Mary Kay Hansen Peer was born in 1914 on a farm in Allerton, IL, and was a life-long resident of Champaign County. The family moved to Champaign when Mary Kay was a child so she could receive a better education. Ultimately, she graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and then worked in the departments of Political Science, English and in the office of the Dean of Women Students. She worked for the University of Illinois for 41 years.
Mary Kay and her husband, Hobart, were active community members. She urged others – young and old alike – to be engaged in the community. And she led by example. Mary Kay served on many boards including The Reading Group (founded by her friend, Marilyn Kay), the CU Symphony Guild and the Board of Trustees of our Community Foundation. During her term serving on our Board, Mary Kay established the Mary K. Peer Administrative Fund and challenged the other Trustees to also contribute to the fund. This endowment has grown considerably and is available should our Foundation need it to support a portion of our annual administrative budget expenses.
When she died in 2002, it was important for Mary Kay to leave her money where her heart was—with UIUC and our community. She left her estate, including the now Century Farm in Allerton, to our Community Foundation for the benefit of four units at UIUC—the English Department, Department of Applied Health Sciences, the Library and WILL.