Mary Ann Harbel Kraft was born January 21, 1930, to Andrew Harbel and Anna (Shinn) Harbel of Sargent, Nebraska. Mary was the youngest of 8 children. Her siblings were John, Dean, Jessie, Lena, Charles, Maurice, and Ella. She grew up on a dry land farm in Nebraska during the Great Depression of the 30’s. She went to a little one room school where she and her brothers and sisters had to walk 1-1/2 miles to and from school as there were no school buses in those days. She learned many things on the farm: how to milk a cow, make butter, bake bread, how to make lye soap for laundry and dishes, how to care for the livestock. Her main love on the farm was their saddle horse Queen. She graduated from Taylor High School in Loup County in May 1947. She came to Sheridan, Wyoming, looking for work. She had hoped to be a secretary, but as she was only 17, everyone thought she was too young. She went to work at Birney, Montana, on the Ned and Libby Cox ranch caring for their 2 children, and this is where she met her cowboy husband George Kraft. They were married in 1948 and had 2 children, Kathleen & Ken. They moved to the Walt Taylor ranch at Kirby, Montana, in 1963 where they raised cattle and she worked as the ranch cook until George’s health began to fail. They moved to Sheridan, WY in 1975. In October 1975, Captain Murray Flag of the Salvation Army hired Mary to be the head cook for the first Senior Meals Program. During her time in that position she started the meals program in Ranchester for that area, as well as a meals program in Story and Big Horn. Mary served as Director in what was originally known as the Sheridan Senior Citizens Center for about 1-1/2 years and then moved into a brand new position as Outreach Worker in October 1978. She remained in that position until she retired in 1995.
Mary continued to serve the seniors citizens of Sheridan by becoming a member of the Board of Directors of the SSCC and she made frequent contributions to a series of newspaper articles in the Sheridan Press titled the Silver Threads. Mary enjoyed her years as an outreach worker getting to know so many people and being able to help them with the needs in their lives. She was a very happy and loving person who thought of others and put their needs ahead of her own.
George preceded her in death in 1994. She is survived by Kathleen (Dale) Gibson of Whitehall, MT and two step grandchildren, Shane & Shawn Gibson and their families, and Ken (Valerie) Kraft of Sheridan, and their children Laken & Taylor. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
A celebration of her life will be held at a later date.
Online condolences may be written at www.kanefuneral.com.
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with local arrangements.