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
- 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:
www.murdochfuneralhome.com and www.langsfordfuneralhome.com.