Mae Urbanek, Wyoming writer, author and poet, died at the Niobrara Memorial Nursing Home at Lusk where she had been a resident since August 1988. Funeral services will be held at the Bader Funeral Home in Lusk, at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 1.
One of her books, "Wyoming Place Names," on which she had completed revision shortly before going to the nursing home in 1988, is in it's third printing and available at Wyoming Book outlets. It was listed among Wyoming's most popular books by the Wyoming State Historical Society in 1990. Her first booklet of poetry, "Niobrara Breezes" was printed by the Lusk Herald in 1946. Two other booklets were included in a hard back as "Songs of the Sage," which became very popular. As long as they were available, the historical prose books of "Wyoming Wonderland" and "Ghost Trails of Wyoming" were also popular. The bibliography, "Know Wyoming", has been sought by public and university libraries, and the biography, "Chief Washakie," was evidence of her great interest in Indian history and culture. Other works included The Uncovered Wagon, The Second Man, Almost Up Devils Tower
, and the biographies, Memoirs of Andrew McMaster
and Pioneer School Marm.
Some of her books are still available at Stagecoach Museum, Lusk.
In addition to these works, she wrote feature articles for farm and ranch periodicals and various newspapers. She was president of Wyoming Press Women 1963-65 and earned many awards in prose and poetry from that organization and attended, with the Lusk Herald Staff, many functions of the Wyoming Press Association. She was a member of Western Writers of America and contributed to the anthology volume, "The Women Who Made the West." Her article told the story of Esther Morris and her tea party at South Pass. She was a member of Wyoming Writers and served on the board of the National Federation of Press Women.
When Gov. Clifford Hansen created his Commission on the Status of Women in 1965, Mrs. Urbanek was named to that body, and when in 1969 the Legislature established the Commission for Women, she carried over as an advisory member. She was later to serve on a State Land Use Planning Committee, and in 1978 was appointed to Wyoming Library, Archives, Museum and Historical Board.
In her home county she served 46 years as a 4-H Club leader in gardening and geology besides participating in Extension Service Clubs, garden clubs, Niobrara Cowbelles, and the Lusk Woman's Club. She was a past president of the Wyoming Federation of Garden Clubs. She and her late husband, Jerry Urbanek, traveled Wyoming and Black Hills trails and highways in research and pleasure, and gathering rocks to decorate outside gardens at their home. Inside, were indexed rocks from every state in the nation. In 1954, the windbreak on their small farm six miles northeast of Lusk won first place in the Demming dry-land shelter belt state contest. Many a hunter was to learn that Urbanek land was off limits.
Mrs. Urbanek played and important part during the first 20 years of the pageant, "The Legend of Rawhide," (1946-65) helping develop the Indian camp prologue scenes and participating as an Indian woman.
Aletha Mae Urbanek was born September 10, 1903, the daughter of Boyd and Sara Hotze Robb at Edgewater, Colo. Her father was a farmer and school teacher. Three years later the family moved to Haynes, N.D., to homestead. Mae attended rural schools, and high school through a first year of college was completed at Dakota Wesleyan University Academy at Mitchell, S.D. She graduated with a degree in journalism at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., in 1928. It was there that she met and married Jerry Urbanek, a native of Czechoslovakia, December 14, 1928. During some of this time she had been a reporter for the old Chicago Journal.
The couple farmed with her folks two years, then spent a year in Rapid City running a store. While on a trip to Denver in 1931, they saw a "For Sale" sign on the farm which they later purchased. Her husband died in April 1992. Several distant relatives remain.
Memorials to the Niobrara 4-H Council in care of the Extension Office would be appreciated.
Bader Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Note: According to family sources, Elthea Mae Urbanek's maiden name is Bobb, not Robb. She was the daughter of Boyd Byron BOBB and his wife Sarah Matilda Susan HOTZE. More photos and information on the Bobb family may be found on the Bobb Family Webpage