L-R Katie, Mary, Josie


Donor Contact: Katie Peterson
Mary’s mother was an educator and ensured Mary achieved the best she could be. The importance of education was passed on to Mary’s sister, Katie, who was inspired by the RVC’s RAISE* program to initiate a scholarship in Mary’s name. Each year it is funded by Katie and other family members.

MARY E. LUNDBY September 28, 1948 – October 29, 2012

Mary was born in 1948. It wasn’t long after her birth that she was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. It is usually associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features. Mary grew to be only 4’10" but had a heart that spilled over with love. She never met a stranger, just someone new who needed a hug. She was her happiest when dancing or singing. She loved cats and fresh flowers. Mary joined in family games by being the official thrower of the dice. She was very particular, some may say compulsive, about how her hair brush had to be stored, but she was unfazed by a move across country. Mary lived at home and was cared for by her younger sisters, living with Josie after the death of their parents, with respite care provided by her other sister, Katie. Mary was such a huge presence in her sister’s lives that she is still very much missed.

With the equivalent intellectual level of a third grader, Mary was home schooled until 1966 when Congress first addressed the education of students with disabilities by amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a grant program to assist states in the “initiation, expansion, and improvement of programs and projects . . . for the education of handicapped children.” Soon after, Mary was excited to attend a school dedicated to the education of those with special needs in Elkhorn, WI. After aging out of school, Mary was employed at a workshop for those with disabilities until at age 41 she announced she wanted to retire.

  • The Rock Valley Academic Institute for Successful Employment (RAISE) program is a collaborative initiative involving Rock Valley College, local not-for-profit organizations, and local school districts to provide opportunities for adults who have intellectual disabilities to participate in inclusive post-secondary educational opportunities, gain independent living and social skills, and develop the skills needed for competitive employment.