Mrs. Mayola Clementine Kolbe, beloved wife of Walter Kolbe and cherished mother of four, passed into the arms of her Lord on Jan. 25, 2012, at University Medical Center in Tucson, Ariz., after a very brief and courageous fight with lung cancer.
A private family memorial service was held at her home in Hereford, Ariz., and a public celebration of May’s life is planned for this summer at the San Pedro River Inn.
May was born May 5, 1934, in Hillsboro, Ill., to Italian immigrants Hugo Peter Dalla Piazza and Emma Erminia Pancheri. She attended Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., on a music scholarship and graduated Cum Laude from Millikin and the University of Illinois, Champaign, where she earned her M.S. in Education.
May began her professional career as a music teacher in Illinois, and transitioned into health care when she began work at McFarland Zone Center, doing activity therapy with emotionally disturbed children. She was promoted to unit administrator, and thus began her transition into a life-long career in health care administration.
She met her husband, Walt, while they both lived in Illinois, and 40 years ago they combined their families when their children were 6, 7, 9, and 10 years old. In 1995, they moved from Morris, Ill., to Arizona, where Walt had spent most of his life. They purchased the old Hereford Dairy Farm and turned it into the San Pedro River Inn.
May worked in numerous health care settings including St. John’s Mercy Hospital St. Louis, Decatur Memorial Hospital, Morris Hospital in Illinois, and retired from Copper Queen Community Hospital (CQCH) in Bisbee, Ariz., after 15 years of service to her community.
As the director of administrative services at CQCH, May’s professional legacy reaches far and wide. May successfully led grant teams whose efforts raised over $4,000,000 for the hospital, and she was instrumental in the formation of the CQCH Palominas Rural Health Clinic.
She was a devoted member of the International Chapter P.E.O. Sisterhood Chapter T Bisbee, Business and Professional Women (BPW) Foundation and Trinity Orthodox Lutheran Church.
May was best known for her grace and kindness, which was magnified by the jovial nature of her beloved husband, Walt. Throughout the years, hundreds of friends, neighbors, and strangers shared the graciousness of her table and the music of her piano.
Walt and May enjoyed a cruise across Scotland in October 2011. The picture above was taken at the Captain’s Dinner during that cruise.
To her family, May was, without a doubt, the most loving mother and grandmother one could ever ask for. Her greatest pride and joy were her children and grandchildren, and her roles of caretaker, world’s most devoted cheerleader, cookie and cupcake baker, and voice of reason. May left this earth surrounded by her loving family. All will miss her care, compassion, and generous heart.
May is survived by her beloved husband, Walter, of Hereford, Ariz.; daughters Laura Nelson (Britt) of Austin, Texas, Susan Kolbe of Phoenix, Ariz., and Becky Davis (Ben Gaynes) of Phoenix, Ariz.; son Daniel Kolbe (Julie) of Key West, Fla.; grandchildren Megan, Katie, Austin and Audrey; brother in-law Jim Kolbe of Tucson, Ariz.; sisters-in-law Beth Kolbe of Tucson, Ariz., Mary Kolbe of Phoenix (John – deceased); and her beloved guard dog Copper.
Obituary copyright © 2012 Morris Daily Herald. All rights reserved.