held Saturday, Oct. 15, at 1:30 p.m., at Zion Lutheran Church in Iowa City, Pastor Jennifer Lutz presiding. There will be a light reception at the church directly following the service. A visitation will be held at Zion Lutheran Church one hour preceding the funeral. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Hancher Circle Fund or the Macular Degeneration Clinic at UIHC, both in care of the University of Iowa

Center for Advancement,

1 W. Park Road, Iowa City,

IA 52242.

Funeral services also will be held at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17, at St. John’s Lutheran in Hannibal, Mo. Visitation will be from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., prior to the service. Burial will be at Grand View Burial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Luther Manor Nursing Center in Hannibal or the Hannibal Concert Assn.

Born in Rembrandt, Iowa, on Jan. 1, 1922, the first child of Enos Fairchild and Bessie (Shaffar) Fairchild. Mary Lou, the eldest of six, had many responsibilities on the farm, and found joy in music and reading. Singing became a theme with her father’s violin. She met her sweetheart, Ralph Albert Plautz, when the mothers conspired their meeting over a cup of borrowed sugar. A perfect match, they performed in the school musical “She Loves Me.” Mary Louise graduated from Milford High in 1939, and earned a full vocal music scholarship at Morningside Music Conservatory in Sioux City, Iowa. Uniquely gifted with the ability to sing high notes with incredible tone, she was an understudy for the star, Lily Ponds! Graduating in 1943 with a B.A. in Music Education (later earning two Masters in Music and Reading), she conducted a boys’ choir in Coon Rapids, Iowa. She and Ralph wed on July 29, 1945, after he graduated with a Masters of Divinity from the St. Louis Seminary. They were called to Pittsburgh, Pa., to start a mission church, beginning in their home. As the congregation grew, they built a new church, Pilgrim Lutheran. She rode the streetcar to the radio station to sing with the Bill Armstrong Band. Their three children were born, and were soon given the nickname the “singing family,” as Mary Lou taught her children to perform on family records, sent as holiday greetings in Terril, Iowa. Ralph was called in 1956 to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hannibal, Mo. Mary Louise was a seventh-grade Reading/English teacher and choir director. She also was a member of the chorale, “Evening Etude.” Her creativity extended to antiquing, sewing the latest fashions for her children, her home, Ralph’s Lenten costumes, and dresses for weddings. Mary Lou and Ralph were quite a team. They were Community Concert Association leaders, and passionate creators of Luther Manor Residential Senior Care Facility. Many travel experiences started with a gift from the church to the Holy Land. Tragically, Ralph passed in 1975. Her faith and grandchildren were her stronghold. In 1979, she began anew as the founding director of the Arts Education Outreach Program for the University of Iowa. It was the nation’s benchmark, encompassing all the Arts, and collaborating with Iowa Writers Workshop, Hancher, and the U of I Dance and Arts. She brought acclaimed artists to approximately 100,000 people of all ages and abilities each year. Backstage with Issac Stern, she said “I’m so glad that I lived in your lifetime.” He replied with a hug, “That’s the nicest thing anyone has said to me.” She was honored with multiple awards, from the governors of Iowa, and U of Iowa President. She truly was a visionary and leaves her legacy of love for the arts. She treasured making memories with her Iowa City family, like getting treats at the Cottage, and attending their school functions and concerts. She adored all of her grandchildren, and their special time together. Her entire family felt joy to hear her impromptu concerts in her living room, singing renditions of songs like “Jesus Loves Me.” She lived her life like her favorite hymn, “Take My Life and Let it Be.” She is singing in Heaven’s beauty, with radiant love from God.

Mary Louise anchored her faith in God to persevere through her medical challenges.

Our family extends gratitude for the loving and dedicated care by Noel and the caretakers who brought cheer to our Mother, sweet Grandmother “Lou.” We thank Creative Care, Superior Care, Iowa City Hospice and Avalon Hospice.

Mary is survived by her daughters, Rebecca Louise (Douglas) Pedersen and Gloria Jeanne Plautz (John) Thomas; daughter-in-law, Gayle Elizabeth Plautz; brother, Estel Fairchild; brother-in-law, Keith Bridson; grandchildren, Rachel (James) Watson, Erin (Joel) Huggins, Jason Plautz, Melissa Plautz, Sarah Plautz, David (Paige) Plautz, Emily (Matt) Hedberg, Justin (Julie) Pedersen, Kathryn (Jacob) Smith, Scott (Rachel) Thomas, April (Justin) Stolberg and Robyn (Steve) Murphy; 26 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Ralph; son, Daniel; siblings, Leila Jean, Daniel, Robert and Phyllis; and an infant granddaughter, Beth Ann.

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