Mary A. (Deyak) Omerza was born on March 15, 1922, in Ely, Minnesota, to Matt and Mary (Carr) Deyak. She grew up in rural Ely in Section 30 and 26 Location and attended Ely public schools. She was proud to display the pin she won for typing 100 words per minute on a manual typewriter!
She married Tony J. Omerza in Ely on April 17, 1940, and they settled into their first home in Ely. Mary was a homemaker, and she also worked at the Piggly Wiggly and Vertin’s. She was very active at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church and headed up the first production and printing of the very successful Ely Family Cookbook.
The Omerzas moved to Babbitt in 1963 when Tony was hired as the assistant chief of police. Mary commuted to Ely to work at Vertin’s until she was hired as a sales clerk for the new Montgomery Ward store in Babbitt. Soon, Mary became the owner of the agency. Mary loved working at the store and getting to know all the people in Babbitt. She often laughed that she had the entire local phone book memorized. She fondly remembered the good times she had working with Vi Hanson and Pat Eggebraaten. Mary was very proud of the many regional awards she won for her salesmanship, including Agency of the Year for several years, beating out rivals in several surrounding states.
Mary was active in the community as a member of the Businessmen’s Club and the Businesswomen’s Club. She was very involved in the Miss Babbitt Pageant for many years. She served as a board member of First National Bank of Babbitt for several years. She was selected as Babbitt’s Man/Woman of the year in1985. She was also committed to her work at St. Pius X Catholic Church, singing in the choir and serving on the church council and the Council of Catholic Women as well as many other committees over the years. She also revived the printing of The Ely Family Cookbook for St. Pius, and her home became distribution headquarters. She was integral in the planning and preparation of their annual spaghetti supper during Peter Mitchell Days, and she had her own booth at the annual Christmas bazaar entitled “Mitz’s Poticeria” which showcased her wonderful walnut potica. After she retired Mary enjoyed attending daily mass with all her friends. Mary took care of the flowers in church, lead the rosary and read scripture during services, and tended the altar cloths.
Mary and Tony retired in 1985. They traveled to both Seattle and Hawaii several times with friends. She enjoyed visiting with friends, attending Birthday club luncheons, and visiting with her children and grandchildren. Mary continued to be active in Babbitt until she moved to assisted living in 2012.
Mary enjoyed her home and family very much. She was an expert seamstress, cook, gardener, and housekeeper. She loved planting flowers in the spring, and we’ll not soon forget the dozens upon dozens of red geraniums that paraded in front of the Omerza home each summer. Perhaps her greatest claim to fame was her walnut potica. She made hundreds of loaves each year, filling orders for holidays and weddings. She would work at the store all day and be up late in the evenings, creating the most perfectly rolled poticas. She was featured in the Variety section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1997 which showcased her potica-making skills.
Mary was preceded in death by her parents, mother-in-law, Mary (Poderzay) Omerza, husband, Tony, sisters Ann, Rose, and Baby Deyak; sons, Danny, Gary, and Ronnie, and daughter, Jean; sisters/brothers-in-law Frank Petric, Frances & Joe Blank, Mary & Joe Jamnick, Rose & Aino Lassi, Joe & Irma Omerza, Helen & Sailor Maki. Surviving Mary are daughter Cindy (John) Stene of Grand Rapids, daughters-in-law Barbara (Ron) Omerza of Ely and Judy (Gary) Omerza of Scottsdale, AZ; eight grandchildren: Tom (Heidi) Omerza, Tim (Patty) Omerza, Jane (Greg) Mosher, Daniel (Vicki) Stene, Alexandra Stene, Francesca Stene, Roxanna Stene, and Mathew Stene, seven great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00 a.m. on Monday, October 8, at St. Pius X Church in Babbitt. Visitation one hour prior to service and lunch following the service.