Mary Ann Tank, 87, of Peoria, IL passed away on February 17, 2019.
The plain facts don't weave the story of a baby, born at home in Whittemore, IA on March 25, 1931, who slept in a drawer because she was too small for the crib. Or how that baby, Mary Ann Doyle, grew into a beautiful young girl, with a zest for life - and an Irish temper to match. Who tried to cancel her first date with destiny, the man who made her the sun in his world, yet fate, a/k/a her mother, insisted she go on the date as to not hurt his feelings. It doesn't tell the story of how after graduating from high school in Spencer, IA, the year 1949, followed her heart and worked hard as a switchboard operator for AT & T to save the money needed to help pay his college tuition, even though she would have excelled in school and longed to be a nurse. And as her love was sent off in the Army after high school, she postponed the idea of marriage until he returned. She sacrificed a big wedding for practicality - a small church service on August 31, 1954 to marry James Joseph Tank - just in time for the newlyweds to move to Iowa City and begin his college career. She audited his core classes selflessly so they could both work full-time and he could focus on accounting coursework.
In 1957, they chose to join Caterpillar Tractor Company in Peoria, IL, where she also worked as a switchboard operator. And as all young couples, they longed for children but sadly could not have any of their own. A woman of great faith, she knew the right answer was to adopt and gleefully became a mother to Lori Anne Tank on March 2, 1960. The little family traveled the world with his job and she didn't hesitate to pack their bags and move to Switzerland for a year.
She loved to travel and had many opportunities to visit far-away places throughout her life. Once settled back in the US, she was blessed again to adopt and expand her family - happily adding me in March of 1964, the day after her birthday! A brief move to Decatur, IL from 1965-1970, but from there forward, Peoria, IL was their home.
The years rolled by, yet tragedy struck their first born child. With a terminal diagnosis of a rare genetic disease, she was determined to provide her child with the utmost in care. For 17 years after the diagnosis, she fought ferociously, like a mama bear protecting her cub, to ensure her child had everything needed to live a high quality of life. There were many heartbreaking moments, that no mother could imagine facing - but with her unwavering faith and support of her husband - she greeted each day with a smile.
For 20 years, after losing her child in 1984, she continued to help others by volunteering at Procter Hospital. Her prince charming suffered many illnesses along the way, each time she helped him beat the odds with strength everlasting. She cared for his aging mother, her aging mother and never once hesitated to feel sorry for herself.
They spent another 20 years snow-birding in Arizona and were met by an abundance of friends. And after he passed, she carried those memories of world travel, abundant friends and her faith in God to get her through the lonely days without him. As for me, Connie Jo (Tank) Cook and my husband H.R., we provided her with her most treasured gifts - 3 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren. (Samantha (Cook) & Joe May plus little Easton; Alexandra (Cook) & Colby Melburn plus little Ava and Finleigh; and James (J.R.) & Kari (Keahey) Cook.
There are many great friends and relatives she's left behind, far too many to mention. But her very special friends, she considered family as well, and they provided her with great joy. Rich & Cindy Norton, Andrea Norton and Ashley (Norton) & Bobby Gregory. They feel our loss just as deeply. Although everyone else has gone before her (parents, bothers, a sister, husband and a daughter) she would tell you that she lived a wonderful life. Simple, humble, caring and genuine. She will continue to be an inspiration to all who knew her.
Mary Ann was a member of St. Vincent DePaul Parish in Peoria. Services will be private, with interment at Swan Lake Memory Gardens in Peoria. Memorial contributions may be made to EP!C in Peoria, formerly PARC.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Clary Funeral Home, 3004 West Lake Avenue in Peoria.