October 11, 2012 at 9:33 a.m.

Evelyn Agnes McCracken

Evelyn Agnes McCracken
Evelyn Agnes McCracken

Evelyn Agnes McCracken died October 1, 2012, in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin at the age of 98. Longtime teacher, poet, artist, and advocate, Evelyn lived most of her adult life in Thompson, Iowa. Services will be held at United Methodist Church in Thompson at 1 p.m. on Friday, October 26.

Evelyn will be deeply missed by countless friends and family, all of whom cherished her constant smile, sense of humor, and willingness to listen and lend a hand. She always loved a good story – whether she or someone else told it. Evelyn was born on November 24, 1913, to Almon Henry Higley and Martha Victoria Soderlund Higley in Indian Creek Township, Story County, Iowa. Her family moved to Monroe County when she was six where she went to country school; then attended high school at Moravia (Class of 1930). She graduated with a teaching degree from North Iowa Teacher’s College in Cedar Falls and taught in a rural school north of Clear Lake for three years. Evelyn married Boyd Rankin Harding on May 28th, 1939. Evelyn and Boyd moved to Washington State where Boyd worked as a construction engineer on hydroelectric dam projects. They adopted their three children: John, who died in infancy, Douglas, and Martha. In 1956 they moved back to Thompson Iowa to be near Evelyn’s parents. They farmed with Almon and Victoria until Boyd’s death only two years later.

Evelyn moved her children into town and taught at Thompson Elementary School until her two-year teaching certificate expired. In 1961, she moved with her children to Waverly, Iowa, where she taught and tutored for a year at Lutheran Children’s Home, a treatment program for emotionally disturbed children. She moved back to Thompson where she worked as a substitute teacher for many years, as well as going to night school in Mankato and working as a cook at the White House Café in Thompson . She married Harold McCracken in 1968 and they farmed northeast of town. She and Harold raised shorthorn cattle, Morgan horses, pigs, and a large menagerie of cats and kittens, which she adored throughout her life. Evelyn and Harold eventually moved to town where they owned and operated many businesses, including a hardware store, a café, and apartments. She loved the café the most, where she was cook, baker, server, and cashier. Her huge cinnamon rolls were loved by everyone. In 1968, Evelyn and Harold made the first of many international trips to the Dominican Republic, to Canada, England and Australia, and to Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, they met the Solano family whose children – Cecelia, Vera, and Louis - eventually moved to Thompson to live with the McCrackens. Harold died in 1989, during one of their winter trips to Florida. Evelyn lived for the next 10 years in Thompson, sharing her beautiful house, garden and flowers with her many Thompson friends. In August, 2000, she sold her house and moved to Lake Mills, where she was assisted by the good people at Mills Harbour. After a major illness in 2005, she moved to Lake Mills Care Center.

On Palm Sunday, 2007, she moved to Taylors Falls, MN, to be near her family. She shared Mary and Mike Matz’ home-based care facility with four other residents. Evelyn is survived by her daughters Martha (Gary Noren) Harding, and Vera (Larry Waddell) Solano, grandchildren Sarah (Jon) Norton, David Webster, Brandon and Lucas (Jen) Flugum; former son-in-law Terry Webster; and five great-grandchildren: Taylor, Thomas, and Ian Norton; McKenzie and Cruz Flugum. She is also survived by her California family: her sister, Almona Day, niece Carolyn Krigbaum and nephew Bob (Janice) Day , and grand nieces and nephews Jennifer, Michelle (Klif), Gretchen, Steve, Sean and Kaitlin and one truly great-grand nephew Leo . Also survived by stepdaughter Florence Frericks, stepsons John, Phillip, and Robert McCracken; and by eight step-grandchildren and their 19 children. She was preceded in death by her brother, Walton Dale Higley, her parents, Almon and Victoria Higley; husbands Boyd R. Harding and Harold A. McCracken; sons John G. and Douglas A. Harding, and her niece Joanne Day. Memorials may be given in her name to the Thompson Library (142 Jackson St. N., Thompson, IA 50478) in honor of all the people she taught to read, or to the Northern Waters Literacy Council (400 Polk County Plaza, Balsam Lake, WI 54810) where Gary and Marty will carry on Evelyn’s legacy of tutoring and mentoring.


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