Cover photo for Mary C. Moebius's Obituary
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1949 Mary 2024

Mary C. Moebius

August 4, 1949 — January 25, 2024

Madison

Mary C. Moebius 

Mary C. Moebius passed from this life on January 25, 2024 at Agrace Hospice Care in Fitchburg after a brave struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. With her was her long-term partner Ed Janus, her even-longer-term friend Marilyn Rhodes, and many of the truly wonderful Agrace staff who had cared for and loved her for the last six months of her life. (Mary had been in memory care for the past three years.) Mary’s last breath was carried skyward by a lone red cardinal waiting for her in a tree outside her window. 

Mary was born August 4, 1949, in Milwaukee, the youngest of four children— artists, writers, and teachers all. Mary’s family owned what was at the time the largest printing business in the state, Moebius Printing Company. 

Mary’s mother Janet’s family, the Cushings, includes two Civil War heroes, one a National Medal of Honor Winner. 

Mary graduated from Nicolet High School and Lawrence University where she majored in French. In graduate studies at UW-Madison, she then earned her master’s degree as a Reading Specialist. She spent 33 years as a middle school language arts and social studies teacher in Verona, where she missed only one week of teaching in 33 years. She likely taught over 3,500 young people during those years—fine citizens today. 

During her summers, Mary took off her professional demeanor and became a world traveler and adventurer. Perhaps her love of exotic places began on her family’s first trip overseas to drive through Europe in a microbus, visiting France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. As an adult, she had many unique experiences including a visit to Iran, where she was kissed by a Dervish on the streets of Tehran. And how many of us can say that? 

Mary’s real love was adventure in the natural world, so off to Africa and a safari— lions, gazelle, elephants, and all manner of things not human…except for visiting the 3.5-million-year-old steps trod by very early humans with the famous anthropologist Mary Leakey! 

Next summer, off to the Galapagos Islands, the birthplace of Darwin’s theory of evolution. In the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, nature still reigns and unusual creatures thrive, suiting Mary’s love of exploring new frontiers.

Next, off to Peru and the famous temple at Machu Picchu—a long climb for something unforgettable. Then down the Amazon River on a small boat, piranhas and all. After each trip, Mary returned to the classroom armed with slides and wonderful stories that brought the world to the children of Verona. This, she used to say, was why she traveled. Mary was the archetype of the ideal teacher, always asking how she could share the world and her experiences of it with her students. They always came first. 

Mary also became a student of herself on an Outward Bound journey into self- discovery and new strength of character. Off to the coast of Maine for a tour of duty on a small sailing boat in a huge ocean. Then two days alone on an island to fend for herself. Which she did! Mary did all this and more not because she was brave and these things came easily, but because she wasn’t, and they were challenging for her. 

Mary had a very strong natural sense of humor and a wonderful ability to play with words. An avid reader, she kept a bedside notebook in which she wrote down every book she had read as an adult—hundreds, mostly about outdoors, adventure, the wonders of nature, and murder most foul. 

Mary also collected wisdom, filling notebook after notebook with sayings that helped her grow as a human being. After Mary’s sister Nancy was hospitalized to treat severe burns suffered in a car fire, Mary wrote to her every day with a quotation to keep her spirit alive. It worked! 

Mary’s works of art, especially her amazingly glorious pumpkins and her 50 individual Christmas cards each year were much sought after by her friends. 

Mary also enjoyed music, and until very recently played the piano. In the 1970s, Mary wrote, performed, and recorded a CD of her own songs. Even in her last week of life she perked up when her music therapist Ingrid Gruett played and sang with her as they had done for six years. 

Mary and her long-time partner Ed Janus never married, although they lived together for 34 years. Together Mary and Ed traveled to Europe, Nova Scotia, Montana, Washington, D.C., and Florida. 

Mary spent the last six months of her life in the Agrace Hospice memory care unit where she was given a steady diet of love and care from the really amazing staff. 

Mary is survived by Ed; brother Bill (Lara); sister Judith Kaiser; nephews Matthew Moebius (children Michaela, Aiden); Jonathan Hendler (Sonia) (children Sophia, Carl); and Jonathan Kaiser (Zosha Warpeha); nieces Corinna Moebius; Margaret (Jude) Cleland (son Henry); Anne Kaiser (Craig Mattson) (son Nathaniel); Clara Moebius; cousins; Ed’s grandson Eli Janus; friend Marilyn; other friends galore; colleagues; more than 3,500 former students; and especially the very good neighbors on South Owen. 

If you are inclined to donate in Mary’s name, please consider organizations supporting literacy, conservation, education, Alzheimer’s research, or Agrace Hospice Care. 

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