Mary Lou Stover Tribute

Mary Lou Stover

A tribute by her friends

Mary Lou Stover 81, of Muskego, Wisconsin, and formerly of Towanda, passed away at her residence Wednesday February 4, 2009.  She was laid to rest at the Pennell Cemetery in Towanda, IL.  Mary Lou graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with BA and MA degrees.  She was the former co-owner of the Abingdon Argus and a former editor-in-chief of the Community Newspapers Wisconsin.  Memorials may be made to the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association, Endowment Fund for Preservation – The Mary Lou Stover Memorial Fund.

Association members responded with the following:

Dave Heckel wrote, Mary Lou Stover was appointed as the Editor of The Gristmill starting with issue # 14 in December 1978 and edited 21 issues before stepping down in December 1983. She began another term with issue # 74 in March 1994 and edited 43 issues until her final retirement with issue # 116 in September 2004. Mary Lou began the change from the manila colored issues to the glossy paper three-column look of the magazine. Mary Lou also instituted the color pages and cover that we know today. Along with the help of Carol Lomax, the style and shape of the magazine changed. Her leadership in the transformation of The Gristmill and her involvement with the Executive Committee was an example for all members to follow. She was always a quiet, behind the scenes member who wanted our organization to prosper. For that special ability, Mary Lou was presented with the Marion Henley Award in September 1995. After serving 15 years and editing 64 issues as The Gristmill Editor, she decided to retire from that position.

“I will always remember Mary Lou for her desire to make The Gristmill the best tool collecting publication around,” remembers Dave Heckel Past-President and Past-Editor. She impressed upon me when I took over the position, “That M-WTCA comes first.” Her knowledge and grasp of the history of M-WTCA always was amazing, along with her ability to get along with everyone.

Gary Kane remembers his dear friend with these words.  I can not begin to cover in a few words, all that Mary Lou has contributed to the M-WTCA organization over the years or due justice to the woman so many of us considered a great friend. As most of the M-WTCA members know, Mary Lou was the editor of The Gristmill for years. She, along with her good friend Carol Lomax, ran the Area B St. Francis, WI meet for years and Mary Lou continued to run the meet after Carol’s death. When I took over operating the Area B St. Francis, WI meet, the transition was made easier because of all the assistance and information I received from Mary Lou and Sue (Tubman) Nelson. Even after I took over the meet, Mary Lou was always the first person to offer her help.

Although Mary Lou contributed to the M-WTCA organization in many ways, her largest contribution had to be as editor of The Gristmill. Her first stint as editor began in 1978 when the magazine consisted of 8 pages. Her last issue was the 2004 September issue which contained 44 pages and four color photos. Obviously, Mary Lou was instrumental in creating the quality publication we all enjoy today.

All of us who were fortunate to know Mary Lou, will never forget her smile even though she suffered from arthritis. Over the years, Mary Lou was seldom seen without her favorite companion, her beloved dog. I have never heard any negative comments about Mary Lou even when she would walk by you with a prize tool you were hoping to buy. It is the contributions by people like Mary Lou that have made the Mid-West Tool Collectors Association the quality organization it is. Mary Lou was not only a wonderful person but also one great gal who is going to be dearly missed by all of her family, friends and M-WTCA.

Starting in February 2010, the official title for the Area B St. Francis, WI meet will be, “The Mary Lou Stover & Carol Lomax Memorial Tool Meet.”

Eric M. Peterson, MD offers these memories. I have been a M-WTCA member since 1969 and as such have been a friend of Mary Lou’s for many years.  At each meeting that we attended over the years, Mary Lou always arranged a small dinner party.  We corresponded several times a week, and at her request, I frequently contributed articles to the Gristmill.  So I have enjoyed a long friendship with her. “Neville and I have lost a friend of many years.  Mary Lou was a real lady.  Despite her severe, painful and chronic illness, never once did I ever hear her complain.  She faced her problem head on and made the best of it.  It did not limit her in spirit or interests.  Mary Lou was always willing to give of her professional help and she truly loved M-WTCA and its members.  Many of us will miss her a great deal.  Through her efforts she always made our lives a bit more pleasant.”

Harriot Baker remembers Mary Lou as a member of the Mount Vernon Committee which then became Mid-West Preservation & Education Committee. Mary Lou never missed a meeting that I know of and certainly as long as I have been on the Committee. Mary Lou contributed greatly to the Committee. Two things I remember; I had no idea what kind of tools she liked or if she did at all, I just accepted her and loved her as editor of the Gristmill. Then one day at one of our meetings at St. Charles, I saw this little lady with the biggest smile I ever saw, coming towards me with a marvelous plow plane and knew then, she was in heaven. Two years ago she got herself a riding lawnmower. She loved running that machine.  She told me how great it was just about every time I saw her.

John and Janet Wells shared this; Mary Lou was a wonderful person, a very good friend, and a terrific supporter of M-WTCA.  We are deeply saddened at her unexpected passing. Mary Lou was a very good friend and it is very hard to lose her.  I remember working with her when she was the editor of the Gristmill.  Everyone loved her.  She will be greatly missed.


Ed Hobbs writes; Mary Lou was a wonderful friend to anyone she met and an inspiration to all in her service and dedication to M-WTCA. It goes without saying that she will be greatly missed.


Bob and Kathy Valich had this to say. We are deeply saddened to hear the news that Mary Lou is no longer with us. Kathy has always said that Mary Lou was (and still remains) her idol. She admired the excellent job that Mary Lou did as editor of the Gristmill. We will both miss seeing Mary Lou at the tool meetings.  She was definitely an asset to M-WTCA.


Willie Royal wanted everyone to know that for many long years Mary Lou was the spike that held it all together.  She was dedicated to MWTCA and demonstrated loyalty and determination in her every effort regarding MWTCA.  She was a class act and was, to some degree, my crutch during my tenure as President.  She was smart, gifted, and dedicated to whatever task was at hand.  MWTCA and all of us that had the pleasure to have known Mary Lou have lost a leader and a friend.