Our beloved mother, Mary Ann McNair Solberg, passed away unexpectedly at her home on October 3, 2020 at the age of 87. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and brother. Mary Ann was born on June 12, 1933 in Aberdeen, Washington to Hugh McNair and Sarah Murphy McNair. Her family moved to Boise when she was in fourth grade and she graduated from Boise High School in 1951. She then attended the University of Idaho where she met her husband Nels L. Solberg at a snowball fight between her sorority and his fraternity. They were married June 12, 1953 in Boise and made their first home in Laredo, Texas where he was stationed as a lieutenant in the Air Force. After Nels was discharged, they lived briefly in Kamiah and Moscow before settling in Grangeville in 1957 where they raised their four children.
Soon after moving to Grangeville, Nels and Mary Ann bought a local insurance and real estate agency which later became the Solberg Agency Inc. In 1972 they built a home Mary Ann helped design on a ranch several miles out of town. She was elected to the Syringa General Hospital Board of Directors and the University of Idaho Alumni Board of Directors. She was also President of the Jay-C-Ette’s and Vice-President of the Idaho and Lewis County Democrats. When her kids were growing up she was a Bible School Teacher, a member of the PTA, and a Bulldog Booster. Mary Ann was a constant fan and supporter of her kids and their friends at football, basketball, and baseball games, as well as swim team events, rodeos and barrel racing events. Mary Ann was not just an observer, though, she loved to snow ski, water ski, boat, and camp.
Mary Ann had a fun outgoing personality. Resilience, hard work, intelligence, determination, humor, and commitment to family are just a few of the other defining characteristics she demonstrated throughout her life. In 1983 at 52 years old, Nels passed away. To make sure the family business would survive until her son could finish college in 1985, Mary Ann became licensed to sell insurance and real estate. She achieved her goal in 1986 when Don and Andrea Solberg bought the Solberg Agency, and she began a new career as a Sales Representative for the Idaho County Free Press for twenty years before retiring in 2003.
Once retired, she enjoyed visiting and traveling with her Pi Beta Phi sorority sisters and keeping connected through her weekly coffee group with friends in Grangeville. She traveled to sporting events all over Idaho to cheer on her grandchildren. She was a member of the United Methodist Church and B.V chapter of P.E.O.
It was very important to Mary Ann that a good education be available to everyone. She was proud that her four children were University of Idaho graduates and all her grandchildren graduated from college, four from the University of Idaho! In 1984, she established the Nels L and Mary Ann Solberg Scholarship at the University of Idaho, prioritized for junior and senior level students in the College of Business from Idaho and Lewis counties. Close to 50 local students have been able to complete their college degrees because of this scholarship fund.
Mary Ann was preceded in death by her husband Nels L. Solberg, parents Sarah and Hugh McNair, brother Hugh (Veta) McNair, and mother and father in-law Nels and Mabel Solberg. She is survived by her children, Don (Andrea) Solberg, Jill Solberg Donahue, Julie Solberg (Dave Hayes), Jan Solberg; grandchildren Ben Donahue (Amaia), Molly Banet (Nate), Nels Solberg, Nichole Solberg, Sam Solberg, Jeremiah Jones (Monica), Ann Hayes Bell (Willie), Margaret Hayes Thombre (Rahul); eight great grandchildren; and in-laws Charlotte Jackle (Jerry), John Solberg (Shirley) and Inga Mansker (Gary).
A private family service and celebration of Mary Ann’s life has been scheduled for immediate family members. However, there will be a viewing open to the public at Blackmer Funeral Home on Thursday, October 8 from 3:00-5:00 PM. If you would like to otherwise honor Mary Ann’s life please take some time to visit with a friend or family member and share a smile and laugh or consider making a contribution to the Grangeville Community Foundation (P.O. Box 487, Grangeville 83530) or the University of Idaho Nels L. Solberg and Mary Ann Solberg Scholarship (875 Perimeter Drive, Moscow ID 83844; www.uidaho.edu).
Mary Ann Solberg was a class act. We think it says so much about our Mother, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother that one of the last things she did on the day she died was walk from her home to the Grangeville Post Office and back to mail her ballot for the 2020 election.