Mary Royce Severns, 87, Great Falls, passed away at Peace Hospice on Monday, October 28, 2019. A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, December 7th at 5:00 pm at the Christ United Methodist Church. Mary William Royce was born in Ithaca, NY on April 11, 1932 to Milton Pettis Royce and Ruth Stratton Van Kirk Royce. She attended Inlet Valley School through the sixth grade, Boynton Junior High and Ithaca High School, graduating in 1949. Because of her musical talent Mary was accepted to play at Interlochen Music School while attending high school and would later play in the newly formed Great Falls Symphony. She also graduated from Cornell University in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts and earned a master’s degree in Special Education from Eastern Montana College in 1978 and another in Technological Systems Management from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1983. In 1954 she married Jack Sevens in Ithaca. They resided in El Paso and Dallas, TX; Belt, Kalispell, Billings, and Great Falls, Montana. In the late 1960's, Mary became interested in teaching. She assisted with a ground-breaking study of Behavior Modification techniques and went on to earn a Master of Science in Special Education at Eastern Montana College. Her courses required her to commute to Billings one week per month, leaving her husband and children behind. They soon realized that she had a talent and a drive, so it was time to accept that they were part of a two-career family. Mary and Jack divorced in 1990 after having three children; Robin Severns of Menlo Park, CA, Jennifer Severns of Tacoma, WA, and Timothy Severns of Spokane, WA. Her later life was spent with loving partner, Harry Geer. Mary was employed as an underwriter for Connecticut General Insurance Company of Hartford, CT; by the U. S. Government as a ballistics computer at Ft. Bliss, TX, and by Texas Instruments as an assembler of transistors, and was a Special Education teacher in the Great Falls Public Schools from 1974 – 1992. She has been a member of A.A.U.W.; Phi Beta Kappa education honorary, and the Great Falls Y.W.C.A Board of Directors. At the time of her death she was an active member of the Christ United Methodist Church as well as a 68-year member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood. She was also active with the First Presbyterian Church. Mary loved being on a boat and enjoyed bowling. She also enjoyed traveling and adventuring. Her honeymoon in 1954 took her by jeep to the dirt tracks and rough canyons of the Barrancas del Cobre in Mexico. She travelled across the US and to Hawaii with family and by herself. While in Billings, the family purchased an Army surplus rubber raft and spent many hours floating both the Yellowstone River and later, the Missouri. As the wife of a Methodist minister, she was expected to be the perfect partner to her husband and head of a perfect family. Despite that pressure, she enjoyed Women's Society events, cooking at church camps and volunteering at many church activities. With her second husband who worked at the CM Russell Gallery, she enjoyed Western art and together they looked forward to the art shows during the auction week. They went boating on Holter and traveled the state in their motorhome. She volunteered at the Great Falls Senior Center, knitted prayer shawls and drove errands for housebound friends. Mary is survived by her first husband, Jack Severns of Des Moines, WA; her three children: Robin Severns of Menlo Park, CA, Jennifer Severns of Tacoma, WA, and Timothy Severns of Spokane, WA; six grandchildren; her sister, Ellen Nacinovich; her brother, Charles Royce; and by Harry L. Geer, her caring partner of 30 years.
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