Ames orchestra director Mary Kay Polashek has died; how to watch her visitation, funeral

A long-time beloved Ames orchestra teacher has died.

Mary Kay Polashek, 63, died Monday. She was diagnosed last year with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Polashek died in her sleep at home, according to her obituary.

Polashek had been the high school's orchestra director and teacher for 35 years, but was a teacher for 40 years total.

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"A life-long educator, Mary Kay could not recall ever imagining an occupation other than teacher," her obituary says.

Her last concert with Ames High School was Jan. 31. To a standing ovation, Polashek led students in a Bach concerto, variations on musical chopsticks, some winter holiday tunes, a Russian ballet song and an arrangement of the cinematic themes from Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.

She intended to work the remainder of the school year, and possibly even beyond, but ultimately the disease caused her to lose her voice.

In addition to her career at Ames High, she played piano at church on Sundays, used to play violin and viola in the Central Iowa Symphony and was a founding member of the Ames Chamber Artists, singing soprano.

Ames school board president Sabrina Shields-Cook announced news of Polashek's death at Monday night's board meeting. She said she was one of Polashek's students and extended condolences to friends, family and students.

Polashek's visitation is Nov. 22 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Saint Cecilia Catholic Church, 2900 Hoover Ave. A vigil service will follow at 7 p.m.

The funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 23 at the church.

Services will be live streamed. A link is available on the tribute wall of her obituary on the Adams Funeral Home website.

Polashek will be buried Saturday in Gilbert, Minnesota. Visitation services will be held that morning at the Ziemer-Moeglein-Shatava Funeral Home.

Memorial donations can be made to The Mary Kay Polashek Student Scholarship Fund through Friends of Ames Strings or to the St. Cecilia Church renovation fund.

Phillip Sitter covers education for the Ames Tribune, including Iowa State University and preK-12 schools in Ames and elsewhere in Story County. Phillip can be reached via email at He is on Twitter @pslifeisabeauty.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Ames orchestra director Mary Kay Polashek funeral to be live streamed