Mary Higley Rosser

February 25, 2021


Mary Higley Rosser, age 89, died Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 near her home in Shoreview, Minn. She passed away peacefully with her beloved family by her side within days after suffering a stroke. Mary Ann Petersen was born Dec. 21, 1931 in York Township near Minden, Iowa, the daughter of Erwin H. and Martha (Kay) Petersen. 

Mary enjoyed learning throughout her life. She graduated from Minden High School, class of 1949. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder from 1949-1950, then the University of Iowa, graduating with a degree of bachelor of arts in education in 1953. Mary attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating with a degree of bachelor of music in theory and performance in 1972.  At UNO she also received a degree of master of music in choral conducting in 1989. 

As you can gather from her education, choral music was Mary’s passion.  In 1972, she founded and directed the chamber choir “The Century Singers,” which specialized in a cappella singing and presented more than 30 concerts in the greater Omaha - Council Bluffs area.  

In Omaha, Mary was a member of the choir at Dundee Presbyterian Church. She was a soloist at All Saints Episcopal Church and First Central Congregational Church. Mary was a choir director at Lord of Love Lutheran Church and Benson Presbyterian Church. She was also a member of the choir at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. She greatly enjoyed fellowship with Rev. Kim Roberts at St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church. 

In Saint Paul, Mary was a performing member of the Oratorio Society of Minnesota, and a member of the choir at Hamline Church United Methodist.   

When she wasn’t singing or conducting, she was an elementary school teacher, a special education teacher, a licensed real estate agent, the proprietor of a residential cleaning service, the host of a classical music radio broadcast at KVNO, a computer programmer, and a software quality assurance specialist.  All the while she was a loving mother and grandmother, and the matriarch of the extended family. 

Still able to drive, Mary successfully remained fully independent.  She did not want to settle for less than that, and now by the grace of our loving God, she will not have to.             

Mary is survived by her children (and their spouses): Margaret (Vince) Farnsworth of Montrose, Colo.; Charles Higley (Sarah DeKraay) of Madison, Wisc.; Alan (Erin) Higley of Shoreview, Minn.; her grandchildren: Adam, Matthew and Andrew Higley; many loving extended family members, and many caring friends.  

Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Erwin H. and Martha Petersen, and her siblings (and their spouses) Erwin A. (Marceda) Petersen, Robert (Leona) Petersen, Rosella (Donald) Storjohann, and Waldo Petersen. 

Visitation, funeral service, and inurnment will be at a later date in Minden, Iowa.  In lieu of flowers, memorials can be given to St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church, Omaha.


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