Mary Elinor (McNair) Reed

July 15, 1926 ~ July 21, 2020 (age 94)


Mary Elinor Reed, age 94, passed away on Tuesday, July 21, at her home after a lengthy illness.

            Mary was born July 15, 1926, in Pawnee City, Nebraska to John Wesley and Isabelle (Hawkins) McNair. She grew up on the McNair family farm and attended Rosinweed, a one room schoolhouse, through 8th grade. After graduating from Pawnee City High School in 1943, she continued her education at the University of Nebraska, where she pledged the Delta Gamma sorority. She was a lifelong Cornhusker football fan. One of her favorite memories was attending the 1941 Rose Bowl game in Pasadena and watching Nebraska play Stanford.

            Mary left the university after two years and taught at an elementary school in Humboldt Nebraska. While in Humboldt, her landlady taught her to play bridge, a game she enjoyed until the last years of her life. Mary then moved to Storm Lake, Iowa where she taught school. She met a Buena Vista University professor, John Quincy Reed, while attending a party hosted by her school’s principal. She enjoyed relating the story of meeting her husband over a pool table. They were married on June 19, 1949. Mary had to resign from her job since married women were not allowed to teach in Storm Lake public schools at that time. She then taught in nearby Early, Iowa while continuing her education. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Education from Buena Vista University in 1951. Mary also taught for two years in Iowa City while her husband was pursuing his doctorate degree.

            John and Mary moved to Pittsburg, Kansas in the summer of 1955 when John was hired as a professor at Pittsburg State University (then called Kansas State Teachers College). Mary enrolled in graduate classes as soon as her children were in school and obtained a Masters Degree in Elementary Education in 1969. She taught Title I reading for Pittsburg USD 250 at Washington and then Lincoln School for 19 years until her retirement.

            Mary was a member and past deacon of the Pittsburg Presbyterian Church and a past elder of the United Presbyterian Church. She previously volunteered for Meals on Wheels, the Pittsburg Beautiful committee, Mt. Carmel (now Via Christi) Pink Ladies and Red Cross blood drives. Mary joined the Faculty Wives Club when she first moved to Pittsburg. It was in this club that she met a group of women who soon became her best friends. “The group” played bridge, shopped for antiques, celebrated birthdays and laughed together for many years. Mary outlived them all.

            Mary was preceded in death by her husband, John, who died on May 20, 1978. Survivors include her daughter, Barbara Brown, Joplin MO and her son, John (Jack) Reed, Cherokee, KS; grandchildren, Emily Lowe (Brennan) Phoenix, AZ and Jason Reed, Chouteau, OK; a great-grandson, Bennett Lowe, Phoenix AZ; step-granddaughters Sarah Moore and Tressi Brown; and several nieces and nephews.

            The family would like to thank Chandra Stebbins for her compassion and friendship with Mary throughout the years. Thanks also to Mary’s caregivers and Avalon Hospice nurses and healthcare professionals for all of their help this past year.

            Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Brenner Mortuary, with no services planned at this time. Graveside committal of ashes will take place at a later date at Highland Park Cemetery in Pittsburg. For those who wish to remember Mary with a contribution, the family suggests memorials be made to The Pittsburg Presbyterian Church Music Department. These may be left at or mailed to the Brenner Mortuary, 114 East 4th St., Pittsburg, KS  66762.  Friends may leave condolences online at  Arrangements are under the direction of the Brenner Mortuary.

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Family to do services at later date

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