Born: January 8, 1937 (eldest of six children)
Place of birth: Hammond, Indiana
Parents: Dolores Bogner Klitch and Michael William Klitch
Mary spent her early life in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Ohio as her father's company moved the family frequently. She graduated from St. Augustine High School Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1954, but began working at Borgess Hospital Kalamazoo, Michigan as a senior in high school and continued until January 1960. Mary began college classes in 1956 at Western Michigan College while working at the hospital. She married Alan G. Atherly August 29, 1959, and moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she attended college classes at University of North Carolina and worked at North Carolina Memorial Hospital while Alan attended graduate school.
Her daughter, Jill Elizabeth, was born November 24, 1964 in Chapel Hill. Shortly after, Mary and her family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, for two years and then to Eugene, Oregon, in 1966, where she attended University of Oregon from 1966 to 68. Mary and family moved to Ames, Iowa, in August 1968 and she continued to attend university classes at Iowa State University.
She and Alan adopted a son, Todd Alan, born February 20, 1970. Mary completed her BBA degree and graduated from Western Michigan University in August 1971. Mary began volunteering her time to the Parent Teachers Association, League of Women Voters and Children's Theater after moving to Ames in 1968. She served on the board of Crawford School PTO, board of directors of Children's Theater and the League of Women Voters of Ames.
Her interest in city government arose out of her participation in numerous studies of city government sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Ames. City of Ames Mayor Bill Peiz appointed Mary to the Ames/University Bikeway committee in 1975, which she co-chaired assisting in writing the first bikeway plan for the city of Ames. Mary ran for the Ames City Council and was elected to represent the Third Ward in 1977. She was re-elected to a second term in 1981. Ames Mayor Paul Goodland appointed Mary to the position of mayor pro-tem in 1980, serving six years until she retired from Council.
Mary is one of two women ever to serve as mayor pro-tem in Ames. Fellow council members appointed Mary as a member of the first board of directors of the then newly formed Ames-ISU Transit Agency, where she served for four years. During this first four years of the Transit Agency, Mary assisted in hiring the first transit director and developing a system of bus transit in Ames that won an All-America City award in 1982. Her name appears on the recognition plaques in the Ames City Library, the 13th Street Fire Station, and the Cy-Ride Transit administration buildings.
Mary began working at the Brunnier Gallery and Museum while a member of the Ames City Council in 1979. Her work at the museum has led to a commitment to the Farm House Museum at Iowa State University, which she has researched extensively. Her research is the basis of a book published by ISU Press in 1996 on the Farm House and the people who lived there and their contributions to Iowa State.
She has continued to volunteer her time and energies to help make Ames a better place for everyone to live. After serving on the Ames City Council in 1987, Mary accepted a three-year term on the Ames Parks and Recreation Commission and was reappointed to a second three year term. She served two years as president of the Commission.
Currently in 1994, Mary is volunteering her time and expertise to the Ames Public Art Policy Commission and co-chairs the Ames City Hall Public Art project, is on the Utility Campus Art Committee, and chairs the Ames Parks Public Art Committee. Mary is also volunteering her time as board member and president of the Center for Creative Justice of Ames.