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.
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: