In Memory of

Mary Ellen (Watkins) Pearson Wright

July 16, 1937 - June 23, 2020


Mary Ellen (Watkins, Pearson) Wright, 82, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, formerly of Lee’s Summit,

Missouri, passed away Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at Cottage Grove Place in Cedar Rapids. Funeral

services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 27, 2020, at Murdoch Funeral Home & Cremation Service in

Marion, Iowa, conducted by Pastor Mike Morgan. Visitation will follow the service at the funeral home

until 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Funeral services will also be held in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Tuesday,

June 30, 2020, with visitation at 10 a.m. at Langsford Funeral Home, and funeral services at 11 a.m.

conducted by Pastor Craig Otto.


She was born in Tabor, Iowa, July 16, 1937, as the elder daughter of the late Charles Gilbert and Helen

(Clipson) Watkins. Although born in Hamburg, Iowa, Mary Ellen’s parents and sister, Ilene moved to a

farm outside of Tabor, where her maternal grandparents lived. She attended the Shady Grove one-room

country school until third grade, when they moved to a farm northwest of Griswold. She graduated

from Griswold High School in 1955, and from Northwest Missouri State University in 1959 with a

degree in Elementary Education.


On July 17, 1960, Mary Ellen married John Pearson, who preceded her in death on February 8, 1997.

Mary Ellen and John spent two years in Virginia Beach, Virginia while he served in the U.S. Navy,

before settling in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. They were married for 36 years.


Mary Ellen was a school teacher for 35 years, following in the footsteps of her mother and aunts. She

taught various grades in elementary schools in Anita and Council Bluffs, Iowa, and in the Lee’s

Summit School District Elementary for a year, before specializing in remedial reading. She received

her Master’s degree in Reading from Central Missouri State University in 1974, and starting the

Reading Program at Pleasant Lea Elementary in 1975 where she taught for 29 years before retiring in

  1. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma teacher organization, the International Reading

Association, Rotary Club, and a P.E.O. sister along with serving her church in various roles.


In 2004, Mary Ellen attended her 50th high school class reunion. She rekindled an old flame, Norman

Wright of Marion, Iowa. They were married later that year. Mary Ellen had a vivacious personality and

a laugh second to none. She was a perfect fit for her new blended family. She enjoyed going to the

theater, traveling, the symphony and various club activities. Story telling was one of Mary Ellen’s

passions and she relished tales of growing up on the farm and living in small town Iowa. She loved

chocolate and never turned down a dessert. Mary Ellen had a gracious heart and her patience could be

unwavering, especially with young children.


She loved being a grandmother and was active in her grandchildren’s lives, traveling cross country to

school, sports, graduation and other life events. She was to become a great-grandmother for the first

time later this fall.


Mary Ellen is survived by her husband, Norman Wright; her sister, Ilene (Skip) Applegate; children,

Catherine (Mike) Hut, Caren (Lynn) Miller and Carla (Woods) Prael; eight grandchildren; Norman’s

children Deb (Todd) Hall, Randy (Julie) Wright and Donna (Jeff) Matthews, and their families.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, John Pearson; and sisters-in-law, Barbara

(Clifford) Fries and Rosemary (Verne) Davidson.


Burial will take place at Floral Hills East Memorial Gardens in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

Please share a memory of Mary Ellen on the either of the websites under obituaries: and


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My memory of Grandma will always be driving in the VW with the top down either to or from Branson. I can still remember her laugh as we would go find and fashion various “old” clothing items or snap-on earrings from the basement in Lee Summit. I was lucky enough to share a meal with Grandma and Norman not too long ago in Marion, we shared pictures and stories. All of my love, Jacob.

Grandma – Thank you for always supporting me and helping me learn how to read. I will always remember the many road trips to see all the little house on the prairie sites and teaching me about life along the way. We will miss you greatly and you will always be remembered. So much love.

