Mary Penner is a freelance writer, editor, and professional genealogist. A former high school and college English teacher, she now indulges her passion for genealogy through professional research and genealogical writing and editing. Her articles have appeared in numerous genealogy publications including Ancestry, Family Tree Magazine, Family Chronicle, Internet Genealogy, New Mexico Genealogist, APG Quarterly, FGS Forum, and others. Mary specializes in writing ancestral narratives and biographies for clients. Mary has won five International Society of Family History Writers and Editors awards - two for her long-running genealogy column in the Albuquerque Tribune, and three for feature-length articles. She specializes in forensic genealogy research, working on legal land grant and probate cases. She is the managing editor for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, and also the editor for the New Mexico Genealogist, published by the New Mexico Genealogical Society. Just Do It, Crazy or Not is her first full-length book.
Her next book project will be a historical biography of a Santa Fe Trail trader, Henry O'Neill. Mary lives in New Mexico with her husband and daughter.
Irvin Hornkohl lived the life and told the stories in Just Do It, Crazy or Not. He had the wisdom to get Mary to write it all down for him. This book is his first published work.
Irvin lived with his wife on a Colorado ranch. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 92.
Irvin and Mary working together on the book. Mary and Irvin spent three years putting this book together. Mary recorded more than fifty hours of Irvin telling his stories. She then transcribed the stories, often pulling bits and pieces of the same story from different recordings. She gave the stories shape and cohesion, editing and adding details for clarity. Mary and Irvin met by chance on an airplane when they sat next to each other. They met on December 7, 2006, the 65th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.