Town bleeds purple for Mary Kay

Jen Kocher

The first thing Jake and Carl Federer noticed when they returned home to Glenrock last week was the row of purple flags lining Birch Street. Still numb from the past 24 hours and the inexplicable, sudden loss of their mother, Mary Kay Kindt, they were awed by the spattering of purple ribbons and other shows of Herder Pride along the bridge and tied along various fence posts. Handwritten notes were scrawled in purple marker on windows and on poster boards hanging in downtown store fronts.

“Mary Kay,” one note from Rich Arnold reads, “you meant so much to this community. We are heartbroken.” Another from the Zdrojewski family: “Mary Kay, the ‘rock’ of our little community. We love you.” It seemed like there were thousands of personal messages that people, young and old, had written all over town.

A humongous purple flower bouquet rested on the doorway in front of the chamber office, where for the past 15 years Mary Kay had devoted to doing work for the town she so deeply loved. That remembrance touched the Federer brothers, who were positively stunned by the support of their community and the sheer volume of the turnout.

It hit them at that moment. The impact of mother’s death extended far beyond their family. The whole community was in mourning.

“I always knew that mom did a lot of things,” Carl said, pointing to her job as a bus driver for the high school, her work as the Glenrock chamber director, and her tireless efforts to promote school activities and student accomplishments on the Facebook page Herder Pride. “But I had no idea how many people she had touched, many who I don’t even know.”

To say that Mary Kay single-handedly ran the Town of Glenrock’s social calendar is hardly a stretch. From tirelessly arranging every event in town – including the mega-three-day celebration Deer Creek Days – to attending dozens of school activities and sports events to assure that every accomplishment was proudly plastered on Herder Pride, Mary Kay also was the keeper of the schedules. Anyone who wanted to know the time or date of something, simply called Mary Kay. Likewise, if you needed information, Mary Kay knew who you should talk to and had that person’s phone number.

She played the same role in the family, Carl said. Every day, he and his siblings would check in with her, not a day passed where she didn’t know where one of them was.

“It feels strange to lose that connection,” Carl said, shaking his head. “We’re just all a bit lost.”

Less than a week after Mary Kay’s death, the letters and messages to their family continued to flow. Carl points to a letter from a childrens evangelical fellowship organization in Casper, where they had no idea she even volunteered. They sent their condolences along with a copy of her original application from more than a decade ago in which Mary Kay had declared her commitment to faith and serving others through God in a variety of her answers, which in the family’s mind pretty much sums up their mother exactly. “She always said she would be just fine no matter what as long as she had God on her side,” Jake said.

“She lived her life true to her word and did everything she could to help others.”

They joke about how hard it is going to the grocery store right now without getting hugged. This morning Jake figures he got about eight hugs when he went to get some coffee creamer, and Carl laughs that the same thing happened to him. They joke about sending their other brother Jimmy next time.

“It’s nice,” Jake added, though a bit overwhelming as they try to come to terms with their own grief.

First thing is getting over the shock of the events leading to the sudden death of their formerly indefatigable, tirelessly hard chipper mother, who many inside and outside of the family referred to as the “Energizer Bunny.” She hadn’t been feeling well that morning (July 12), so she made an appointment to go later in the day to a doctor, but after her symptoms began to escalate, her sister took her early. Doctors were at a loss to diagnose her and sent her by ambulance to Wyoming Medical Center, where her heart stopped. She was resuscitated and put on life support. As the family gathered around Mary Kay, they weren’t too worried initially because no way would their mother ever give up.

“Every 15 minutes, I was waiting for her to pop up in her bed and say, ‘Gotcha,’” Jake said. But the minutes kept ticking away, and nine hours later, they realized she wasn’t joking around. The family agreed to take her off of the ventilator at 4:26 p.m., though true to Mary Kay, she gave it every last ounce of energy she had, hanging on for the next several hours until she was departed at 1:33 a.m. Friday. As of now, the doctors have no idea what caused her death, and so far, every test they’ve done rules out one cause or another, so the mystery remains.

The suddenness of it all hits them like a bomb, but as Carl pointed out, the last thing their always upbeat and highly spirited mother would want them to do is to sit around holding a pity party.

“Everyone is asking each other what we’re all going to do without her?” Carl shrugged. “We’re going to do what mom would want us to do: put on our boots and go to work.

“That’s what she’d do.”


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

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