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.
I just read this and have so many memories of Mary. Living in her home as a student and her teaching me how to sweat in a swimming pool. She instructed me in canoeing and how to teach lifesaving. Taking me to the cabin with Mary Ann and of course our boundary waters trip. She made an impact on my teaching and on my heart with her gentleness. Prayers to her family and of course to Mary Ann.
Aunt Mary was there for everything...every holiday, every wedding, every reunion. As a child, family gatherings usually included at least 12 children and 11 adults. And, that was before Grandma Mullen's sisters and their children and grandchildren came over! Only as an adult did I appreciate how much time Aunt Mary spent at the kitchen sink cleaning up after all of us...and trying to "entertain" us...and as we grew older this was usually with her colorful opinions about politicians! Then, of course, there are all of the fun memories of Aunt Mary in the Boundary Waters or on Lake Lida. A favorite life memory will always be our trip to the Boundary Waters. Mary was truly one of a kind. We will miss her so.
Mary, Muggs, took me and my great friends Rich, Bean, Heidi and many others on great weekend trips along the north shore and longer trips into the Boundary Waters. She always insisted on a great meal the first night bringing along steak and potatoes...quite a bit of weight across those portages. Most of all though she was always there for us. She provided a place to stay, hired us for projects when we were flat broke, guidance during tough times, and celebrated with us during great moments in our lives. As Heidi said, not only did she extend kindness beyond compare, we learned through her to give to others. In celebration of Muggs, we continue to pay it forward. Rita Garcia (Garsh)
I remember Aunt Mary taking us canoeing on the lake. Big lake, and she taught us what to do. She was comfortable on the water, and confident. I remember thinking I will Be that confident some day. She is part of our Lore, and will be well remembered.
Muggs Mullen....the woman who mentored so many and changed out lives.
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