Mary Ann Utterback, 95

Mary Ann Utterback, age 95, moved to heaven, Thursday March 26, 2020 at the New Hampton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center with her family by her side.

A private family service will be held 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 31, 2020, at the Hugeback Johnson Funeral Home and Crematory in New Hampton with Rev. Willy Mufata from First United Methodist Church presiding. PLEASE JOIN THE FAMILY TUESDAY AT 11:00 A.M. VIA FACEBOOK LIVE ON THE HUGEBACK JOHNSON FUNERAL HOMES FACEBOOK PAGE. Private interment will take place following the service at the New Hampton City Cemetery. Online condolences may be left at

If so desired, memorials may be made to the New Hampton Music Program or the First United Methodist Church.

Mary Ann Utterback was born on Dec. 4, 1924, to James Roy and Lillie (Spaete) Nilges in Jefferson City, Missouri, where her father ran a shoe factory. The family later moved to Kirksville, Missouri, where Mary Ann graduated from high school. She attended business school and took a job in St. Louis, and one night, she went on a blind date with a young man named Robert Utterback, who was smitten with Mary Ann from the start; in fact, he proposed to her that night and her response was “we’ll see.” The two corresponded with each other while Robert served his country, and when he returned, the “we’ll see” turned into “I will.”

Mary Ann and Robert were married on Aug. 11, 1946, at the United Methodist Church in Kirkwood, Missouri, and the new bride encouraged her husband to take advantage of the G.I. Bill and go to school and study music. While her husband attended Truman State College, Mary Ann worked as a secretary and helped her husband write his papers and work toward his degree.

After Robert graduated, the Utterbacks moved to Iowa, where Bob first taught at Waverly-Shell Rock and then moved to New Hampton, where he was the high school band director for 35 years.

Their family grew as time went on with the birth of their children — Robert Jr., Judith, David, Kathleen and Scott — and they remember their mother as a woman who knew the value of hard work, was a wonderful cook, had a huge garden and was careful with her family’s money. Mary Ann expected her children to work, and all of them recall that garden and the sound of the pressure cooker in their house as mom canned and prepared a winter’s worth of food. On Saturday mornings, if the kids weren’t up, she’d remove the sheets from under them but the tradeoff was pretty good because Mary Ann made the best-ever cinnamon rolls.

The Utterback children also fondly remember “movie nights” on Saturdays when Mary Ann would pop the popcorn, and the five children would share a 16-ounce Pepsi. Today, they recall a childhood in which their parents never fought, never drank and never cussed.

She loved to return to Missouri to visit her mother in Jefferson City at Christmas and during the summer when her children were younger, and they remember packing a cooler with baloney sandwiches so they’d have enough to eat on the road. Later in life, she was a wonderful grandmother and great-grandmother.

She worked for more than 30 years as a secretary at Supersweet Feeds in New Hampton, yet always found the time to support her husband and her children, put a delicious meal on the table, darn socks, wash clothes, hang them up on the line, mend clothes, cut and/or perm hair and all the other things that made for a wonderful home. She was a longtime member of the First United Methodist Church and participated in numerous church activities.

Mary Ann also was one of the most tech-savvy 90-something-year-olds you would ever meet. She had a passion for Bridge, and if she couldn’t play “in person,” she’d play it on her iPad. She kept track of her finances on Quicken and used a Kindle to read her books.

In 2015, her husband of 68 years passed away, but Mary Ann kept going, and when she moved into Kensington Place in August 2018, she made new friends and found Bridge players who loved the game as much as she did.

In so many ways, she was an amazing woman who lived a life of wonderful example to her family and friends. Although her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will certainly miss her, they are grateful that she is now reunited with Bob, the man who wrote a song years ago, called it “It Happened on a Blind Date” and dedicated it to this remarkable woman.

She is survived by four children, Judith (Alan) Hewitt of Tulsa, OK, David (Terry) Utterback of New Hampton, Kathleen (Bob) Ayers of New Hampton, Scott Utterback of Davenport, IA; ten grandchildren; eighteen great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, one son, Robert Utterback Jr.; daughter-in-law, Debbie Utterback; two brothers, James R. Nilges and Robert B. Nilges.

New Hampton Tribune

10 North Chestnut Ave
New Hampton, IA 50659
Phone: (641) 394-2111

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