Mary Ellen (Barkley) Boyden was born April 7, 1924, to Wilson Neely and Bernice Eugenia (Peterson) Barkley in Phoenix, Arizona. In December 1934, after the death of a brother and sister and the problems of the Great Depression, the family moved to Gretna, Nebraska. Mary Ellen attended grade school in rural Sarpy County and graduated in 1941 from Papillion High School, in Papillion, Nebraska. She attended one year at Peru State Teachers College in Peru, Nebraska and taught in one-room country schools in Sarpy County for three years. In 1945 she enrolled in the Cadet Nurse Corps and graduated in 1948 as a Registered Nurse from Clarkson Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.
Mary Ellen married Roy Myron Boyden, Jr. on October 24, 1948, in Gretna, Nebraska. In 1952 they moved to West Haven, Connecticut and in 1961 to St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to raising their four children she also cared for a total of 13 infants as a foster parent in pre-adoptive care. In 1965 she returned to her nursing career and worked at several hospitals with most of her nursing career (20 years) spent at Mounds Park Hospital in St. Paul. In 1978 Mary Ellen graduated from Metropolitan State University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services. At the time of her retirement from nursing, she was the head nurse of the medical surgery floor.
In addition to her teaching/nursing career, she was an active leader in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and enjoyed all types of needle arts ~ especially quilting. She was an active church member in each of her many residences. She enjoyed being a Sunday school teacher, circle leader, deaconess, and she also served on various boards and committees.
In her free time, Mary Ellen enjoyed gardening, traveling, sewing, and quilting. Mary Ellen also played the organ and was an accomplished pianist. Most importantly she always had time to spend with her family as they grew and spread to the four corners of the country.
After the death of her husband in September 1996, Mary Ellen moved in April of 1998 to Omaha, Nebraska to be near her two brothers and other relatives. In August of 2009, she moved to Woodbine, Iowa to be closer to her daughter; and she lived out her remaining years to the fullest. Mary Ellen created many beautiful quilts that have been handed down to family and friends which will live on forever – along with her memory!
Mary Ellen died Wednesday, October 17, 2018, at the Community Memorial Hospital in Missouri Valley, Iowa at the age of 94 years, six months, and 10 days.
Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Roy Boyden; two toddler siblings, William (Billy) and Helen Bethene; and sister-in-law, Arlisse Barkley. She is survived by her four children, Alan (Theresa) Boyden of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, David (Susan) Boyden of Carlsbad, California, Thomas (Kim) Boyden of Seattle, Washington, Beth (Paul) Fouts of Woodbine; Iowa; as well as ten grandchildren, Kevin, Tara, Nathan, Nicole, Jimmy, Brianne, Kyle, Matt, Carly and Ryan; 12 great-grandchildren, Emmett, Erin, Cameron, Allison, Madison, Courtney, Morgan, Sailor, Beckham, Connor, Blake and Dawson; two brothers, Keith (Dee) Barkley of Omaha, Nebraska and Charles (Sharon) Barkley of Cumberland, Iowa; and many other relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations to the Woodbine United Methodist Church, Woodbine Fire & Rescue or the charity of your choice.