Remembering AFRE Outreach Specialist Mary Zehner

Join us in remembering Mary Zehner, retired AFRE instructor and marketing outreach specialist.

October 27, 2017

Mary Zehner

Mary Dalziel Zehner, retired AFRE instructor and marketing outreach specialist, passed away on September 25, 2017 at the age of 83.

A long-time resident of East Lansing and employee of the department, Mary received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a Master of Science degree from Michigan State University. For 33 years Mary championed the extension side of the land grant institution mission, authoring numerous publications, including Consumer Bulletins focused on food production and preparation.

Zehner wrote articles for mass media and conducted educational meetings regarding the latest developments in the agricultural field, and developed a wide following of her work. Her interests ranged from working with growers who wanted to sell produce at roadside stands, to helping communities start markets to sell locally grown produce. As an Extension educator, she also conducted focus groups and facilitated preference testing panels. In 1976, she received an Outstanding Extension Specialist Award.

Colleague and retired AFRE faculty member Stephen Harsh remarked on her adamant respect for consumer marketing, and giving those she worked for what they needed.

“I remember working with her in developing computer software that consumers could use to help them identify deficiencies in their daily diets, back when computers were a new technology,” says Harsh. “She was an innovative thinker, a hugely valuable member of our team, and a great colleague.”

Zehner was an active member and volunteer in a number of community organizations. For many years she served as a volunteer board member of her sorority, helping to oversee the local chapter house and its programs. She was also a member for many years of a local chapter of ZONTA, an international organization of business and professional women.

“Mary was a lovely woman who will be missed by everyone who knew her,” married emeritus faculty members Jake and Maxine Ferris say of Zehner. “The work she did here helped many members in the agricultural and MSU community.”

A memorial service will be held at The Peoples Church, 200 W Grand River Ave in East Lansing on Saturday October 28, 2017 at 1 p.m..

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