Kindness through the telephone: Remembering Mary Ann Hallberg

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — KELOLAND News lost a dear friend last week. Mary Ann Hallberg died unexpectedly last Thursday with her family by her side.

You may remember her. She was a loyal viewer who soon established her own fan base after appearing on our shows over the years. The 91-year-old had so much happiness and love inside her, she couldn’t contain it all. So, she shared it with everyone whether she met them or not. One of her favorite ways was to just pick up the phone.

When was the last time you called someone just to tell them they did a good job? Mary Ann Hallberg did it every day.

“I do commend you for that and compliment you and wish you the best luck in the world,” Hallberg said into her trusty telephone in 2017.

Mary Ann would call local journalists, trash collectors, the mayor, and a lot of others just to give them some encouragement and a few big ideas. Mary Ann stood at just 4’10”, but don’t be fooled. The way she treated people made her a giant.

“I go one day at a time. The therapy of thinking of others and working with others, people let me talk. They listen. That’s a gift if people listen,” Hallberg said in 2017.

When KELOLAND News did a story about Yale’s Happiness 101 Class in 2018, we asked ourselves who is a local expert on happiness? It didn’t take too long to find an answer.

Brady: What’s making you happy today?
Mary Ann Hallberg: Oooo. How much time do we have.

In just a few seconds, Mary Ann could find what so many people spend a lifetime searching for.

“Happiness is… Well, having a red cardinal sing. And a good cup of coffee in the morning in your favorite cup; I love pretty cups. And, oh, family, faith and fellowship,” Mary Ann said.

It’s not that Mary Ann’s life was perfect. She lost people she loved, including her mom and husband in the same year, and then her son.

Brady: Do you have to work at being happy?
Mary Ann: Yes, you kind of do. Sure. It’d be easy at times to… know. Oh my yes. I think what helps me is thinking of other people, trying to, to do what you can to make them happy or help them.

Brady: I can think of friends in their late 20s and early 30s and they think they’re old and their life is over and their best years are behind them. What would you say to that?
Mary Ann: Get a grip.

It’s good advice, isn’t it?

According to her family, in the hours before she died, Mary Ann spent the morning calling friends and family. In today’s world, with so much hatred and fighting, Mary Ann Hallberg taught us the value of just picking up the phone to tell someone they’re doing a good job.

That’s why, I have to say this. Mary Ann, with how you lived and how you treated others, you did a good job, too.

“Oh, I’m such a fortunate person. I have had such a good life,” Mary Ann said in 2018. “You’ve got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative… Gratitude is everything.”

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