Mary R. Forster, age 92, of Mt. Shasta, CA, died March 22, 2020, of natural causes at Shasta View Estates Nursing Center in Weed, CA.
Mary was born August 29, 1927, at home on a small dairy farm, in the Township of Lima, rural Durand, WI. She was the daughter of William L. and Alvina (Bauer) Forster. Mary graduated from Sacred Heart High School, Lima, in 1945. She knew early on that her life’s calling went beyond the farm. The airplanes flying overhead spoke to her of a bigger world that she needed to explore. An opportunity came when she saw a magazine ad for the “Cadet Nurse Corps.” She promptly signed up for a three year RN program at St. Francis School of Nursing in LaCrosse, WI. This decision set her course for life.
Since WWII had ended and she no longer owed a commitment, upon graduating from nurses training in 1948 she worked for two years in Wisconsin. It was during this time that she and several colleagues decided to explore the American West. After returning home she soon made the decision to follow her dreams and relocated to San Francisco. It was during this time, while traveling, that she discovered Mt. Shasta. She recalled being able to see Mt. Shasta in the distance and admired its beauty “for hours”, a vision she never forgot. After spending eight years in the Bay Area as a civilian nurse, she once again made a life-changing decision and joined the Air Force.
Her twenty year military career included Castle Air Force Base (AFB), CA (1958-60); Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico (1960-62); Shepherd AFB, TX (1962-63); the University of Omaha, NE (1963-64); Izmir (NATO), Turkey (1964-65); Wiesbaden AFB, Germany (1965-67); Minot AFB, ND (1967-68); Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam (1969-70); Malmstrom AFB, MT (1971-74); Lakenheath AFB, England (1974-76); concluding at Travis AFB, CA (1977-78). Her military awards and decorations include the National
Defense Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Bronze Star.
Upon her military retirement, Mary settled in Mt. Shasta where she became a pillar of the community. She was uniquely curious with an unquenchable zest for life. Mary loved the change of seasons, knitting, gardening, reading, but above all she loved to travel. In her retirement she visited The Holy Land, Egypt, South Africa, Peru, East Berlin, Moscow, Belgium, Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Haiti, Sweden, Finland and Scotland.
She also loved music and spent many years singing and traveling with the Sweet Adelines, College of The Siskiyous Choir and her church choir. Whether it was her involvement in the Mt. Shasta Garden Club, Women’s Veterans Groups, or Altar Society, her leadership skills emerged as demonstrated by her commitment to her community and fellow Veterans. She was instrumental in the creation of The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden and St. Anthony's Outdoor Grotto.
Mary is survived by four siblings: Blanche Caton of Eau Claire, WI, Roger (Bev) Forster of Highlands Ranch, CO, Clarissa Ramsey of Camp Hill, PA, and David (Mary Jean) Forster of Elk River, MN; numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
She is preceded in death by her parents; two brothers, Wm. Daniel Forster and Maurice J. Forster, two brothers-in-law, Robert Caton and Donald Ramsey, and an infant sister, Lillian.
Mary will be remembered for her infectious smile, the mischievous twinkle in her eyes and her passion for flowers. She was a classy, dear and inspiring woman who leaves a legacy of loyal friendship and generosity. Well done, good and faithful servant.
Her family would like to thank her St. Anthony’s Catholic Church family for their steadfast love throughout her four decades in Mt. Shasta. Additionally, her family thanks the staff at Shasta View Estates in Weed for the excellent care and compassion provided over the past seven years of her residency there. She touched the hearts of everyone there, staff and residents alike and will be sorely missed.
Funeral services will be held at a future time when we are all able to gather again. Interment will be at Holy Rosary Cemetery, Lima, WI. Donations may be made in her honor to the St. Anthony’s Catholic Church Building Fund, 507 Pine St, Mt. Shasta, CA, 96067.