Mae O’Neal, 92, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A beautiful tiny baby girl, Mae Viola Thompson was born to George Arthur and Caroline Thompson on May 2, 1920, on their farm in Hartland Township.

Mae O'Neal

Mae was confirmed and baptized at the Hartland Lutheran Church in Hartland, attended country schools in both Hartland and Manchester townships and also Freeborn High School. Her Norwegian ancestors were of the people that built the churches of north Freeborn County.

Mae shared fond memories of her childhood and cold wintry sleigh rides home from grandparents, Bertram and Betsy Sybilrud’s farm, located north of Hartland, and also of picking raspberries and gooseberries as she walked through the woods of her grandmother Arslog Thompson Lee’s farm, located on the north shore of Mule Lake.

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Mae was an accomplished musician with the wonderful gift of being able to play anything she heard on the piano. Many fun evenings were spent gathered around her at the piano as she played while friends and family sang the popular tunes of the era. Her family’s love of music, her great sense of humor, their strong Christian faith, believing in doing what was right and showing support for each other, brought her and her family through the Great Depression, World War II and life.

Mae married Harry O’Neal in 1937, and together they made Albert Lea their home until 1961. Because of Harry’s promotion by Wilson and Co., the family relocated to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where their seventh child Rod was born. Mae called and wrote often to the friends and family she left behind in Minnesota, always expressing her love and concern for them. She and Harry always took time for their family and others, no matter how busy they were. Together she and Harry, who were married 64 1/2 years, made many trips with their family back to Minnesota to visit family.

She became a fantastic seamstress with the ability to design and sew for her children and neighbors, formals, wedding dresses, costumes, coats, sports wear, hats and whatever was needed.

As a member of First Lutheran Church in Albert Lea, Mae taught Sunday school and sewed choir gowns. She and her husband, Harry, also sang in the adult choir and for weddings.

Her unquenchable thirst for knowledge had her constantly taking courses in philosophy and spirituality. She became a “student of life” who was found capable of channeling God’s healing powers to those who believed. She obtained a master’s degree in reiki healing. Mae helped many people by taking them into her home and also by sharing her knowledge of healing by faith, correct thought and proper nutrition. In her later years she spent much of her time in meditation and prayer, teaching her children and others to put the things we could not handle into God’s hands, saying, “let go and let God” and “this too shall pass.” She was also a strong advocate of positive thinking, fairness, kindness, forgiveness and understanding.

She and her teachings will be in our hearts forever. Thank you, Mom.

She was preceded in death by: her parents, Art and Caroline, her husband, Harry, in 2001, grandchild Lindsey Dahl, her brothers: Arvel, Jim, George, Vernon and Elvern Thompson, sisters: Alice (Harry) Rosenthal andClarice (Ben) Henrichs, brothers-in-law: Harry Rosenthal, Ben Henrichs, Leo O’Neal and Milt Nelson

Sisters-in-law: Winfred, Pauline and Bernice Thompson.

She is survived by her children: Patricia (Frank) Gjersvik of Manchester, Carol (Dennis) Colstrup of Albert Lea, Steve O’Neal of Wasilla, Alaska, Kathy Toms, Kevin (Deb) O’Neal, Rod (Shelley) O’Neal of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Luanne (Bill) Watts of Los Angeles, Calif.

Mae O'Neal

Grandchildren: Kris (Ross) Dahl, Terry (Darah) Gjersvik, Neal (Lisa) Gjersvik, Bill (Andrea) Gjersvik, Cheryl (Mike) Yauger, Judy (Dick) Hoiseth, Danny Colstrup and friend Christine Bolinger, Tim (Anne) Colstrup, Jennifer (Chad Gardner), Shannon (Gina) O’Neal, Shane (Rhonda) Toms, Jason (Angie) Toms, Allison (John) Jacobs, Rachel (Roy) Tamayo and Kyle Jaycox, Isaac Watts, and Hailey and Logan O’Neal.

Great-grandchildren: Gretchen, Taylor, Bryce and Graham Dahl, Hannah, Lars and Grace Gjersvik, Harry, Lilly and Noah Gjersvik. Langdon Gjersvik, Nicholas and Anthony Hoiseth and Tarah Hoiseth Larson, Michelle Parker, Carrie, Mikey and Andy Yauger, Soren and Eric Colstrup, Beau and Abe Gardner, Brennan, Lexi and Alisa O’Neal, Sawyer Toms and Tyler Andrews, Ella and Luke Toms, Olivia and Benjamin Jacobs, Julia, Maya and Rio Tamayo, and Jamison O’Neal.

Great-great-grandchildren: Oliver and Hali Dahl, Haaken Dahl, Brandon and Hailey Parker, Gage Studierand Neveah Hoiseth and Chambers Hoiseth.

Brother Harold Thompson and his wife, Helen, brother-in-Law Roger O’Neal, sisters-in-Law Bernice O’Neal, Blanche O’Neal, Florence (George) Thompson and Florence (Elverne) Thompson.

Many caring nieces and nephews also survive her

Her family and those who knew her will dearly miss her.