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Mary J. Zwick Ebeltoft
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Birth: Mar. 11, 1918
Stark County
North Dakota, USA
Death: Mar. 30, 2005
Stark County
North Dakota, USA

Getting older is not about wrinkles, it's about losing people you love. Just two months ago Mary Ebeltoft lost her husband of 63 years. In the early evening of March 30, 2005, Mary died of a broken heart.

Beyond her little circle of family and friends, those who broke bread with her, depended upon her, laughed and cried with her, life goes on seemingly unaffected by her death. But Mary Ebeltoft's life and now her death is a lesson about how a single good being can make a difference.

Mary was born in Dickinson on March 11, 1918. Her father Wilhelm Zwick, and her mother, Eva Knaup Zwick came to North Dakota from a German settlement in Hungary. Her mom and dad were not known for their accomplishments. They were only decent, only kind, only sacrificing. From them Mary first learned the value of a snug home, of a simmering pot, of constancy.

Smart, beautiful, and engaging, her first plans as a young woman were to join the business-world. After graduating from Dickinson High School she began work in women's fashion, first at J.C. Penney's and then with the Buttrey's Women's Store in Dickinson. She became a buyer for women's accessories and later transferred to become manager of the accessories department at the large Buttrey's Women's Store in Bismarck. There she came to the attention of the owner of this early chain store, and was offered the managership of her own store. She refused, not because she lacked the intensity to become what was then a scarce commodity, a business woman. She refused because she felt the touch of a good man, Paul Ebeltoft, to whom Mary decided to devote her life and career.

Mary and Paul were engaged in 1939 but first endured eighteen months of separation when Paul was activated in the national reserve call-up. Married in October 1941, while Paul was on leave from the Army Air Corps, they traveled together to Key Field, Mississippi where Mary hoped to make a home. She was spending a get-away weekend with Paul at the Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Within a month, Mary was back in Dickinson, while Paul began 3 years of war service overseas.

The war years found Mary at Dickinson State Teacher's College studying business; working in the Stark County Auditor's office; and leading a Junior Catholic Daughter's troupe. Mary volunteered for war relief service and, like many "war widows," counted the slow cadence of uncertainty and fear.

The war ended and Mary's career began. Mary and Paul's first child, William, was born in 1946 and their second son, Paul Jr. was born in 1949. While her husband became very active in the Dickinson business community, Mary worked to make his life easier and to enable her sons to achieve. Because they were things her Paul liked to do, she became a beautiful dancer, a skillful bridge player, a competent bowler and a good golfer. Her unerring sense of style and fashion complemented Paul's work in the clothing business. On her own, Mary developed the unusual hobby of collecting, studying and drafting architectural plans for residential dwellings -- a fine talent that she also sublimated for her family. It is not surprising, then, that Paul often counted his greatest achievement as "being able to persuade my wife to marry me."

When Paul retired in 1980, Mary and he spent half of each year at their home in California and half of their year in Dickinson. Aging with dignity and grace, Mary showered her two grandchildren, Rob and Dave, with love and worked hard to preserve the precarious balance of her older son's life, when he returned from Vietnam a decorated hero, but scarred and fragile.

Mary and Paul's son, Bill is now disabled and is living in Columbia Falls, Montana. Paul, Jr. and his wife Gail live in Dickinson. Their two children, Rob and Dave, are working as artists in New York City. Grandma Mary was so very proud of them.

Mary Ebeltoft, after 87 good years, teaches us that the heart that has truly loved, never forgets. It was always the wish of her heart to promote the projects her husband held dear. One of these, the Dickinson State University Foundation, would be Mary's preferred choice for a memorial gift.

A celebration of Mary's life will be held at 10:30 AM, Saturday, April 9, 2005 at the Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Dickinson, North Dakota. 
Family links: 
  Paul Ebeltoft (1918 - 2005)
Saint Patricks Cemetery
Stark County
North Dakota, USA
Plot: K. 8. 1. 6
Created by: High Plains
Record added: Dec 04, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 101717666
Mary J. <i>Zwick</i> Ebeltoft
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Added by: Cathy R
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