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Mary McNeil


1921 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Mary McNeil Obituary
Mary Ellen McNeil

1921 - 2016 Longtime resident of Santa Monica, Mary Ellen McNeil, passed away last week. Mary Ellen was born in April of 1921 to Abbott Carson Combes Jr. and Gladys Ewing Combes. The Combes family lived in Elmhurst, New York and spent summers in Sheffield, Massachusetts. At age 16, Mary Ellen graduated from Newtown High School and was admitted to Wells College where she graduated in 1938 with a degree in economics. She continued her education at Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School, and During World War II, worked as a senior secretary managing 18 secretaries in the Army Ordinance Department located at 1 Wall Street in Manhattan. After her marriage in 1944 to John Donald McNeil, Mary Ellen moved to San Diego, California where she lived while John served in the Navy as Commander of the USS Achernar. In 1958, the McNeil family moved to Santa Monica. Mary Ellen earned an elementary school teaching credential and taught Head Start classes at Westwood Presbyterian Church. She remained in contact with Head Start families for many years after her employment. Utilizing her expert secretarial skills, she typed and edited numerous publications written by her husband, John, Professor of Education at UCLA. Mary Ellen was an active member and officer of the Santa Monica Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Her credited membership in the DAR was based on her having descended from Robert Field of Virginia and 11 additional ancestor bars. Mary Ellen will be fondly remembered for her gracious demeanor and her resourcefulness and kindness in helping others. Until her final few days, she was actively insightful and engaged in following world events and the U.S election. She was an advocate for both world peace and stewardship for the health of the planet. Mary Ellen is survived by her husband of 71 years, John; her children, Heather Larkin (Terry) of Los Altos, CA, