Grace Raffety Maurer

Honored by:Margaret Maurer Semke
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When I was growing up in Laurens, Iowa (population 1800) I always knew my mother was a heroine. Some of my earliest memories are of accompanying her to meetings of the high school Y-Teen Club of which she was the advisor. Not only that she started the club and spent many hours in the 40's and 50's with these girls many of whom still stay in touch.

Her dedication to the YWCA began as president of the group at Penn College in Oskaloosa where she grew up and attended her first two years of college. She transferred to Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) where she served as president of the YWCA spending her summer breaks working at YWCA camps at Lake Okoboji, Iowa and also in Wisconsin and Vermont. She was also president of Mortar Board at Iowa State and for 60 years she has shared a "round robin" letter with four other members of the 1935 Mortar Board. To this day she sends a yearly contribution to the YWCA Penn College and Iowa State University.

After teaching home economics for three years she met and married my father Neil Maurer and they moved to Laurens purchasing the local weekly newspaper, The Laurens Sun, in 1940. During World War II while my father served in the Army Air Corps my mother ran the newspaper on her own from 1941 to 1945 receiving several industry awards as editor and publisher. They operated this weekly newspaper for over 35 years but that would not have been possible without her dedication during those war years.

Many times she considered picking up stakes with her young son and joining her husband when he was stateside but she stayed and worked hard a heroine most certainly. An incident that has been reported nationally was her story about a Japanese balloon that landed in a farmer's field near Laurens in February of 1945. It seems the balloon had an incendiary bomb attached with 19 of the 60 feet of fuse burned away an attempt by the Japanese to generate propaganda and create panic.

Members of Army intelligence and the FBI descended on the small community and asked that she honor the voluntary censorship the press had agreed to during the war and keep the story a secret. She held the story until the day the Japanese surrendered six months later. As a result of her heroic silence along with members of 300 other U.S. communities keeping silence the plan did not have other than a nuisance effect.

She has spent many volunteer hours working with various local organizations including her church the American Legion Auxiliary P.E.O. and the Order of Eastern Star of which she is a past matron. During the 50's she wrote complete scripts for the annual Lions Club show a local talent show/ fund raiser. In later years she and my father traveled extensively all around the world.

After his death she moved to Des Moines to be near the rest of her family: son, William P. Maurer; daughter, Margaret Maurer Semke; and four granddaughters all of whom are college graduates. As of this writing she also has one great-grandson. To this day she tells her four granddaughters "Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face. They all know this is their charge to enjoy life make a contribution and try to live up to her heroic example!