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Mary Lou Hannafan - 89

8/24/1930 - 8/3/2020

Clinton, IA

Mary Lou Hannafan, of Clinton, Iowa, died peacefully in her home on Monday, August 3, 2020, surrounded by her family. Born August 24, 1930, on a farm near Wesley, Iowa, Mary Lou attended Clear Lake High School, Clear Lake, Iowa, and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Iowa State Teachers College (forerunner of the University of Northern Iowa) in 1952. 


Per her request, there will be no funeral. Cremation rites have been accorded per Pape Funeral Home, as Mary Lou wished to spend eternity among some of her favorite places in the world. Due to COVID-19, the family will hold a celebration of life tentatively in August 2021 to coincide with what would have been her 91st birthday.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Clinton Humane Society, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and MercyOne Clinton Hospice. To send a memory of Mary Lou or send a condolence to her family, please visit


Mary Lou taught in Storm Lake and Garner, Iowa, and met Allen Jean (A.J.) Hannafan when she was teaching in Gillette Grove, Iowa, and he was teaching and coaching in neighboring Ruthven, Iowa. They married August 6, 1955, in Clear Lake, Iowa. The couple later moved to Clinton, Iowa, where they raised their three children, Terrence (Terry), Mary Beth and John.


Over the course of Mary Lou’s 42-year teaching career, she primarily taught English but also drama, language arts, and vocal at the elementary and high school level, mainly in eastern Iowa. She spent her last three decades of teaching in Clinton, Iowa, at Horace Mann Elementary and Gateway Junior High before retiring from Clinton High School in 1994.


She always strove to make English literature relevant to her students, and in 1985, she—along with a fellow instructor—were awarded a grant from The Foundation of Educational Excellence to attend the Wordsworth Winter School in Windermere, England. She was quoted in the Clinton Herald as saying, “This experience will help us make Wordsworth come alive for our English literature students. Too often students think that if a poet has been dead for over 100 years, he cannot possibly have anything to say that would interest them.”


Mary Lou’s love of travel and culture also extended to her post-retirement life where she enjoyed visiting her children here and abroad, and traveled to many countries including multiple trips to Spain and Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Germany and Brazil. Among her favorites were Galicia, Spain; County Kerry, Ireland; and the mountains of Montana.


Additionally, Mary Lou filled her retirement days volunteering at Mercy Medical Center North Campus in Clinton, along with reading, watching classic movies and attending stage plays. She loved all animals, particularly German Shepherds, and owned minimally ten in her life, in addition to one cat, Clarissa. 


She is survived by her children Terrence (Elizabeth), Itanhaém, Brazil and Clinton, Iowa; Mary Beth, Denver, Colorado; John (Felicia) Chicago, Illinois, and two grandchildren: Catherine and Connor McCarty, both of Las Vegas, Nevada.


Mary Lou is preceded in death by her parents Ella (Uhlenhake) and Gustav Brandt, siblings Helen, Verna Mae, Catherine, John, Gus, and Louis, and husband, A.J.

Memorial Service:

Due to COVID-19, the family will hold a celebration of life tentatively in August 2021 to coincide with what would have been her 91st birthday.

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