Mary Elizabeth Mruzik nee Werner
Born: June 10, 1917 at home in Nebraska City, NE
Passed: April 27, 2011 at home in Pacific, MO
Mary Elizabeth was born as the second of three children to Max Harrison and Mary Francis Werner on “8 ½” Street, Nebraska City, Nebraska. Nebraska City is a small town on the edge of the prairie with a stable population of about 10,000 isolated by miles of surrounding farmland. It fosters an inward looking self-sufficiency and a love of writing and reading of the wider world. In St. Louis, she loved the small towns of Eureka and Pacific and Affton and other smaller communities.
She graduated High School in Nebraska City, Nebraska in 1934 at age 17 and then worked for two years in the family dry goods store not two blocks from home. She graduated Peru State Teachers College, sigma cum laude in 1940 in English Literature being number one in her class. In her senior year, she was offered the choice of being editor of the school newspaper or the yearbook; and she chose the latter. Afterwards she entered graduate studies in writing for the stage and radio in Des Moines, Iowa. Her formal career began by teaching High School in Arlington, Nebraska but just after Perl Harbor in 1942 she enlisted in the army (Women’s Auxiliary Core) even before the Women’s Army Core had been authorized by Congress (with Serial Number 703153). She was commissioned after Officer Candidate’s School and was promoted to First Lieutenant in the US Army at Camp Crowder, MO where she met and married the late Richard Julius Mruzik who had been one of her students. She was a champion of Veteran’s rights and at 93 years of age fought a successful campaign to restore benefits to minority veterans.
In 1951, she was the winner of the Alden Prize in a nationwide contest for original drama sponsored by the Dramatists’ Alliance of Stanford University for her tale of “River Rat.” Mary received her Master’s Degree in 1976 from the University of Missouri (SEMO). She was a winner of various short story contests and a contributor of human interest stories in the Current New Magazine of Eureka-Pacific over many decades.
Mrs. Mary Mruzik taught various subjects in the Meramec Valley School District from 1965 to 1970 having at one time over 1200 students in multiple schools in once art weekly classes. The work load was daunting so in desperation she prayed for relief and to her amazement, she found her hand resting upon an open teaching position in the newspaper. She won the job and taught Special Education classes in St. Louis from 1970 to 1982.
She was an ardent fan of the theater holding season tickets to the St. Louis Municipal Opera (MUNY) where she oft ran into former students and their families. She spent her retirement organizing monthly parties for the Pacific Senior Center and then at the Route 66 Senior Center in Eureka for several decades. On limited budgets, she cajoled help from a variety of sources to include Children’s Choirs from local School districts, the Boy Scouts, a local Barbershop Quartet club, and many other groups. In one of her more memorable productions, she wrote a play “Deadwood” with a part for nearly every senior citizen and the Chief of Police who instead contributed a young officer to act the main part for the old folks.
She was survived by her children, Dr. Michael R. Mruzik of Mountain View, CA, Lt. Col. Andrew J. Mruzik and wife Diane of Cape Girardeau, MO, Dr. John C. Mruzik, M.D., and wife Nancy of Columbia, MO, Mary Martha Lytton and husband Chuck of Baldwin, MO, Joseph J. Mruzik, M.B., and wife Tammy of Pacific, MO, a younger sister Patricia M. Babb nee Werner of Greenwood, SC. She is also survived by her fourteen grandchildren, Lisa Goldman, Michael, Christopher, and David Mruzik, Benjamin, Jennifer, and Kenneth Doering, Collin Lytton, Shannon, and Monica Mruzik, Thomas, Bethany and Joshua Mruzik; and also great grand children Logan, Lia, Laura, and Lynett and her great-great grandchild Avery, other relatives, and many friends.
Mrs. Mruzik was a member of St. James Catholic Church, Catawissa. A funeral mass was held April 30 with interment in the church cemetery.
Mary Elizabeth Werner at age 16 in Senior Prom in Nebraska City, Nebraska
Mary Elizabeth Werner in family garden in Nebraska City, Nebraska about 1935
Mary Elizabeth Werner departing for Mexico in the summer of 1941
Mary Elizabeth Werner adsorbing local culture in Mexico.
1Lt. Mary Elizabeth Werner in the US Army about 1943
1Lt. Mary Elizabeth Mruzik nee Werner and husband
Corporal Richard Julius Mruzik at Camp Crowder in
Marriage of Richard Julius Mruzik and Mary Elizabeth Werner (right) and her
sister as maid of honor, Patricia Margaret Babb nee Werner (left) in 1944 at
Camp Crowder, Missouri.
Mary Lizabeth Mruzik nee Werner and her husband Richard
Julius Mruzik at her daughter’s wedding in Pacific, Missouri.