Mary Clare Lokken, 70, of Ames, Iowa died Tuesday, August 6, 2019 at Green Hills Hospice due to esophageal cancer with complications.


Born July 28, 1949 in La Crosse, WI, to Marian (Knutson) Lokken and Clayton Lokken, Mary moved to Ames, IA as a child with her parents and sister, June in 1959. Mary met her two best friends (Kathy Clark and Susan Fjare Morris) when they were selected for the gifted class. Always an avid learner, Mary explored theater in high school, dabbled in art in college, and once had a library so large that when she donated half the books, she needed forty boxes to hold them all. Graduating from Ames High School in 1967 and from Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, in 1971 with a degree in journalism, she continued her studies to earn a teaching credential in journalism, English and speech.


Mary used her education to teach high school in Portage, Wisconsin, from 1972 to 1976 where she also oversaw the Pom-Pom girls and was a favorite of the wrestling team. One of her proudest accomplishments was getting the entire wrestling team of Portage to read Jaws. How did she manage that? When presenting the book to one team member in her class, he asked what it was about. Mary responded, “well what do you think, look at the cover” (Jaws has a naked woman on the cover).


When the student came back angry and saying it wasn’t naughty at all, she pointed out that he should be proud of himself as he had now read a full book (something he hadn’t done previously). The two of them continued the prank until every member of the wrestling team had read the book. If Mary was anything, she was exceptional at inspiring others to learn and expand their horizons.


Returning to Ames in 1976, Mary’s educational background, along with her mom’s cosmetology expertise and leadership, and her dad’s unyielding support for his wife resulted in the creation of Professional Cosmetology Institute (PCI, now PCI Academy), in 1978. Mary led the school and the family salons, Finesse Beauty Salons (now Finesse Spa Salons) through her mother’s death in 1992.


Meeting salon consulting pioneer Randy Kunkel, of KRS Consulting Group (now Summit Salon Business Center) in 1999, Mary brought innovation and a new way of developing people to Finesse and PCI. She and Angela Torgeson (business partner and long-time friend) grew PCI from 20 students of cosmetology in 1999 to more than 100 students in cosmetology, nail technology, esthetics, and massage therapy in three locations (Ames, IA; Plymouth, MN; Iowa City, IA). Mary and Randy took the systems they developed for growing students and staff to independently owned beauty schools across the country, helping nearly 40 schools get started nationwide.


During her long career in the beauty industry, Mary consulted for salons, schools, and beauty product supply distributors. Mary has been a minority shareholder in multiple schools around the country, served as president and secretary of the Iowa Cosmetology Schools Association, and mentored thousands of owners, teachers, students, and future leaders to be their best. Mary loved nothing better than teaching others.


When she wasn’t changing lives across the country in the beauty industry, Mary devoted herself to her passions: family, Altrusa International of Ames, Inc, St. Andrews Lutheran Church, and the community of Ames. Family came first and Mary loved her daughter MaryJune, raising her on her own. She raised MaryJune to have the same integrity, consideration of others and dedication to work and family. She mentored her niece Angela and nephew Michael and treated them as if they were her own.


Altrusa came next on her list. Mary held almost every leadership position in the club, and worked on the International Centennial and Leadership committees. Before her diagnosis she was slated to serve as Governor for District Seven.


At St. Andrews, Mary served on the church council multiple times. She started a puppetry group that won regional competitions, and worked on the call committee when a change of pastor was needed. In the community, Mary served on the AIDs coalition in the early 1990’s, and contributed articles to Facets magazine. She served on a “Women Leaders” panel for Iowa State University, as an Eastern Star Rainbow Girls advisor, and as a member of the Ames Patriotic Council on Altrusa’s behalf. She was a graduate of Leadership Ames, Class I, and Leadership Iowa.


Mary was best known for her love of nativities, at one point having over 400 unique sets from all over the world before donating a large number to a special charity sale at her church. She was especially proud to display all 400+ at Altrusa’s annual Holiday Home Tour in 2015.


Selfless service and helping others achieve their dreams is what defined Mary Lokken. She believed in people when they didn’t believe in themselves and persevered through financial and marital strife to become a hero for us all. Everyone Mary met was touched by kindness, given strength, and knew she was a believer in women.


Mary is survived by her daughter, MaryJune (Jackson) and Michael Cain, Jr. of Ames, IA, sister June Lokken-Hopkins of Story City, IA, nephew Michael Lokken-Hopkins of Kansas City, MO, niece Angela Lokken-Hopkins and Chris Sippel of Greenfield, WI, favorite cousin Bea (Lokken) and Dave Erickson of Ellison Bay, WI, and her beloved dog Dolly of Ames, IA.


Mary was preceded in death by her parents, Marian (Knutson) Lokken in May 1992 and Clayton Lokken in January 2014.


Memorial services will be held on April 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm at St. Andrews Lutheran Church, Ames, IA. Interment will be private.


Memorials may be made to the Bliss Cancer Center and the Israel Family Hospice House in Mary’s memory or to St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Ames, IA for the “Mary Lokken Youth Fund”.