Mary Agnes Trauscht
Thursday, December 13, 1928
Date of Death:
Monday, February 6, 2023
94 years old
Mary Agnes Trauscht
Our Mother Loved Fireworks!
If Mary Agnes McClory Trauscht, followed a traditional path in her life, for a woman of her generation, then we would tell you only the following:
She was born on December 13, 1928, to William and Mary McClory, their first and only child. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, in a tight knit community of family and friends in St. Ann’s Parish, Mary Agnes was brought up with a strong sense of her Irish roots and the Catholic Church.
She attended Catholic grade school and high school on Chicago’s south side and in an era, when college was not an option for young women of modest means, had a maiden aunt sponsor her continuing education in Minnesota, where her family had roots with branches settling earlier in both Northfield and St. Paul.
Mary Agnes graduated from the College of St. Teresa, in 1950 with both English and Teaching degrees and Winona is where she met the love of her life, Bob Trauscht who also was born and raised on the south side. Bob used to joke that he met Mary Agnes after asking the Dean of Women at CST for a list of all the girls who lived on his streetcar line in Chicago. Throughout her life, she loved keeping in touch with the close friends made during her years at CST.
Married in 1951, Mary Agnes and Bob settled down to apartment life in Chicago where she got her first teaching job. Her career was short lived as she welcomed her first child in 1952. She later worked as a substitute teacher, bridal consultant, and editor of the church bulletin at their parish in Palatine, IL.
Mary Agnes eventually had 5 children, 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. Her grandchildren gave her a new lease on life, and she adored each and every one of them. She often remarked that as the size of her ‘brood’ grew, she was in awe after growing up an only child.
After the death of her beloved Bob, in 2016, Mary Agnes moved to Madonna in Rochester, MN. She said it was like living in a dorm again. She loved her life at Madonna and made many new friends and kept busy volunteering, running the book club and of course, keeping up on local politics. She was a lifelong Democrat and never missed voting in any national election, all the way up to the end of her life.
Mary Agnes’s entire family thanks the staff at Madonna for the wonderful care provided in both Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing units, as well as the Seasons Hospice staff. Their loving care provided comfort, not just for Mary Agnes but her family.
Preceded in death by husband Bob, parents Mary and Bill, and son-in-law David Jewison. She is survived by children Mary Pat Jewison (David), Bob Trauscht (Anne), Beth Trauscht-Laursen (Jim), Suzy Trauscht and Tom Trauscht (Lynn)…..and of course her legacy of 11 grandchildren, David Jewison (Angie), Rob Trauscht (Abbie), Amelia Rutter (Matt), Mike Jewison (Anne), Elise Trauscht-Graham (Phil), Pat Jewison (Kyunga), Max Rutter (Lauren), Jake Trauscht (Molly), Cara Trauscht, Jaclyn Trauscht (Harris) and Ryan Trauscht and 9 great-grandchildren, who will sorely miss her.
If Mary Agnes, had lived her life in a ‘traditional’ role, then the preceding snapshot of her life would suffice for summarizing her 94 years, but our mother was anything but traditional. Mom wasn’t always easy, but she was always interesting and sometimes struggled to overcome the demons that occasionally haunted her life. Following are things about our mother that made her especially human and shaped those of us that knew and loved her best.
- Her love of reading was a lifelong passion that she passed on to her children and grandchildren. There was no topic or genre that she couldn’t find something of interest in…history, biography, fiction, non-fiction, and her beloved mysteries. There was no topic she couldn’t speak to on some level as she had ‘read something, somewhere at some time.’
- And she was a storyteller and not above ‘embroidering’ a story to make it better. On her last Christmas she told a version of a family story, we’d heard 100’s of times, with a brand-new context and details….editing to the end.
- Our Dad would give her a subscription to the Arlington Heights library for her birthday every year and later we would give her a subscription to the New York Times for her birthday. She always said the NYT had the best written obituaries.
- To say Mom was a news junkie, would be putting it mildly. We grew up in a house that received morning, afternoon, and evening newspapers every day, as well as the Southtown Economist and Palatine Herald weeklies, not to mention Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, The Atlantic, The New Yorker and too many other publications to list. And she read them all.
- When cable television introduced the 24-hour news cycle, it was as if she had found Utopia. BUT always MSNBC and CNN. Anything that smacked of Fox news was entirely off limits. She often said, and only half-kidding, that our dad’s hospital roommate, who played Fox news with the volume turned up high, is what killed him.
- Our Mom was passionate about politics, and she always leaned to the liberal side of the aisle. The year she and our dad were married, she voted for Stevenson and dad voted for Eisenhower (only time he ever voted Republican) which for their generation, was highly unusual. With every presidential election that ushered in a Republican administration, our poor father would have to listen to the litany of threats about ‘selling the house and moving to Canada.’ (She’s sitting in heaven with our dad right now saying it’s the continuing threat of Trump running again that finally killed her!)
- Those of us closest to her mourn not only the loss of our mom but of her vote.
- Mom suffered from severe bouts of depression and anxiety, throughout her life. She was a product of her upbringing, and the miracle is that she was able to overcome it and have her own ‘Renaissance’ during the years that her grandchildren came into her life. Just as WWII brought America out of the depression, I believe Watergate brought our mom out of one of her longest bouts of depression. She liked to brag that she was on Nixon’s enemies list because of the telegrams she sent to the White House demanding his resignation.
- Our Mom hated cooking (and her efforts reflected it) and we all have our favorite stories of our least favorite dinners offered up with reminders of all the starving people in China. ‘A little guilt, never hurt any child’ was one of her favorite sayings. She had a cartoon on the refrigerator when we were growing up (she loved cartoons, especially political ones) that said: ‘my favorite dinner recipe is take out.’
- But her grandkids loved spending time at her house and not for the meals but the MOVIES. She loved good movies and just like with good books, insisted that she share her favorites with those she loved. Mel Brooks was a special favorite and none of us will ever be able to watch Zero and Gene Wilder, in The Producers, without thinking of our mom…..and which of her grandchildren will ever forget the first time they saw The 12 Chairs with Gramma? ‘Hope for the best, expect the worst!’ And those of us that had to take the grandsons home that memorized the dialogue from The 12 Chairs…..that’s another topic.
- Mom didn’t teach long but she had a real understanding of the limitations in the educational system caused by bureaucracy. During her substitution days at Morgan Park, she was tasked by the school board, with teaching her high school English class with Shakespeare. Many of these students, had been ‘left behind’ and were reading at grade school levels. Knowing the challenges of this task, she approached the administration and tried to argue changing the curriculum, but the answer was a resounding ‘no.’ So she bought Classic Comic book versions of the Shakespeare curriculum and got through the unit and probably proved a point to 1 or 2 in the class. If you take out all the ‘thees and thous’ in Shakespeare, you have some pretty good plots that include, murder, ghosts, mistaken identities, and lots of mayhem.
- She was not intimidated by technology and mastered micro publishing software during the years she edited the parish bulletin. When she began to realize that her grandchildren were no longer answering emails in a timely fashion, she learned to text to keep in touch and it kept her ‘connected’ to us all as she grew older. It was the quieting of her texts, last fall, that signaled her final decline.
Years ago, when still living in the house in Rolling Meadows, mom pronounced one 4th of July that, she wanted this written on her tombstone: ‘My Mother Loved Fireworks.’ Not sure where it came from or whether she remembered years later that she had even said it. Was it a metaphor for her life or her own ‘Rosebud’ moment, like in Citizen Kane? We’ll never be able to ask her now but as each of us gets used to life without her, I think I’ll hold onto the thought that my mom did love fireworks.
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