Mary Jane Smith, 78

Published 7:01 am Sunday, April 5, 2015



Mary Jane Smith of Austin, Minnesota, died peacefully at her home on March 24, 2015.

She was born on Jan. 19, 1937, in Austin, Minnesota, to Erling W. and Mary Jane (Hubbard) Runquist. Mary Jane graduated from Austin High School in 1955 then attended Macalester College and Northwestern Hospital School of Nursing. In 1957, she took a leave of absence from nurses training to serve as a Minnesota student nurse delegate at the International Council of Nurses Convention in Rome, Italy. There she became reacquainted with, and later married, Robert Irwin Richardson of Austin, Minnesota, who was serving in the military. They were married in Basel, Switzerland, lived in Germany and later in Ellendale, Minnesota. Mary Jane graduated in 1960 with her RN from the Naeve Hospital School of Nursing, where she served as president of the Nurses Club and belonged to Beta Sigma Phi. Mary Jane and Bob relocated to Austin, Minnesota, where they were active members of the First Methodist Church and she was employed at St. Olaf Hospital. They were later divorced. They had three daughters: Mary Jane, Barbara Ann and Ann Elizabeth.

Mary Jane married Dr. Merrill K. (Med) Smith on July 22, 1971, on an island in the boundary waters of Northern Minnesota. Med, Mary Jane and her three daughters relocated to a hobby farm east of Austin where they raised horses, great dane dogs and Persian cats. In 1986 a second home was purchased in Sun City, Arizona, and for eight winters Mary Jane was employed at Thunderbird Samaritan Medical Center and did home care nursing in Arizona. In 1989, Mary Jane provided end-of-life home care for a dear friend on a ranch in Montana.

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Mary Jane was employed as an RN at Courage Center in Golden Valley, Minnesota, where she enjoyed working with spinal cord injury and rehabilitation patients. After earning her certification as an RNC in 1997 in Gerontological Nursing she was employed at St. Marks Lutheran Home in Austin, Minnesota, for four years. She then returned to Courage Center until her retirement.

Mary Jane had many interests during her life. She was an active member of the Mower County Humane Society, she and husband Med were State Investigative Agents for the Minnesota Humane Society, she was a member of the Red Cedar Chapter of the DAR, a first aid/CPR instructor for the American Red Cross and a Hospice Volunteer for the Austin Medical Center. Mary Jane and Med were members of the Westminister Presbyterian Church of Austin, Minnesota.

Mary Jane is survived by a daughter Mary Jane Riley of Rochester, Minnesota; a brother John (Luine) Runquist of New Brighton, Minnesota; a sister Erleen (Wendell) Nelson of Austin, Minnesota; a granddaughter Jessica Bell of Robbinsdale, Minnesota; a great-granddaughter Annabell Clarke of Robbinsdale, Minnesota; two step-children: Dr. Jeffrey (Mary) Smith of Andover, Minnesota, and Jeff (Kathleen) Zwerdling of Minneapolis, Minnesota; four nephews; one niece; three step-grandchildren; four step-great-grandchildren.

Mary Jane was preceded in death by her parents; her step-mother Alyce Runquist; her husband Dr. Merrill K. (Med) Smith; two daughters: Barbara Ann (Richardson) Bell, and Ann Elizabeth (Richardson) Pfenning; granddaughter Ashley Lee Bell; brother Dr. James Runquist; and son-in-law Leonard Eugene (Gumps) Riley.

Per her request cremation has taken place. There will be a Mary Jane Smith Celebration of Life service held on May 2, 2015, at 11 a.m. at the Westminister Presbyterian Church at 802 4th Street SW Austin, MN (507) 433-3258. Please bring memories and stories to share. Lunch will be served. Mary Jane requested memorials go to the Westminister Presbyterian church or the local Humane Society.