Longtime Penn State Hazleton supporter passes away

Mary M. Lofstrom passed away July 2, 2016, and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery on March 29. She and her husband, Bertil E. “Bert” Lofstrom (class of 1954) were longtime supporters of Penn State Hazleton and Penn State University. They were married for 50 years before her death.

Mary was born in Cobalt, Ontario, Canada. After earning a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University and a master’s in nursing administration from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., she began a 26-year career in the Air Force that culminated in the rank of colonel. She spent 14 years as a nursing administrator and military consultant to the surgeon general and 11 years as a flight nurse, including 10 years on overseas duty. She was honored with the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Organizational Excellence Aware, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Short and Long Tour Ribbons and several Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbons, among others. She was a member of the Society for Retired Air Force Nurses and was selected as Volunteer of the Year in Indian River County in Florida for her work in recruiting nurses and administrators to spread the availability of flu vaccine.

Bert, a native of Drums, attended Penn State Hazleton before completing his degree at University Park. He earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce and participated in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps while attending college. He served in the Air Force from 1954 to 1976, retiring as a colonel. While part of the Air Force, he earned a master’s degree from Michigan State University in 1964.

After retiring from the Air Force, the Lofstroms settled in Alexandria, Virginia, and Bert worked as a financial planner in Washington, D.C. He was also a founding partner of LaborFinders, a labor sourcing service. They retired to Vero Beach, Florida, in 1989.

The Lofstroms were interested in art and amassed an extensive collection of original and fine artwork over the course of their married life, including pieces by Salvador Dali and Rembrandt, and donated pieces to both the University and the campus. Some of their donations are housed at the Palmer Museum of Art at University Park, while others are located in various areas around Penn State Hazleton’s campus.

The couple was honored at an exhibit at the Palmer Museum displaying the works they donated to the University. The collection of prints and paintings, spanning three centuries ranging from 17th-century works by Rembrandt and Ostade to more contemporary Dali prints, was accompanied by a lecture by museum curator Patrick McGrady. It was followed by a special reception that recognized them for their many generous donations to Penn State over the years and was attended by numerous friends and guests, including museum benefactors Barbara Palmer and Marian U. Barash Coppersmith and other alumni, friends and donors to both Penn State Hazleton and the Palmer Museum. 

In addition to their donations of art, the Lofstroms made other significant gifts to Penn State Hazleton, including endowing a scholarship that was established in their name. They were named members of the Mount Nittany Society, the Atherton Society and the Penn State Hazleton Highacres Society.