Mary Iber 1949-2014

January 6th, 2014

Mary Iber, consulting librarian for the sciences at Cole Library and college archivist, died Thursday, Jan. 2. She was 64. A Celebration of Life in her memory will be held Saturday, Feb. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in King Chapel, with a reception in Cole Library following at 5:30 p.m.

Mary Iber

Mary Iber

Iber was diagnosed with an aortic dissection in late December while visiting family in California. She underwent emergency surgery on Dec. 28, and died Jan. 2

Iber worked at Cornell College since 2000, and held a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and a master’s degree from the University of Iowa. Iber earned the rank of professor earlier this academic year.

The family has submitted the following obituary:

Mary Hammond Iber, a librarian at Cornell College who lived in Mount Vernon, Iowa, died unexpectedly in her sleep on Jan. 2, 2014. She was 64. Six days earlier, she had surgery for an aortic dissection, and she had been discharged from the hospital to recover at the home of one of her brothers, George Hammond, in Orinda, Calif., the evening before she passed away.

She spent a joyful Christmas with her son and his family, including her new grandson, before she suddenly became ill. In the following days, she was comforted by visits to the hospital from her son, a good friend, a nephew, and four of her brothers.

A consulting librarian for natural sciences and kinesiology and a college archivist at Cornell’s Cole Library, Mary was known for helping faculty and students find the answers to their science questions, and acting as a mentor and advisor to students. From 2001 to 2010, she also taught courses as an adjunct instructor at the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science. She published several articles on library issues and presented papers at library conferences. In 2013 she achieved the status of full professor at Cornell.

She was on the executive board of the Iowa Library Association/Association of College and Research Libraries from 2008 to 2011 and in 2013, and had been a member of the Mount Vernon Historic Preservation Commission since 2011. She was also working with an Iowa team that was uncovering the participation of Iowans in civil-rights issues in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom March.

Born Mary Patricia Hammond on May 7, 1949, in Kenosha, Wis., she was the second of Eugene R. and Patricia V. Hammond’s 12 children and the oldest daughter. Mary’s childhood days were filled with many adult responsibilities: caring for her younger siblings, cooking for them, cutting their hair, and cleaning the house, alongside doing her schoolwork, enjoying a special group of friends, and playing the organ, piano, and cello.

Mary graduated from St. Mark the Evangelist Grade School in 1963 and from St. Joseph High School in 1967. She then attended Marquette University, along with Margo Hammond, her cousin and close friend. Mary’s high-school experience of working in the office of the orthodontist Dr. Baumgartner guided her toward a major in dental hygiene. To help put herself through college, she worked every summer, for two years as a waitress at Mars Cheese Castle and one year serving food at Great Lakes Naval Station, on a shift that began before dawn. She earned a bachelor’s of science in dental hygiene from Marquette in 1971. After graduation, she moved to Madison, Wis., where she was an instructor in the dental auxiliary programs at Madison Area Technical College for two years. She also learned Transcendental Meditation and later became a Transcendental Meditation teacher. For the rest of her life, she used meditation as a way to turn within, and she followed Ayurvedic practices of health. She enjoyed restful times at the Transcendental Meditation Program of Fairfield, Iowa.

Her son, Patrick Iber, was born in 1981, in Santa Cruz, Calif., during her marriage of 18 years to George Leland Iber. The family later moved to Fairfield, Iowa, and Iowa City. Mary proudly watched Patrick go off to Stanford University to earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and then the University of Chicago to earn a Ph.D. in history.

For 12 years, she worked as a library specialist at the testing organization ACT Inc., in Iowa City.

She earned a master of arts in library and information sciences from the University of Iowa in 2000 and joined Cornell College that same year.

A devoted daughter, she made many visits to Kenosha to care for her parents in their declining years. Her father preceded her in death in 2000 and her mother in 2009. Mary brought her large family together by devising homemade greeting cards and by updating a list of everyone’s contact information and birthdays annually. She had a sense of creativity and fun and liked to design elaborate costumes to wear to the library’s Halloween gathering. One year she hosted a foreign student, Smriti Angara, in her home, and she traveled to Hyderabad, India, in 2007 for an Indian celebration of Smriti’s wedding.

However large her own family, Mary always found room to bring others under her wing. She leaves behind her son, Patrick, and daughter-in-law, Nicole Louie, and her two young grandchildren, Isaiah and Julian Iber, all of El Cerrito, Calif.; her longtime companion, John Lediaev, of Coralville, Iowa; four sisters, Ruth Hammond, of Falls Church, Va.; Carol Wilson, of Elkhorn, Wis.; Theresa (Carolin Bouchard) Hammond, of Oakland, Calif.; and Barbara Hammond, of New York City; seven brothers, Eugene R. (Kathy) Hammond Jr., of Port Jefferson, N.Y.; Louis Hammond, of Romney, W.V.; George (Maria) Hammond, of Orinda, Calif.; Ralph Hammond, of Oakland, Calif.; Gary Hammond, of Ventura, Calif.; Bill (Cris) Hammond, of Hanover, N.H.; and Peter (Michelle Miller) Hammond, of Minneapolis, Minn.; 13 nieces and nephews; and many dear friends, cousins, library colleagues, and Cornell College students.

Arrangements for a private cremation are being handled by the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, Calif. Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, at the St. Gabriel and All Angels Church in Fairfield, Iowa, and at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1 at Cornell College’s King Chapel, in Mount Vernon, Iowa, with a reception to follow in Cole Library at 5 p.m.

Mary’s family has suggested making memorial donations in her name to Cornell College. Donations can be sent to:

Cornell College Advancement Office
c/o Dustin Ross
600 First St. West
Box 1664
Mount Vernon, IA 52314

26 Responses to “Mary Iber 1949-2014”

  1. Dan Hakken says:

    My Wife worked on a committee with Mary and both of us express our deepest condolences

  2. Jamie Kelly says:

    Mary was an amazing colleague. She will be missed beyond words.