Grandma, you were one of the most giving and patient people I have ever known. I always thought you and I shared a similar tendency to be content in our own world when sitting in a crowd. You instilled in me a love of reading from an early age and introduced me the Little House on the Prairie series, even making it the center of a road trip destination with Hannah. I always loved visiting the farm. Thanks for sharing your life, I love you very much.

Mary Ellen was one in a million. A wonderful woman with a caring heart and a great sense of humor. I loved working with Mary Ellen. My heart and prayets are with Mary Ellen’s family.

My sympathy to Mary Ellen’s family. I taught remedial reading with Mary Ellen in Lee’s Summit. We went to several IRA conventions together. I always admired her knowledge, sought her advice & enjoyed her company. We eventually bought her home from her when she decided to locate in Iowa permanently.

I taught with Mary Ellen at PLE in Lee’s Summit, MO. She was a child advocate, always going the extra mile for her reading students. I will always remember her with a smile, hurrying down the hallways at PLE, with a pencil behind her ear. She had such a good sense of humor and was so bright. A pleasant soul. Love and sympathy sent to her family!

Grandma, I have so many fond memories of my time with you. Whether it was picking blackberries or learning to drive at the farm in Lee’s Summit or visiting you in Marion while we were in town to see Julie’s family you were always excited to see me and I you; you were a great grandma. I will miss you very much and will always think of you.

I will always remember our shared connection over teaching. I loved hearing the many stories she shared of her time as a teacher. I’m so glad we got to spend time with her whenever we were back in Marion.

Mary Ellen and I shared the love of reading. She was always ready to share and participate in literacy activities (of which there were many) in Lee’s Summit. We traveled together to many banquets, conferences, and workshops and always had a wonderful time. Prayers of peace and comfort are sent to her family.

Dear Caren and Family,
I’m so sorry to hear about tour mom. I have fond memories of her all throughout grade school and high school being one of our 4H leaders and friend. Later, while teaching, I would see her at school district events and admired all the work she did for the reading program. Treasure your memories with her. She was a wonderful lady.

Joyce and I became next door neighbors at the farm in Lone Jack in 1977. Within days our friendship began as we visited across the line fence between our properties. John and Joyce had both worked at the Western Electric plant in Lee’s Summit and we found that we both had strong Lutheran roots. Our neighboring friendship extended into many hours of joint farm work – especially cutting & baling hay for our cattle. We already missed both John and Mary Ellen but have kept them close in our hearts. God’s Blessings to the family.

I would have loved to have come to the visitation and funeral but I’m not comfortable with crowds right now. I just have to tell you my favorite story about Mary Ellen. I taught first grade at Pleasant Lea Elementary and we had Mr. and Mrs. Clause coming around to visit the classrooms near Christmas. Mary Ellen happened to walk in and announce in front of all the kids, “Why I go to church with Mr. and Mrs. ****.” She kept talking about the couple And I kept giving her the eyeball until she finally realized what she was saying in front of the kids. We always laughed about that together. She was a dear friend and wonderful wonderful teacher! We have really missed her in Lees Summit.

I’m so sorry to hear of your Mother’s passing. I remember her as the “Picture Lady” at Pleasant Lea Elementary many years ago. She and my Mom worked together at PLE years later and enjoyed a great friendship. May you find comfort and peace in the memories of your Mom.

Caren & Lynn & family, We are so sorry to see this. Sending prayers and sympathy to all of you.

Catherine, Caren and Carla,

I am so sorry for your loss. I have fond memories of the time your mother was at St. Matthew. It was a joy to work on LWML projects with her. She was creative, thoughtful, efficient, and a woman of faith.

I surely would have been at the service in Lee’s Summit, had it not been for the virus.

May the Peace of the Lord be with all of you.



Tuesday, June 30, 2020
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Langsford Funeral Home
115 SW 3rd St
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063


Tuesday, June 30, 2020
11:00 AM
Langsford Funeral Home
115 SW 3rd St
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063