Mary Mullen passed away on December 30, 2017 at Mayo Clinic Hospital - St. Marys Campus in Rochester.
Mary Margaret Mullen, age 84, was born February 17, 1933 to parents Leo T. and Bernice E. (Kinney) Mullen in Denison, Iowa. She was the fifth of six children, with older siblings Thomas, Kinney, Leo Patrick, and Anna Mae, and younger brother Michael (Mickey). She attended St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Denison before moving to Des Moines, Iowa and there she graduated from St. Augustin's Elementary School in 1947, and then Roosevelt High School in 1951. She graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956 from Northern Iowa Teachers College (University of Northern Iowa) in Cedar Falls. She then advanced her degree at the University of Iowa receiving her Master of Arts degree in 1970. She taught physical education and coached sports teams at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but her career is most notable when she began teaching and coaching at the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1967.
Mary was a sports enthusiast starting as a youth playing softball, field hockey, and tennis, but her passion was aquatics. This was shown early in her career as an aquatics specialist counselor at Camp Hantesa a Campfire summer camp in Boone, Iowa. She taught and coached numerous sports at UMD, but spent most of her time on the pool deck with a stopwatch or on Rock Lake in a canoe. She made many trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area with her students, friends, and relatives. She was honored in 1991 for her 25 year contribution to women's sports development at UMD. She retired in 1998 as an associate professor. She moved to Rochester, MN for her retirement where she continued her hobbies of travel, coin and stamp collecting, reading and playing bridge.
Throughout her years in Duluth she rented rooms in her homes to students. These friendships have lasted forever with a half dozen students gathering at Mary's home just 5 months ago. Mary's friend Maryann Swallum has lived and taught piano in her homes both in Duluth and Rochester. Her family and friends supported her as she struggled with advancing rheumatoid arthritis. But illness did not slow her, she just adapted with motorized scooters, wheelchairs, wheelchair vans, and access ramps to her home.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her siblings, and one nephew Jeff Mullen. She is survived by sister-in-law Rose Mullen, sister-in-law Shirley Mullen, and her nieces and nephews: Suzanne Olmstead (Gary, deceased), Ronald Mullen (Karin), Stephen Mullen (Julie), Christine Mullen, Deborah Anderson (Carl), Meredithe Mullen, Theresa Ver Wey (Jeff), Rose Mullen, Leo Mullen (Martha), Rita Mullen, Harold Mullen, Kevin Schmuki (Jean), Karen Lebel (Dan), Thomas Richardson (Paula), Patricia Schmuki, Maryanna Schmuki, Carleen Jones (Roger), Bernice Schulz (Terry), Margaret Warner (Devin), Michael Mullen (Candice), James Mullen (Jen), and friend Maryann Swallum.
We will forever remember Mary "Mugs" Mullen for her determination, spunk, wit, humor, and unfailing support for her relatives, students, friends, women's sports, and women's equal rights.
A celebration of life will be scheduled in the Spring with final interment of ashes at St. Rose of Lima cemetery in Denison, Iowa.
Memorials may be directed to the Mayo Clinic Hospice program or to the family since future memorials are being planned.
Funeral arrangements by Ranfranz and Vine, Rochester, MN. A funeral mass will be held on Monday, January 8th at Pax Christi Catholic Church Rochester, MN at 9:00 a.m. with visitation at 8:00 a.m.
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