The community of Gordon suffered a tragic loss on Tuesday, January 10, when Mary Lou Roberts was struck and killed while doing something she cherished: shopping and visiting the businesses up and down her beloved town’s Main Street. Although the shock and heartbreak is still fresh, she would want us all to smile while thinking of the last conversation we had with her and be happy in the knowledge that she left the world with no regrets and is at peace.
Mary Lou was born May 26, 1929, in Chadron to Herbert A. and Mary “Mayme” E. Manning. She attended schools in Chadron and graduated from high school in 1946. During her high school years, she was a majorette, and had many, many friends, several of whom she counted among her closest friends until the day she died. She attended Chadron State College for 2 years before moving with her parents to Alliance, where she took a job at the telephone office. During that time, she met Wendell Holthus and married him on September 25, 1949. Three years later, in 1952, Wendell and Mary Lou gave birth to their daughter, Wendelyn (Wendy), and moved to Gordon, where Wendell opened the Dodd Debolt Implement Dealership. The young couple welcomed their son, Rolland Scott (Scott), to their family in 1955, and a few years later built a home on East 9th Street. When Wendell passed away in 1960, Mary Lou began her work career and supported her young family until 1964 when she married Jack Roberts and moved to the Roberts farm east of Gordon.
Mary Lou loved to work and continued to work in town while taking on the role of farm wife and mother. Mary Lou’s many employers included La Favorite Dress Shop, Waldo Texaco, Gordon Sale Barn, Saults and Son, Western Auto, Purdy’s Studio, Gordon Journal, her son Scott’s Jack and Jill Grocery Store, and Hinns Clothing. She continued her friendships and relationships with all her employers and the people she served throughout her life. After Jack suffered a stroke, they moved into town and Mary Lou devoted her life to caring for Jack. When Jack died in 2006, she turned her energies to her Church, the Library, Book Club, volunteering for the blood drive and supporting her many friends, children, and grandchildren. She was a fixture in the Grace Lutheran Church, where she helped provide food for so many funeral services that she famously told her fellow members of the Lutheran Women’s Guild that she wanted everyone to bring a sack lunch to hers. They accommodated her request by decorating the tables at her funeral lunch with True Value paper sacks – she would have loved that.
She was in great shape and in addition to working out at The Fitness Place, she could be seen walking all over town with her dog, Joe, who she adored and liked to say was almost cured of biting her friends and family. Mary Lou is survived by her daughter, Wendy Jacobson, husband Jared and their son Erik of Gordon; son Scott and wife Shannon Smith, of Boulder, Colorado; grandson Kyle Holthus of New York City, granddaughter Alison and her husband Terry Kishiyama and their son Kaion of Lyons, Colorado; and brother-in-law Bud Roberts of Gordon; along with the many, many friends and relatives throughout the community and region who will miss her smile, sunny spirit, and friendly “How ‘ya doin, kiddo?” Services were held on Friday, January 13 at Grace Lutheran Church with Reverend Richard C. Mueller officiating. Pallbearers were Kyle Holthus, Terry Kishiyama, Dan Brennan, Tom Evans, Zane Smith, and Harlen Wheeler. Interment was at the Gordon Cemetery. A memorial has been established for the Gordon Public Library, Gordon Memorial Hospital, or the Grace Lutheran Church and donations may be sent to: Chamberlain-Pier Funeral Home, PO Box 366, Gordon, NE 69343.