In Memory

Maryan Wherry

The many friends of the late Maryan Wherry, Orion, Illinois, are invited to join her family in celebrating her life on Saturday, March 7, 2020.  A Service of Song and Thanksgiving for her gifts and talents is at 10:00a at Beulah Presbyterian Church, 9221 148th Avenue, rural Orion.  Maryan seldom missed an opportunity to visit, tell stories, laugh, or “swap lies”, so we anticipate her spirit in our midst when gathering afterwards at the TaxSlayer Center, 1201 River Drive, Moline, between 12:30p and 4:00p.  Please feel free to wear your best “pepper pants” to either event.

Mitty was an artist.  A gifted potter throughout her life, she produced an ever-changing, unique portfolio of product, designs, and glazes.  A musician, she played guitar and served as choir director in her church.  She sang regularly with the Handel Oratorio Society and was a committed member of the Trinity Ringers Handbell Choir, Moline.
Dr. Wherry held advanced degrees from Illinois State University, and Bowling Green State University (Ohio).  She taught through many institutions in the Quad City region and the United States.  As a professor with the University of Maryland she taught American service men and women in Germany, Iceland, England, Cornwall, Italy, Spain, the Azores, and the Marshall Islands.  She willingly re-upped for repeated teaching assignments in Bosnia during the height of the war there.

As a research scholar, historian, and presenter, her interest in Contemporary American Culture and Women’s Studies found her speaking regularly throughout the Quad Cities and presenting at national literary conferences.  Her programs showcased her encyclopedic knowledge of unusual Quad City history.  Maryan served on the boards at the Rock Island County Historical Society, Arsenal Island’s Colonel Davenport House, the Western District Library, and Friendship Force Quad Cities.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, she was the fourth child of Richard F. and Doris M. Wherry.  Maryan is survived by her brothers Don and Chon (Sharon) Wherry, her sisters-in-law Diana Wherry and Donna Kerfoot, and close friends Marilyn Maus and Carol Schoening.  Her beloved nieces and nephews can all agree that it was never dull when Aunt Mitty was around.  Her parents, and her brothers Ross and Mike, received her into the glorious company of all the Saints in light.

Dr. Maryan E. Wherry:  daughter, sister, aunt, scholar, potter, teacher, author, friend.  Born December 24, 1956; died Friday, January 31, 2020. 


Dr. Maryan Wherry passed away on Saturday 1 Feb following a short battle with cancer. She taught as an annual faculty member in Europe and the UK for many years. Dr. Wherry was also a sponsor for annual faculty members who arrived annually in Heidelberg. She taught English and History classes and left UMUC in the early 2000s. A celebration of life for Dr. Wherry will be held in Moline, IL on 7 March. For more information contact: Amy Moorash (

go to bottom 
  Post Comment

02/08/20 08:34 AM #1    

Valerie Mock

While I really didn't know her, our few interactions were always pleasant and joyful. From our brief conversations in Heidelberg, I could tell she was a dedicated teacher who put the needs of her servicemen and women first. RIP, Maryan.

02/08/20 05:05 PM #2    

Maggie Smith (Hutchison)

I remember getting a call from her in the middle of the night asking for help. She'd finished her dissertation and it was on a 3.5" floppy (remember those!). It was stuck in the PC slot and when she took it out the plastic cover came off. She was in a panic. I'd just learned how to fix! Yay! She was a great individual and getting to know her was a privilege. Maggie


02/09/20 01:25 PM #3    

James A. "Jim" Moss

OMG!  Another Wonder Woman has succumbed much too early to the dreaded monster of Cancer.  My heartfelt condolences to all Maryan's family and friends from a fellow English and history prof.

02/09/20 03:50 PM #4    

Charles Brumfield

Maryan and I were assigned to teach in Adana, Turkey and the Azores at the same time, and I got to know her pretty well.  She had just left Bosnia when I was assigned there, but she gave me some good survival tips when our paths crossed in Heidelberg.  I haven't seen Maryan since the mid-1990s, but we communicated for awhile by slow mail.  When I moved to the Asian Division in 1996 and married in 2001, we lost touch.  I was always impressed by Maryan's intelligence and love of life.  I will miss thinking she's out there somewhere laughing and having fun, and someday we'd meet again.  I wish her well as she takes on the ultimate journey.  

