Mary Larson, 1923-2015

Published 9:28 am Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mary Ellen (Carey) Larson, 92, of Springfield, Illinois, passed away Sunday afternoon, March 22, 2015, at her home surrounded by her family. She was born Feb. 10, 1923, in Albert Lea to James and Margaret Doyle Carey.

Mary Larson

Mary Larson

She married Robert George Larson Aug. 12, 1945, and he preceded her in death in 2007. They had one daughter, Kara I. Larson Rice, of New Berlin, Illinois.

Together they owned and operated a restaurant called  the Raven’s Nest in Rush City. From there they went to Jefferson City, Missouri, for a short time and then moved to Alpine, Texas, where they both attended Sol Ross State College. She earned a degree in business management while Bob attended classes and painted a mural for the college. After graduating they moved to Springfield where they carefully researched and restored their first home on Whittier Avenue back to its original state, dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

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She and Bob wrote their book of memoirs over the years featuring the Larson/Carey family history along with early days of Bob’s artistic career as a display artist and curator of exhibits with the Illinois State Museum.They meticulously catalogued the steps in the making of the dioramas, sculptures and displays of Bob’s artwork.

After Bob’s passing she began a small business called Larson Special Effects, keeping his artwork and memory alive in the central Illinois area. Many of his Lincoln items are being sold today at Studio on 6th in downtown Springfield.

Mary worked and retired from the state of Illinois. She started in 1970 for the Department of Children and Family Services as a clerk typist II, then as an account clerk II. She then moved to the Department of Rehabilitation Services as an executive III where she then retired in 1989. After retiring, she worked/volunteered for the Illinois State Museum gift shop for many years. She served as the leader for the King’s Daughter’s Organization joining in 1995, she assembled the KDO yearbooks and remained on the board until her passing. She and Bob were also members of the Audubon Society; they loved to go on frequent bird watching excursions. She also belonged to the Springfield Art Association, Sangamon County Historical Society, Illinois State Museum Society and was still an active member of AFSCME. She attributed her near spotless health to her vitamins and loved sharing all the information she could with others. She enjoyed watching CNN, sewing, politics, photography, bookkeeping and spending quality time with her family.

She will be greatly missed by her loving family: her only daughter, Kara I. (JC) Rice, of New Berlin; grandchildren John Calvin “Cal” Rice of Minneapolis and Erin M. Rice (Steve Woodrum) of Alexander; great-grandchildren Avery Allen and Hudson Robert Woodrum of Alexander, Illinois; sister-in-law, Nora Carey, of Albert Lea; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

Preceding her in death were two brothers, Richard and Leo Carey; sisters-in-law Adeline Carey, Mary Peek and Margaret Pottick; and brother-in-law, Roland Peek.

She loved her family and friends; she was a busy gal but her daughter and grandchildren always came first. They were her pride and joy. She always made sure to spend quality time with all of them. She and her granddaughter, Erin, would have lunch every Wednesday at Baker’s Square to catch up on weekly events. She was also passionate about helping her grandson, Cal, get through his college years at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities by helping out in any way she could. Cal will graduate in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and construction management. Her dream of attending his graduation was cut a bit short, but her family all knows she and Bob will be sitting in the front row cheering him on! She and great-grandson, Avery, both have birthdays on Feb. 10; they were only a mere 88 years apart.

Her license plates were also geared toward the kids — they read GRAM OF 2 on her shiny blue Lincoln Zephyr. You could spot her driving down the street with her window flags — State of Illinois and the Cardinals — blowing in the wind! Through the summer months she would ride her three-wheeled trike through the mobile home park, walking to the mailbox and washing her car every day. You would have never guessed she was in her 90s! Her smile and witty personality were something truly to behold. There will never be another like her.

There will only be a private family service but memorial contributions may be made to Memorial Home Services, Hospice, 701 N. First St., Springfield, IL, 62702; or King’s Daughters Organization, P.O. Box 2087, Springfield, IL, 62705-2087.

Cremation rites will be accorded by Cremation Services of Central Illinois in Chatham. The Larson/Rice family is being served by Staab Polk Memorial Home, 8855 State Route 4, Chatham, IL, 62629. Please visit for more information and to leave condolences.