Mary Dee Peyton


Private family graveside services for 95-year old Mary Dee Peyton of Gothenburg, NE, will be held later this fall.

At her request, Mary Dee will be cremated and interned at the Salem Presbyterian Church cemetery north of Gothenburg. 

The Berryman Funeral Home of Cozad, NE, is in charge of arrangements.

Mary Dee Shirley graduated from Robert Lee Paschal High School in Ft Worth, Texas, at the age of 19 on the 30th of July 1945. Later that same year, she married Mack Peyton Jr of Richmond, Indiana, on August 17, 1945, at the Post Chapel of Ft. Bragg in Muscogee County, Georgia by a US Army Chaplain. 

Mary Dee’s children always liked to tell the tale about the girl from Texas and the boy from Indiana meeting in Wyoming, marrying in Georgia and eventually living in Nebraska.

After Mack returned from WWII, he and Mary Dee lived in Wyoming while he attended the University of Wyoming to earn his teaching degree. His first teaching and coaching job was in Rock Springs, Wyo. 

In 1958/9, the Peyton family lived in Roswell, NM, where Mack taught and coached at the New Mexico Military Institute. After he received his master’s degree from the University of Wyoming in the summer of 1960, the family moved to Chadron, NE, where Mack was a coach and teacher at Chadron State College. 

Mack died in 1980 and 4 years later Mary Dee moved to Lexington to be near her children. In 2012 she moved into Assisted Living at Stone Hearth Estates in Gothenburg and in 2020, the Care Home at Hilltop Estates in Gothenburg became her home.

Mary Dee was the first person in her family to graduate from college, but didn’t start until 1960 at Chadron State in 1960. That was the same year her oldest daughter, Judy, beganhigh school as a freshman. The two graduated from their respective schools in 1964. 

Mary began teaching Earth Science and English at Chadron Public Junior HIgh that same year and taught there for a total of ten years.

Mary Dee and Mack loved to be out in nature. They liked to go rock and agate hunting around the Chadron aea. They enjoyed picnicking with their children and home movies show the family’s adventures in the hills of Wyoming. Fishing trips were in those movies also. 

Mack and Mary Dee also loved to bird watch and any outing involved keeping an eye out for the birds. One of the activities Mary Dee enjoyed was volunteering with her son Mark at the eagle viewing area south of Lexington. They also went many times to a blind on the Platte River to watch the Sandhill Cranes in the spring.

Mack taught Outdoor Education classes at CSC and Mary Dee was always involved in the classes. too. When Mack took his classes into the Wind River Mts of Wyoming, Mary Dee went along. Getting to the campground at the top of the mountain involved a long hike and sometimes a ride on a horse. 

She would sleep in a tent, cook over a fire, bathe in the lake, and participate in all the class activities along with the students. Two weeks later she would hike down the mountain back to civilization.

During the summers, Mary Dee and Mack would take graduate classes together including some in Michigan and Texas. They enjoyed visiting with near-by relatives in their time away from classes.

Mary Dee learned to play golf and enjoyed playing with Mack. She was in a golf league in Chadron along with her daughter, Becky.

One activity Mack could not get Mary Dee to do well was swimming. One time in the college’s old swimming pool, Mary Dee jumped off the diving board at Mack’s insistence. She went right to the bottom of the pool and stayed there. Mack had to swim down and rescue her. 

With Mack being a coach, Mary Dee and the children went to a bushel full of baseball and basketball games. The children received lectures on how to behave at the games. Of course, they did not always follow her instructions. They had been to too many games. 

One time, (she would say it did not happen) she gave them all a swat on the behind before they went to the game and promised more afterwards. 

Mary Dee loved to play cards and her mind and hands were quick on the draw. After moving to Lexington, she belonged to 5 bridge clubs. She loved to put puzzles together and dabbled in watercolor paintings too. She raised beautiful flowers everywhere she lived and belonged to the Iris Society in Lexington, raising Irises of many colors in her garden. 

Mary Dee liked to keep her hands busy and would crochet, knit, do counted cross stitch, or make quilts in her spare time. She attended several quilt conventions with her daughter, Judy. 

Crocheting was her favorite handwork and once had a goal of making 200 potholders of a certain pattern. They were made of cotton crochet thread (think doilies), and she had the pattern memorized. 200 potholders of all assorted colors. When the potholders were finished, she gave them away to whoever asked for one. She did not want to keep them; her enjoyment was in the doing. 

She also made 50 Barbie doll dresses and Mark took 25 of them to Cuba on one of his trips to that country.

Mary Dee developed macular degeneration in her eyes and had been treated for the disease for more than 15 years. She had been left with just a small amount of peripheral sight in one eye. She could not do any of her handwork and that is the one thing she missed the most as she grew older.

Daughter Becky lived next door to Mary Dee for 32 years in Lexington. Mark and his family would visit from Gothenburg and Judy would come from Arapahoe. Mary Dee called the area the Peyton triangle.

Mary Dee will be missed by her three children: Judith Lynn (Gary) Thompson, Rebecca Jo Peyton, and Mark Mandel (Cindy Baalhorn) Peyton. 

She had a basketball team of grandchildren. Warren “Mack” (Andra) Thompson, Casey William (Nicole) Thompson, Andrew Wade (Jennifer) Thompson, Reece Everett Peyton, and Alex Dean Peyton. Great Grandchildren include W. Mack’s sons, Malachi Lander and Noah Skyler Thompson, Casey’s children, Emily Ann, Tristin Miles and Peyton James Thompson, Andrew’s children, Cole Hunter and Paige Kenzie Thompson and Reece’s daughter, Emilia Jo Peyton.

Mary Dee was preceded in death by her husband Mack, her parents LeRoy and Bertha Shirley, and her siblings; brother LeRoy Stephen Shirley (Edna Earl), sister Billie Crickett Mills (Royce), brother Byron Kenneth, who was called Cy, and brother Jay Randol Shirley (Wanda). 

A special niece to Mary Dee is Cindy Dee Reichert of Arlington, Texas.