MaryGrace Hood Harris

MaryGrace Hood came into this world June 22, 1927, at Billings, Neb. The story was always told that she was born in a chicken coop that was home to her parents and older brother. It would later become a part of the Harris ranch.

Her father worked for many people and, including at one time, her future husband’s sister. They moved often finally settling on a farm in eastern Nebraska near Wolbach. It was still in the family until her son was in his teens. MaryGrace’s mother suffered poor health forcing her to take responsibility for the house and her younger siblings, something which she took very seriously.

She was preceded in death by her husband Sherman and her two brothers, Jack and Karol. She is survived by her brothers–Harvey (Donna) of Everett, Wash., and Ernie (Roberta) of Neola, Iowa–and her five sisters: Marty Hall of Omaha, Neb., Jeanne Mathis of Gordon, Neb., Cella Williams of Omaha, Neb., Leora Denison of Martin, S.D., and Leota Frandsen of Martin, S.D. She is also survived by her son, Alan (Kathleen) and daughter, Sherry, both of Gordon, Neb., as well as her grandchildren Jeremy (Rajeana) of Lincoln, Neb., Matthew (Leah) of Chadron, Neb., and Shandall (Ron) of Gordon, Neb. She had seven great-grandchildren: Nadia, Caedmon, Olivia, Gavin, Chelsea, Evangeline, and Garrett.

MaryGrace lived a full life. She was a servant to family, church, and community. She came to Sheridan County to teach rural school at 16 years of age. She always held it over her children that she graduated valedictorian. Only later did we learn it was a class of 4 students.

As the teacher lived with William Harris (Jennie), brother of her future husband. Sherman proposed on April Fool’s Day. He always maintained it was a joke, but that the joke was on him when she accepted. They were married on Dec. 7, 1946, in St. Joseph, Mo. To this union were born two children: Alan and Sherry. While MaryGrace taught school, the couple farmed a small place north of Gordon until purchasing a small ranch north of Rushville where they lived until their retirement, brought on by a bout with eye cancer. The ranch remains in the family to this day. After retirement, they joined the Peace Corps serving in southern Honduras, MaryGrace continuing her legacy as a teacher. After two years away, grandchildren drew them back to Sheridan County. MaryGrace was active in the Clinton Methodist Church until failing health retired her. MaryGrace and Sherman also served with the foster grandparents in Hay Springs, Rushville, and Gordon. One of Alan’s fondest memories was putting his 60- and 70-year-old grandparents on the school bus for Head Start. MaryGrace and Sherman liked to vacation south, spending the winter months in Arizona, California, and Florida. MaryGrace and Sherman were “guest owners” of a ranch in Santa Barbara, south of Ronald Reagan’s ranch, where they met Cary Grant and served him toast with chokecherry jelly.

MaryGrace had a sharp mind and Alan enjoyed many hours of conversation with her discussing family, politics, farming, and people. She will be greatly missed in this.

The final chapter in this book is MaryGrace’s love for Jesus. She placed him above all despite her own shortcomings. Her son recalls visiting with her as she faced heart surgery: “I’m too old to really spend this kind of money on. However, if I can change the life outcome of one child in Head Start, I owe it to Jesus to continue this life.”

Memorial services were held Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 10 a.m. at Chamberlain-Pier Chapel, Gordon, Neb. A memorial has been established and donations may be sent in care of Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366, Gordon, NE 69343.

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