Mary Ellen Blackburn, 91, of John Day, died Tuesday April 30, at Valley View Assisted Living in John Day.
Mary was born on March 18, 1922, in Juntura, the daughter of John Patrick and Catherine (Grealish) Joyce. She was educated in Juntura and was the only graduate in her class of 1940. After high school, she attended Marylhurst College where she received a teaching degree. She taught elementary school at Drewsey, a one-room school house on a cattle ranch in McDermitt, Nev., Vale, Portland, Bellevue, Wash. and various schools in the Lake Washington School district. She taught from 1943 until she retired in 1987.
On August 11, 1943, in San Diego, Calif., she was married to June Homer “Jay” Blackburn. She was an active member of the Catholic Church wherever she lived. She was a volunteer with St. Vincent DePaul, St. Agnes Guild and many other church organizations. In the 1960s, she went back to college and earned a master’s degree from Seattle University. She was an avid reader, especially of historical fiction. She enjoyed traveling to Europe and Ireland and was very proud of her Irish heritage. She moved to John Day in the winter of 2007 and was very active at Valley View Assisted Living, and in her late 80s she took up a new hobby of painting in watercolors.
She is survived by her three daughters, Marylin Berschauer (James) of Ephrata, Wash., Kathleen Spinks (Bill Ray) of Austin Junction, and Barbara Kearns (Dennis) of Moses Lake, Wash.; two sisters, Kathleen Wilber of Drewsey and Barbara Caldwell of La Grande; 10 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband and one brother, Raymond Joyce.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Saturday, May 4, at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in John Day. Committal services were held at Sunset Cemetery in Ontario on Monday, May 6.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in her memory to the Blue Mountain Hospice in c/o Driskills Memorial Chapel, 241 S. Canyon Blvd., John Day, OR. 97845.