On July 4, we received the painful news that Mary Hirsch, the author of the Ingebretsen’s blog posts, the Ole and Lena jokes on Facebook, and the person whose gift for puns started the HaikUff-Da! contest, had died suddenly. Mary was a lifelong friend of Julie and Molly Ingebretsen. But even those of us who knew Mary just through working with her at the store, feel the loss of this witty woman who had unexpected takes on anything and everything.
Kate Running, our graphic artist, says, “I’m so very grateful to have gotten to know Mary Hirsch over the past few years. She would come in for our marketing meetings, which I always looked forward to because laughter was inevitable with Mary. There was never a dull moment with Mary around; from her take on Ole and Lena jokes to talking about how hot Kiefer Sutherland is. Beyond her humor, she was one of the most caring people I’ve met. She was quick to organize donation drives, like the knits for Australia. She reached out about my Covid wedding also, reassuring us that we’d still have a fantastic celebration. Her spirit is deeply missed, but I’m happy to keep her memory alive.”
One way Mary’s memory is kept alive is through her body of work – five one-woman plays at the Fringe Festival, including one entitled “Pull Yourself Up by The Bra Straps,” and numerous humor books. She wrote for A Prairie Home Companion, appeared at local comedy clubs, did stand-up at corporate events, and in Mary’s words, “performed in many elevators in the Twin Cities.”
Julie and Molly remember Mary honing her humor chops at an early age. Julie’s memories are like little snapshots – Mary’s love of elephants, of multi-colored glasses, and of quips at odd moments. “I remember a young Mary, lounging in our old aluminum rowboat at the lake as we prepared for a boat ride, saying “Peel me a grape!” From Molly, “I love Mary. We’ve known each other our entire lives because her parents and mine were part of the same high school gang. They taught us what friendship & wet-your-pants laughter looks like. What joy looks like.”
Besides a love of elephants and one-liners, Mary had a love of dogs. She had recently adopted a beagle, Daisy, who had been used for breeding in a puppy mill. Many times Mary kept us on task at meetings because her elderly pet had a vet appointment and she needed to leave at a certain time; Mary was going to make sure a previously neglected dog got the care she needed.
The tumult of 2020 has been difficult for everyone and Mary’s death has added to that sadness. However, she has left all of us a gift, which Molly summarizes beautifully:
Mary was a talented writer, performer and very funny, yes, but more importantly, she wielded her wit to spread love and joy. And she did it honestly. Just like our folks showed us. Her tag line: Humor is like a rubber sword, it can make a point without drawing blood.
The blog will continue with a new author, while striving to keep Mary’s spirit of love and joy.