Mary Eileen McEown

Mary Eileen McEown, 98, who lived most of her life in Minot, died Saturday, March 30, 2013, at a Minot nursing home.

She was born July 23, 1914, at Surrey, a daughter of Joseph (Bert) McEown and Anna Grindberg McEown. The family subsequently moved to Minot, where she was raised. She graduated from Minot High School and earned a two-year teaching certificate at Minot State Teachers College. She spent another year at an area business college. She later earned a bachelor of science degree in physical education at Kellogg’s School of Physical Education at Battle Creek College in Battle Creek, Mich.

She spent the next several years as a physical education teacher in Cherokee, Iowa. When World War II came along, she joined the American Red Cross and was sent to Italy. She was there for two years, working as a program director for rest centers established for servicemen coming off the front lines and needing a rest. She was located at Naples, the Isle of Capri, and San Severo.

She returned to the United States in 1945. She applied to the Mayo Clinic Physical Therapy Program in Rochester, Minn., but the class was full. However, she was accepted in 1948. During the interim, she worked as a Girl Scout executive in Burlington, Iowa, and Hannibal, Mo. After her graduation from the program at Mayo, she worked for three years at Mayo’s outpatient clinic.

In 1952, Eileen-as she was best known-returned to Minot. She was first employed at the John Moses Regional Air Force Hospital. In 1955 she went to work in physical therapy at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She remained there for 21 years until retiring. Finding that retirement didn’t agree with her, she took on a “temporary” job at the Flower Box in Minot. She retired 24 years later at age 92.

She was a lifelong member of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Minot, and was a lector and minister of the Eucharist for more than 20 years.

She was a founding member of the North Dakota Physical Therapy Association. Two years ago, the NDPTA recognized her for her outstanding contributions to the profession of physical therapy.

She maintained a number of hobbies. Prominent among them was photography. She had been a member of the Minot Camera Club since 1954, and had held every office, including that of president, a post in which she served four terms. In 2012 the club inaugurated the Eileen McEown Outstanding Member of the Year Award and named her its first recipient.

She also was a member of the Souris Valley Birding Society, the Greater Minot Zoological Society, serving on its board for six years, and the American Physical Therapy Association.

The McEown home in Eastwood Park continued as Eileen’s home for many years. She gave it up only after health issues forced her to move into a smaller facility and eventually to a Minot nursing home. Yet, her mental acumen held even as she lay dying.

Survivors: nieces and nephews, Michael T. (Linda) McEown, Minot, William J. McEown, Homosassa, Fla., Patricia Boldwyn, Elgin, Ill., and Mary K. (John) Kibler, Roswell, Ga.; cousins, Ethylene Flanders, Augusta, Maine, Brian and Warren Spaulding, also of Maine, Dorothy Evelyn Haner, of Denver, and Jack Fecker, Seattle.

She was preceded in death by her parents; a brother and sister-in-law, Lance and Lila Mary McEown.

Funeral: Friday, April 5, 2013, 10:30 a.m., at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, Minot.

Burial: Rosehill Memorial Park, Minot.

Visitation: Thursday, April 4, from 1 to 7 p.m., at Thompson-Larson Funeral Home, Minot.

Memorials: In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Bishop Ryan Catholic Schools, St. Leo’s Church Building Fund or the Roosevelt Park Zoo, all Minot.