Mary Ellen Strupp, 97, of Davenport, died on March 18, 2020, at Crest Health Center, Davenport, Iowa.
A memorial service will be held at a future time and place to be determined, when people are free to gather. Memorials may be directed to Asbury United Methodist Church Parish Nurse Program in Bettendorf, Iowa (www.asbury-bett.org); the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation in Austin, Texas (www.rls.org); and the Ridgecrest Foundation Nursing Scholarship Fund in Davenport, Iowa (ridgecrestvillage.org). McGinnis-Chambers Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Mary Ellen was born on September 26, 1922, in Celina, Ohio, the daughter of James and Myrtle Beougher Dutton. A premature baby, she was kept alive by her Aunt Callie Mondhank keeping her warm in the oven and feeding her with an eye dropper. As a girl, she helped at her family’s farm supply store and grain mill and enjoyed learning from her Uncle Cloden Waugh, who sparked her interest in life science and promoted her education. After graduating from Mendon High School in Mendon, Ohio, she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Findlay College in Findlay, Ohio.
In 1944, Mary Ellen ventured to Garden City, Kansas, as a war bride, to marry Bruce B. Burket, with whom she raised three daughters. She began teaching science at elementary schools in Cocoa, Florida, and then at Glenview Middle School in East Moline. While earning a master’s degree in education from Western Illinois University, she acquired an affection for rocks, sometimes giving them as gifts.
She met Earl L. Strupp through the Black Hawk Hiking Club, and in 1982 they were married at Asbury United Methodist Church. They relished life in the Quad Cities, and could often be seen energetically riding bicycles, gardening, and showing slides from their extensive trips, often to community groups. When traveling on country roads, Mary Ellen liked to step out of the car and take photos of barns.
At Asbury, Mary Ellen led discussion-based classes for youth and adults that explored current issues. Inspired by Sister Rita Mary Bradley of Davenport, she volunteered to visit women in jail. She was a member of P.E.O. and belonged to a group of friends who met to learn about contemporary art. For her book group, she produced detailed reports that she practiced in front of her family – once from a hospital bed.
In 2008, Mary Ellen and Earl moved to Ridgecrest Village in Davenport, where they bloomed in a community of friends and were well cared for. Mary Ellen joined Martha Circle, delivered the newsletter using her walker, gardened in the courtyard, kept numerous healthy houseplants and decorated her apartment door with scenes from nature. The last display she made included a picture of a frog with her handwritten caption: “PLEASE. A HEALTHY STREAM.”
She is survived by her brother, James Dutton; her children from her first marriage, Marsha Wells of Glenview, Illinois, Karen Byrne of Washington, DC, Mary Lou Burket of Minneapolis, Minnesota; sons-in-law Harry Wells, Peter Byrne, and Frank Howes; grandchildren, Bruce Wells, Hannah Petrie, Christopher Byrne, Margaret Sedgewick, and Abigail Byrne; and great-grandchildren, Ellen Wells, Finley Wells, Pender Petrie, Ada Lou Petrie, and Peter Sedgewick. She is also survived by four stepchildren: Hadee Wood of Muskogee, Oklahoma, Kristine Anthony of Camden, Arkansas, Steven Strupp of East Moline, and Betty Shellabarger of Milan.
Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her husband, Earl L. Strupp; sister, Ruth Ann Evans; and stepson, Earl L. Strupp III.