Mary Ione (Catherwood) Balk, 92, of rural Walker, Mo., passed away March 3, 2011, at Barone Alzheimer's Care Center in Nevada. She was born July 22, 1918, near Metz, Mo., the daughter of John Wray and Bernice Marie (Swarens) Catherwood. Graduating from Metz High School in 1936, Mary immediately began her teaching career at Belvoir, a county school with six students near Schell City. She taught for five years, attending Central Missouri State College at Warrensburg each summer until she married Vernon Wesley Hiram Balk on April 20, 1941.
Early in their marriage Mary and Vernon lived in Kansas City, Mo., where their sons, Gary Wray and Larry Vernon, were born. The family returned to Vernon County to live with Vernon's mother on the farm near the Ketterman community. Their daughter, Sharon Ilene, was born in Nevada, Mo. Mary returned to college, receiving her bachelor's degree in education from Pittsburg State Teachers College. She also taught at Starr and Green Valley country schools and Jefferson Elementary in Nevada. Even after retiring from the teaching profession, Mary continued to substitute at area schools.
Mary was a member of Berea Christian Church and after moving to Nevada, she and Vernon placed their membership at the First Christian Church. She enjoyed sewing, crocheting, knitting (making more than 300 baby sweaters) and quilting for which she won many awards. In their retirement years, Mary and Vernon loved to goose hunt and fish. She also loved spending time with and sewing for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She taught Sunday school classes and Vacation Bible School for many years and was also a 4-H project leader. She was a lifetime member of the Retired Missouri State Teachers Association.
Preceding her in death were her husband of 53 years, Vernon Balk; her parents, Wray and Bernice Catherwood; brother, Willis Catherwood; infant brother; and stepfather, Earl Agnew.
Survivors include sons, Gary Balk and wife, Ellen, Nevada, and Larry Balk and wife, Debbie, rural Rich Hill; daughter, Sharon Webb and husband, Dick, of rural Walker; seven grandchildren, Gary "Chip" Balk, Kelly Curbow, Tyria Thoreson, Tanya Webb, Troy Webb, Shane Balk and Bethany Balk; and five great-grandchildren, Matthew Waltrip, Justin Radspinner, Mary and Judi Thoreson, and Hunter Balk.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m., Monday, March 7, at the First Christian Church, Nevada. Interment will follow in Berea Cemetery, Ketterman, Mo. A visitation will be held from 6-7 p.m., Sunday, March 6, at Ferry Funeral Home, Nevada.
Those who wish may contribute to the Berea Cemetery Association in her memory, in care of Ferry Funeral Home, 301 S. Washington, Nevada.
View obituary and send condolences on line at www.ferryfuneralhome.com