02/10/20 12:12 PM #5    

Richard Schumaker


It's a mild and sunny February day in College Park, MD where I am in the McKelden Library researching a paper on "Trump and Literature" for an upcoming conference.  I was surprised and saddened to learn of Maryan's passing:  our paths crossed briefly at one of the fields sites in Germany, but I remember her well and very fondly. 

She was an excpetionally curious,committed, and cordial educator.   At those far-flung field sites, even the larger ones, the rapport between colleagues was not always the best;  between the responsibilites of teaching, pressures of working on a military base, and switching assignments often, it wasn't so easy to get to know one's colleagues.  Maryan was a refreshing presence amidst all this.  She was extrmely interested in the students at many levels--pedogogically, psychologically, and simply in general.  She was very perceptive about the demographics of the various MD sites.  She and I had many really interesting conversations about this.  Second,  she was an incredibly committed teacher.  I used to run into her in the library while she reviewed her notes and worked with students.  Third,  I remember the way she graciously reached out to everyone--MD faculty, CCC faculty, military staff, MD staff.  Her presence made an incredible difference to the teaching and learning atmosphere in a very short time.

I appreciate the long piece on Maryan posted on "Overseas Marylanders."  I had a basic idea of her background but the additional detail adds to my understanding of this unique and warmly remembered professor.



02/16/20 06:16 PM #6    

Cheryl R. Powell

My path crossed with Maryan (Mitty) on numerous occasions while we taught in Europe and I was lucky to call her a close friend. We met at Heidelberg orientation in August 1993. My first impression of her was not good. She was loud, irreverent and obnoxious (i.e. she was a “pushy broad”), but her indomitable spirit and zest for life quickly endeared her to me. We would continue to be placed in each other’s paths for the next three years. We (along with fellow cut-up, Ray Fox) helped host new Maryland faculty at orientations for two more years, were assigned to work in Würzburg and Adana during the same terms and explored Europe together. Here’s how I’ll remember Mitty:

Bold, brassy, boisterous and cheeky . . . Just when she was getting on your last nerve, she’d turn around and do something so very selfless and thoughtful, or, make you laugh till you peed your pants. Then you couldn’t for the life of you remember just why you were upset with her.

Adventurous, plucky, audacious . . . Mitty was a risk-taker and took the path less traveled. Anything you did with Mitty was an adventure, never dull, and she approached it with carefree abandon. Chasing bats in our Adana apartment, or taking make-it-up-as-you-go road trips to Nemrut Dağ in Turkey (with fellow Marylanders, Charles Brumfield and Robert Mellon) or to the Loire Valley in France come to mind.

Creative, imaginative, resourceful . . . If you were on an excursion with her and were hungry or couldn’t find a toilet in the middle of nowhere, never mind. She’d pull out her backpack where she had squirreled away (“acquired” from the hotel) a couple spare sandwiches made from the bröchen, cold cuts and cheese from breakfast that morning or toilet paper from the hotel bathroom.

Curious, inquisitive, perceptive . . . Mitty saw things through a child’s eyes and continually wanted to know why or how something worked. She loved the toys in Kinder eggs, wondering what toy was inside and relishing the thrill of putting it together. In fact, she kept one of her favorite “twirlly” kinder toys taped to the dash of her car and delighted in how it would swing when she took corners much too quickly in her little Fiat Panda.

Caring, kind-hearted, generous . . . Maryan would go out of her way to do things she thought you’d enjoy, even if it meant giving up what she wanted. If you were happy, she was happy.

Clever, intelligent, quick-witted . . . Mitty had a brain that would not quit. Life was a puzzle to her, and she loved trying to figure it out. She was accomplished in so many areas and could achieve anything she set her mind to. And don’t even think about telling her she couldn’t do something as she would quickly prove you wrong. More than anything, she was passionate about teaching and her students, making sure they were equipped with the skills they needed to succeed (even if they weren’t pleased about how hard she made them work to get there).

Like Charles Brumfield, I thought that one day Mitty and I would meet again. Sadly, that was not to be (at least in this lifetime). That missed opportunity reinforces the importance of her mantra of embracing life fully. May her spirit challenge each of us to incorporate her child-like wonder into our own lives.

02/17/20 04:36 PM #7    

James A. "Jim" Moss

Hello again colleagues.  This is a comment on my fellow commenters:  Great comments and wonderful tributes to Maryan!

go to top 
  Post Comment