Mary Geraldyne Severance Rivard died at 90 years of age, Monday, July 13, at her home in Glenwood City, Wis.
She was born April 7, 1925, in Casper, Wyo. On November 24, 1946, Mary was married to Richard Pierre Rivard.
Educator, artist, mother: Mary’s family and friends knew her by the name of Bona; her students at New Richmond High School coined the name Mart – Mother of Art – and it persisted throughout her teaching career.
In midlife Mary received a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Art Education at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She taught at St. Croix Central Schools and New Richmond High School. She also enjoyed those years by traversing the globe with her husband Richard, when she was not teaching in the classroom, or by spending time with her family.
Earlier in her life, she and Richard raised seven children. She was a devoted homemaker and sewed most of her children’s clothing: coats, pants, dresses, trousers and shirts. She was skillful with her hands and rendered everything with a loving, artistic flare. While raising a family, she devoted time to community organizations such as the Glenwood City Women’s Club, where she was a member and officer, and the American Legion Auxiliary Post 168, of which she has been a member since 1956. Mary also served as a den leader with the Glenwood City Cub Scout Pack.
In addition to her own family, Mary gave much to others. She and Richard brought Beverly Bosinski into the family as a foster daughter when she was a young teenager and raised her as their own. Mary also provided her expertise as a sponsor, mentor, and counselor to many youth to whom she opened her heart and home.
Her love of, and devotion to St. John the Baptist Catholic Church was always front and center. She dedicated years as choir director, spending hours designing and creating banners, vestments and baptismal gowns. Mary worked tirelessly on these creations, lending her well-known skills and artistry to the beauty of St. John’s.
Mary and Richard lived at their home on Emerald Road for more than 50 years, a home that was always welcome and open to friends and neighbors. They built and rebuilt the home through the years with Mary overseeing much of the work at what became known as one of the most eclectic and inviting homes of the area. Not only did she and Richard utilize their love of Americana and folk art to fill their home with unique and beautiful antique art and furniture, but they also took their collecting passion to a whole new level.
During that time, Mary and Richard boldly went where not many had gone before. While they collected old furniture, they delved into the antique building collection business. Mary, with pleasure, set to decorating with antiques an old log cabin, a one-room gas station that they converted into a chapel, and a Crane Town Mill building she used as her antique store. Upon retirement, the antique business became Mary’s passion and livelihood.
In 1997, Mary and Richard sold their home on Emerald Road and moved to a new residence on Limberg Court, high above Glenwood City. They also spent several winters living in south Texas just miles from the Mexican border. Mary loved those years living in the warm climate among friends and within close proximity to the Mexican culture.
One post-retirement hobby that interested Mary was her family genealogy. In a household where the French Canadian heritage held center stage, Mary diligently went about searching her own background. Through the Internet she found her Severance family roots, which go back to the first immigrants on the North Shore of Massachusetts. The Bryans, on the maternal side of her family, were the first pioneers in Vernon County, Wis., in the 1850s.
It is an understatement to say that Mary had a full life. While she gave so much to the community and her career, it was her family that was the center of her life. She was even surrounded by family and friends up to the day she passed away. While her earthly journey has come to an end, we expect she is well on her way to her newest level. We miss you, Bona, knowing you have left ‘a certain extension of your life in the lives of others.’ Rest in Peace.
Mary is survived by seven children, Richard Andre, Glenwood City, Roland J., Madison, Michelle Heiting (William), Stillwater, Minn., Louis H. (Jill), River Falls, Francis X., Menomonie, Georgianna Rivard Bravo, (Boris), Storrs, Conn., and Raymond T. (Lorraine Hoster) Arbor Vitae; one foster daughter, Beverly Finn (Gene), Sycamore, Ill.; one brother, Tim Jensen, Spooner; 15 grandchildren; four foster grandchildren; three foster great-grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Georgiana Olofson Severance Jensen and Francis F. Severance; stepfather Clifford Jensen; her husband, Richard P. Rivard; brothers, John Severance and Hans Jensen; one sister, Frances E. Loomis; two infant children, Peter and Thomas; and one foster grandson, Brian Finn.
A memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m. Aug. 15, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Glenwood City. A visitation will be held at 9:30 a.m. before the Mass at St. John’s. Interment will take place following the Mass at St. John the Baptist Cemetery, Glenwood City.
A gathering and luncheon will be offered at the Glenwood City Community Center.
In lieu of flowers, the family would greatly appreciate your contribution to the Mary Severance Rivard fund at the St. Croix Valley Foundation. Visit http://www.scvfoundation.org/give-now/mary-severance-rivard-fund/.
Anderson Funeral Home, Glenwood City, is assisting in funeral arrangements.