  3. Andrew says:

    I spent two years as a student worker in Cole Library. Mary was always incredibly kind. She will be missed.

  4. Aubrey Kohl says:

    She always had a smile on her face. I will miss her smile.

  5. Angelica Hall says:

    You were such an amazing and sweet lady Mary! You will be missed by all Cornell students who had the pleasure of meeting you especially us Science majors! Thank you for all that you have done and had planned to do for us! You’re appreciated and missed dearly!

  6. Suzanne Vesely says:

    Mary was a very dear friend as well as a colleague. I have known her for 30 years–went to library school with her–never once knew her to have a negative comment to offer about anyone.

  7. Lisa White says:

    I worked with Mary on many projects in the archives. Mary was always up for a research challenge and would get a sparkle in her eye and a gentle smile on her face whenever she was presented with one. We had a long conversation just before winter break about the civil rights research she was conducting. She would get so excited every time she talked about it and I’m sad she will not be able to see it through. Thank you, Mary, for being such a wonderful colleague.

  8. Chuck Hakkarinen says:

    I met Mary at my son’s wedding in India to one of her “house students”. She was such a charming lady.

  9. Sue Coleman says:

    Always a smile, generous and wise. Your gentle nature and awesome sense of humor were a balm over the years I’ve known you. I will think of you often dear friend.

  10. Evans Ochola says:

    Mary Iber was a diamond and we have lost a diamond. Working with you was awesome! may the blessings of love be upon Mary and may its peace abide with her, death leaves a heartache no one can heal, Mary you are forever loved though this life fades away.

  11. Jean Donham says:

    Mary was a member of a team who sought to make Cole Library a welcoming place where the message was “Hello! We are glad you are here. How can we help you? We want to enrich your Cornell experience.” Mary lived this intention, and all who arrived at this place could quickly know it upon meeting her. We will all miss her special presence.

  12. Rachel Vagts says:

    Mary was a wonderful colleague. I met her through my work as the college archivist at Luther College. She was very dedicated to improving the archives at Cornell College and we will miss her warm smile and good conversation so much. My thoughts are with her family and friends.

  13. Addison Ault says:

    Mary was always interested in my projects, and was never too busy to see me. I will miss her…

  14. Dustin Waite says:

    Mary was always such a bright and cheerful person. She never blinked an eye when it came to helping students and their studies. As a science major I had many interactions with Mary during my tenure at Cornell and my thoughts go out to her family at this time. Just know she had an impact on many people’s lives.

  15. Marilyn Swanson says:

    I met Mary when she was in library school and I was on the SLIS staff. I was delighted when she was elected Vice President/President-Elect of Beta Beta Theta Chapter of Beta Phi Mu, International Library Science Honor Society, for the current academic year. Mary was such a lovely person – calm and serene, instilling through her aura a sense of confidence and well-being.

  16. Katrina Garner says:

    Mary approached every project, no matter how small, with the same enthusiasm and helpful attitude. I will miss her gentle, warm smile. How grateful I am to have known her!

  17. Holly Martin Huffman says:

    Mary was a kind, wonderful and talented person. I worked with her for three years, and each year my respect for her grew. I too will miss her.

  18. Charles Connell says:

    Very saddened to hear of this unexpected news. Mary was always so easy to talk to, such a warm and effervescent person. She will be missed.

  19. Jessica Rundlett says:

    Mary Iber made the Cole Library a welcoming place for me, a freshman well over her head in Introduction to Cellular Biology. Her expert guidance helped me through that class – and continued throughout my four years at Cornell. I am sad that she will no longer be a welcoming face when I return to Cole Library. God speed to her.

  20. Hugh Cox says:

    I’m fortunate that my path and Mary’s crossed many years ago. We were in the same class at St. Joseph High School in Kenosha, Wis. Even at 16, it was impossible to not notice that Mary was a kind, intelligent and gentle soul with a great sense of humor. Am not surprised that she touched the lives of so many people at Cornell College.

  21. Carol Lacy-Salazar says:

    I am so very sorry. Mary was such a lovely, gentle, highly capable and caring person. She will be sorely missed.

  22. Rachel says:

    Mary was a pleasure to work with at Cole Library throughout my undergrad. She always had a smile and never hesitated to help anyone in need. My thoughts are with her family and the Cornell community.

  23. Jessica says:

    I am truly sorry. I always remembered Mary as a bight spot on the Cornell Campus. Mary’s warmth and kindness permeated the atmosphere of the Cole Library. I always felt reassured by her cheerful disposition and the attentive guidance she gave to every student who came to her. I was touched by what a kind, sweet person she was. My deepest sympathies go out to her family and many, many friends.

  24. Julie Carr says:

    I was in some of the same classes as Mary when we were working on our Master’s Degree at the University of Iowa. She was a wonderful, warm person, and I enjoyed getting to know her. She graduated the year before I did, and I was thrilled for her when she was hired by Cornell. It was a job I know she loved. So sorry to hear of her passing, and my deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends and students.

  25. Jeff Walberg says:

    Mary was one of the first people I came to know in Mount Vernon, through our work with MV Citizens for Peace in the confusing months after 9/11. While Mary was not afraid to bring about change through politics and dissent, I came to admire her even more for her quiet and consistent model for peace by living it from the inside out–it was always a joy to receive her smile in the library or across campus. Even more, I knew her as a kindred spirit who delighted in science and rationalism while still holding to a more mystical relationship to the universe through her TM practice. She is deeply missed.

  26. Mike says:

    Mary was a wonderful person and will be sorely missed.