Mary Frances Tous, born February 11, 1929, was the only child of Charles F. and Venda Putlitz Tous. Mary’s paternal grandparents, John J. and Marie B. Kozak Tous, emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1885, and settled in Fillmore County, Nebraska, near Exeter.
Mary’s maternal grandfather Helmuth F. Putlitz, emigrated from Prussia in 1874. He settled in Madison Township in Fillmore County, where he married Martha Heiderstadt.
Mr. Tous was a blacksmith and a farmer. He actively participated in the affairs of Fillmore County. Helmuth F. Putlitz was also a farmer and was interested in politics. He was a member of the Populist Party and supported William Jennings Bryan for the presidency. Mr. Putlitz served two terms as Clerk of the Fillmore County Court.
Mary’s father, Charles F. Tous, worked in the bank in Exeter after his graduation from Exeter High School. He returned to Fillmore County after his discharge from the army at the end of World War I. Shortly after his return, he worked at Farmers State Bank in Fairmont. He later managed Farmers State Bank. His career in banking spanned more than fifty years.
Mary attended the Fairmont public school. She graduated in 1946 as valedictorian of her high school class. She enrolled in the University of Nebraska School of Music and was a member of the marching band for four years. She was one of only six women in that band. It was then an ROTC band and women were not allowed to be in the ROTC so they could not march with the men on the football field during pre-game or half-time shows.
After one year in the School of Music, Mary changed her major to business and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1950 with a major in Accounting. She was awarded a Regents Scholarship her senior year, and was a member of Phi Chi Theta, a business honorary fraternity.
Mary worked as a secretary at First Trust Company in Lincoln, then returned to the University in 1953 and earned a Master of Finance Degree in 1955. She then worked in the finance department at Bankers Life Insurance Company in Lincoln, later at First Mid-America, an investment firm, and at the National Bank of Commerce where she supervised the stock transfer department. In 1978, she became Investor Relations Manager at the Lincoln Telephone Company, a position she held until her retirement in 1994. She then made her home in Fairmont.
She traveled extensively throughout the world. Her very special trip was a photo safari to Kenya, Africa, in 1989. Mary was active in Professional Secretaries International, PEO, American Legion Auxiliary, the UNL Alumni Association, the UNL Alumni Band, and was a life member of the State Historical Society. She supported many organizations and activities in Fillmore County.
Mary loved music and supported the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, the Lincoln Municipal Band, and she played in the Lincoln Community Concert Band when it was founded.
In 1996, Mary was diagnosed with Parkinson’s’ disease. Never having married, Mary decided to find a way to use her estate to benefit her home town and county as well as Nebraska.
She created the Mary F. Tous Charitable Foundation in 1997, stating that grants should be made in the areas of health care, education, music, arts and humanities, and culture.
Her philanthropic philosophy: “I would like to help make communities in Nebraska better places to live for all Nebraska citizens.”
Mary’s family story is emulated by the many Nebraska families. They came to America seeking a better life and through hard work in Fillmore County were successful. Now Mary is supporting others through annual scholarships to graduating seniors in Fillmore County high schools, students in the Cornhusker Marching Band and students in the College of Business Administration desiring to study abroad.