MARY ELLEN (SWANK) HIGDAY
Mary Ellen (SWANK) HIGDAY was born July 9, 1936 on one of the hottest days of that decade. It was 117º that day. She
was born S.W. of Kellerton Iowa in Athens Twp. in the Salem community, at her great-grandparents, Ed & Ida GREENMAN’s
home place. She was the oldest of 4 children born to Lawrence SWANK and Wilma GREENMAN. The next spring after she
was born she and her parents moved to a farm N.W. of Diagonal, Iowa. She started school there and then in the spring
of 1942 they moved back to the Salem community where her parents bought her grandparents, Clifford and Bessie
GREENMAN’s farm. She went to the Salem rural school and graduated from the 8th grade there, and then she went to Mount
Ayr High School and graduated with the class of 1954. During her youth she had 2 faithful pets, her white pony Topsy,
and her collie dog Shep. She belonged to the Caledonia Clover Girls 4-H club and held many offices, later being
county girls 4-H president and also held state offices in the 4-H. She attended the Salem church and later attended
the Kellerton United Methodist church.
After graduation she went to work at the Ringgold county extension office
and then moving to Des Moines and working at Farm Bureau, and later at Standard Distributing.
On July 4th, 1958 she was married to Donald McLEAD at the Methodist Church in Kellerton, to this union was
born one son, Robert McLEAD. They later divorced and she married Max HIGDAY on August 29th, 1962. To this union 4
children were born, Brent, Marilyn, Mike, Mark. Mary and Max lived in Carroll, Iowa and Creston, Iowa where she was
a purchasing agent for the hospitals. They moved to Omaha, Ne. where Mary worked for Lozier Corp. for 20 years.
After retiring she and her good friend Jay BOWEN traveled and spent their winters in the south until her failing
health, and she lived at the Mount Ayr Health Care since July of 2004 [where she passed away on April 13, 2005].
She was preceded in death by her 2 husbands and her parents. Mary is survived by her friend and companion
Jay BOWEN, her sisters Linda and Bob SWANSON, Cathy & Jim COULSON, and brother Larry SWANK with special friend Deb
CLARK. Her children Robert and Carrie McLEAD, Brent and Faith HIGDAY, Marilyn and Steve THOMPSON, Mike HIGDAY and
Mark HIGDAY. Her Grandchildren Amanda, Liz, Caitlin, Wyatt McLEAD. Kevin, Ryan, Lee and Brandon THOMPSON and several
aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and lots of friends.
Mary donated her remains to The Nebraska Anatomical Board to help further science. There will be a
celebration of life ceremony at the Mount Ayr Legion building on Saturday, April 16th at 10:00 A.M., and internment
will be at Rose Hill Cemetery in Mount Ayr, Iowa at a later date.
Submitted by Mark Higday, January of 2009