Mary Hillesland

Obituary of Mary Lou Hillesland

The heavens rejoice, as the earth mourns.  Mary Lou (Strand) Hillesland passed away peacefully on February 9, 2023, at age 79.    She was a beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend.  Her infectious laugh, dry sense of humor and devotion to family and friends will be especially remembered and missed.

Born in Rolette, North Dakota on June 7, 1943 to parents Elmer and Helen Strand and brother JohnMary grew up on the family farm in Perth, ND.  The whole community came together to support her and her family when she was diagnosed with polio as a baby, later undergoing successful treatment and surgeries.  Once she was able to walk without assistance, there wasn’t anything that could slow her down.  Mary had a wonderful childhood, often sharing stories and cherished memories of times and adventures with her friends and cousins.  

Mary graduated from Bisbee High School in 1961, and then attended North Dakota School of Forestry in Bottineau, where she met her future husband Neil.  She received an Associate Degree in Secretarial Science in 1963, and was crowned Queen of Smokey’s Wonderland.

Mary and Neil were married on June 16, 1963 in Perth, ND.  They moved to Mayville, ND, where they welcomed their first daughter Michelle in 1964.  Neil graduated from Mayville State Teachers College and got a teaching job in New Rockford, ND, where they welcomed their second daughter Susan in 1966.  Hired by Mountain Home High School in 1967, the small family packed up and moved to Idaho, welcoming their son Michael in 1973.  

Mary and Neil built a rich life in Mountain Home; making life-long friends and becoming integral members of the local community.  Mary was a long-time volunteer at the nursing home, a member of Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, and could always be seen at and supporting her children’s activities.  Active parishioners of Faith Lutheran Church, Mary was a member of Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML), Thrivent, and wrote the Church’s newsletter.  She was also busy in the business community; as co-owner in the Classy Closet, worked at Jack & Jill Daycare, was the bookkeeper for the Carpet Shoppe, and was the Work Experience Coordinator for School District 193.  A wonderful cook, Mary was also well-known for her expertise in the kitchen, most notably her bread buns which were a favorite and often requested at gatherings and events.

She was preceded in death by her father Elmer Strand, mother Helen (Dunham) Strand, brother John Strand and sister-in-law Bertha Hoyt.  

Mary is survived by her loving husband of 59 years, Neil Hillesland; daughters  Michelle Hillesland and Susan Ess (Chris), son Michael Hillesland (April); grandchildren Jacob Minturn (Virginia), Isaac Minturn (Ruby), Mason Minturn (Bailey), Sarah Minturn and Selah Parnell; Aunt Ingrid, and many great-grandchildren, in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.

The family would like to thank Amanda Auten, and the staff at Horizon Home Health & Hospice for the amazing care they provided Mary during the last months of her life, especially Tricia, Betsy, Kaeleigh, Cindy, Jan, Connie, Jayce and Larissa. 

Memorial Services for Mary will be held at Faith Lutheran Church in Mountain Home, on April 1, 2023 at 11:00am. Cremation was under the care of Rost Funeral Home, McMurtrey Chapel.

In remembrance of Mary’s life, the family asks that any charitable donations be made to Angels Anonymous, c/o Horizon Home Health & Hospice, Mountain Home office. 

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A Memorial Tree was planted for Mary
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Rost Funeral Home and Crematory
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