January 15, 1939 – December 18, 2020
Mary Blanche Ansari passed away peacefully at home on December 18, 2020, while holding hands with her husband, Nazir. She had been fighting a heroic battle with lung cancer, though she had never smoked a day in her life.
Mary was born in Lincoln, Illinois on January 15, 1939 and lived there until she moved away to pursue higher education. She received her bachelor’s and MLS degrees from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and MBA from Western Michigan University. While she was working at the University of Illinois, she met her future husband, Nazir A. Ansari. The couple had a long and happy marriage and were fortunate to live to celebrate 60 wedding anniversaries.
Her professional career was spent as a librarian and library administrator at the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries. In 1990, she was elected president of a national professional organization, the Geoscience Information Society. The Society’s Distinguished Service and Best Reference Works awards bear her name. While working, she and her husband made their home in Reno where they were active in the community and philanthropy. After retirement, she and her husband moved to Incline Village, Nevada to take advantage of the recreational opportunities at Lake Tahoe. There they spent many happy years on the beach and hiking and snowshoeing in the Sierra. In Incline Village she became an advocate for the black bears and was active in NoBearHuntNV.org and was a member of the Bear League. She was active on the Incline Village Hospital Foundation Board, was trustee and secretary-treasurer of the Nazir and Mary Ansari Foundation and served as a board member for Educational Pathways International. Along with her husband, she was recognized as Distinguished Nevadan by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, received the Desert Research Institute’s President’s Medal and was honored by Jr. Achievement of Northern Nevada. She was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of Nevada, Reno.
Mary’s passions were hiking and snowshoeing with her husband in the Tahoe Basin and caring for her home and her pet cats. Recently, for winter use, they bought a home in Indian Hills, Nevada with a breathtaking, 280 degree view of Freels and Jobs peaks, the Carson River flood plain, the Sweetwater and Pine Nut mountains, Hot Spring Mountain and Prison Hill. With her husband, she travelled extensively, both domestically and abroad. Her hobbies were reading, writing, gardening and planning home remodels. She was the author of several books on the origin of Nevada geographic names, the most recent of which was published in 2015. She lived to see the publishing of her novel, The Bobwhite Doesn’t Always Sing (LeRue Press), which is a personal account of her own triumphs and tragedies.
Preceding her in death were her parents, Reinhold and Blanche Schweikert of Lincoln, Illinois; her son, Eric Michael Spellman of Middletown, Illinois and her brother, Robert F. Hogarth of Howe, Oklahoma. It was Mary’s wish that any celebration of life be held outdoors steeped in nature, with attendees sharing some humorous stories about her so that everyone gets some good laughs; it will be scheduled at a later date due to pandemic restrictions. In lieu of flowers, consider supporting one of the following: the Incline Village Community Hospital Foundation, 880 Alder Ave., Incline Village, NV, 89451; NoBearHuntNV.org, P.O. Box 394, Zephyr Cove, NV, 89448; the Low Income Families and Neighborhood Program of the Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada, 605 Washington St., Reno, NV, 89503; Junior Achievement of Northern Nevada, 1575 Delucchi Lane, Suite 207A, Reno, NV, 89502; The Children’s Cabinet, 1090 S. Rock Blvd., Reno, NV, 89502.