Even as others flocked to the internet, Mary Kay Carr preferred shopping from paper catalogs.
The Kansas transplant, who moved to Farmington with her parents as a teenager in 1964, occasionally hit stores, Christopher & Banks where her best friend worked or the local Fleet Farm where she bought the cotton sackcloth needed to design her special dish towels for family and friends.
But her love was catalogs and garden nurseries, where she and her two daughters became giddy with plant and flower choices.
Carr worked part time for decades at what was Erickson's grocery and later Family Fresh Market. She ran the deli counter, set up produce displays and kept up with the customers.
The job, which she started around 1980 when her youngest child, Greg, was in kindergarten, "was perfect for her," said her oldest daughter, Nancy Rasmussen. "She had to keep her pulse on the gossip going on around town. She loved socializing."
Carr, married for 54 years, mother of three and grandmother to eight, died on March 24 after complications from leukemia. She was 72.
"I was devastated," said her friend and high school classmate, Shirlie Dunn. "We used to talk so often. She was funny, just so much fun to be around." Before COVID hit, Dunn and six other classmates had for years lunched together monthly. They recalled their school days when Carr and Dunn sewed and wore matching dresses and talked fashion.
"She always, always looked nice," Dunn said. "Mary Kay was one who always had to have her makeup. She would not leave the house without her eye liner." When she moved to Farmington,, Carr, then Mary Kay Knoettgen, created a high school fashion stir with white cat-shaped glasses.
Carr loved shoes, jackets and bright tops and counseled her two daughters and son to never "leave the house looking like a ragamuffin," Rasmussen recalled. Mary Kay graduated high school in June 1966 and a month later married her boyfriend, Navy man Richard Carr, whom she met on a blind date. He knew of the popular high school baton-twirler from afar, and developed a crush. But Mary Kay wasn't quite sure — until he ordered a burger during their first date at Porky's Drive-In on Lake Street in Minneapolis. "He took a bite and pulled it away from his mouth. The onions landed on his lap and my mom laughed hysterically. She liked him from then on," Rasmussen said.
They were married at St. Michael's Church and spent 54 years together in Farmington, raising Nancy, Karen (Roschen) and Greg in the rambler they bought up the road from Dairy Queen. They loved antique car shows, hit the road to visit Kansas and Colorado by car, and for 40 years celebrated Minnesota's fishing opener each May at Snowbank Lake in Ely. Their extended family, 20 deep, never missed a year, a fact captured during a 2018 episode of the Minnesota Bound television program.
Mary Kay Carr adored the family time but wasn't fond of fish. Instead, she fried chicken that coaxed her grandkids to drop whatever they were doing. Her brownie bars were legendary, and the supply of banana bread she kept in the freezer fed many a grandkid and, years ago, her son's football team. She hid candy in her kitchen for the grandkids to find and decorated the house for Easter. Easter was her holiday to cook the family dinner and she had planned to celebrate Sunday.
"All the decorations are up. She was ready," Rasmussen said.
Funeral services were held March 31 at the church where Mary Kay and Richard wed. She is survived by her husband, her children, sisters Rita Allen and Connie Stapleton, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.