Mary Ann Solberg, 87

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;

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.

Condolences to the family of Mary Ann Solberg, 87

  • Chelle Henderson Rosales says:

    My heart has a chunk missing today. I am so very sorry that lost another mom too many of us. Our families were always together so a mom for one was a mom to all. I hope all of the Solberg family hold close the many wonderful memories made and laugh a little at some of the fun. My thoughts are with you and I send my love to you.

  • Gladys Hansen Rimbey says:

    Dear family~Sometimes there are no words to express our sadness. Just know that I thought the world of MaryAnn (and Nels) and send love to their family. ❤️ Glad

  • Al and a Carol Arnzen says:

    Jan, Julie, Jill and Don. So sorry to hear Mary Ann passed away. She was a classy lady. Besides, she and Nels raised four great children. Nels and Mary Ann are now together. Take comfort in knowing she had a good life.

  • Judy Leuck says:

    Janet, Julie, Jill, and Don,
    The Leuck family sends condolences to you and your family on the passing of Mary Ann. Her obituary captures the many dimensions of her personality as well as her many accomplishments. She will be missed. I have a special memory of the last time I saw her, which was at her house the evening of Katherine Dave’s retirement party. Julie, you had invited me to stop by before I headed back to Clarkston. I am so glad I did. Janet and Don were also there. There was some really good popcorn as well as many stories and much giggling. That is the way I will always remember her. Judy Leuck

  • Terrie Robinson says:

    The Solberg family had a cabin next door to my family’s cabin (the Jack Robinson’s) in McCall. Even though you all were from Grangeville and we were from Boise, we got a chance to know each other through many connections. I loved how your mom was so fun and was such a great hostess to you kids and all of your friends. You knew how to have a great time on the lake! I loved the fact that Mary Lou was such an involved person in her community! I especially loved the fact that she was a P.E.O. and a great Democrat, and your parting words about her, making sure she got her vote “in” for the 2020 Election, was a true testament to her character. We will miss her! My thoughts and prayers are with you. Terrie Robinson

  • Mary and Bob Mangold says:

    Dear Don and Andrea: I’ve been on the east coast visiting my aging parents and happened to become aware that Mary Ann had passed. Its with deepest sorrow for your lovely family that this wonderful woman who made such lifelong impacts on our local community has left the earth. Bob and I are so sorry for your loss, and we send our very sincerest condolences to you and family, knowing that memories of Mary Ann and her good deeds and the friendships she made throughout the years are everlasting treasures that will be cherished.

  • Karyl (Asker) Masters says:

    Jan, Julie, Jill, Don and Families,
    I recently heard from my sister (Kerry) about your Mom’s passing, and am very sorry for your loss. We spoke of the amazing friend she was to OUR Mom (Milly Asker). They shared many activities, both philanthropic (Jay-C-ettes, PEO, Syringa Hospital board, United Methodist church) and FUN (horses, snow skiing, camping and the infamous “coffee group”). It is said you can judge a person by their ability to be an outstanding friend. Mary Ann was such a friend to my Mom, through tough times and lighthearted ones. She gave unconditional support, with a full hearted caring way, and always with her fun laugh or smile. She was such a blessing to so many….may those memories hold all of you up in the days ahead.
    Peace and Grace,
    Karyl (Asker) Masters

  • Eileen Uhlenkott says:

    A truly lovely lady.

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