Mary Ann Krzemien. Photo provided by Don Preister.

Mary Ann Krzemien left her indelible imprint on our hearts, our city, state and world. She lived her life in service to people, animals and all of God’s creation. She modeled and taught those values over four decades to thousands of her students at Ryan and St. Joseph’s High schools plus, UNO, St Mary and Creighton Universities. She mentored students and the many neighbor children who visited her.

Mary Ann was an active 30-year board member for the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance, SONA and South Omaha Environmental Task Force, SOETF. Her leadership led to systems that reduced odors, sewer gasses, manure spills, litter and graffiti. Her floral center pieces adorned each table at the yearly dinner. She worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for all.

Walking by Mary Ann’s yard were people living homeless. She learned their names and stories, often driving them to social services. She met people on the streets who were destitute, so she gave them food, help and comfort. All people were of worth to her. More than once she drove home the “Broom Man,” Rev. Livingston Wills, in the rain or cold.

Mary Ann’s compassion extended to the stray dogs and cats that she rescued and cared for. She planted her yard in flowers that brighten the neighborhood for all. For years she gave people flower seeds and plants, including at the weekly Bellevue Farmers Market. Pollinators thrived in her ever colorful, fragrant showplace yard where she was a ray of sunshine.

Many elderly folks benefitted from Mary Ann’s weekly visits, for 10 years volunteering in the Douglas County Health Center and Omaha Nursing Home. Her smile and cheerful demeanor brought comfort and support to people who had no family or visitors. She advocated for people and our planet in the legislature, leading to improvements. Mary Ann worked in a Senators office, wrote letters, rallied neighbors and generated support for these causes.

Additionally, Mary Ann co-founded and ran her own business, Joy Creations Greeting Cards, for 35 years. Her goal was quality Midwest art, at an affordable price for all. Her legacy now extends around the globe. We were blessed that she gave so much to so many in a life so very well lived. Her joy, compassion and service radiate on in the hearts of those who knew her. She was and is a guide star.

Don Preister

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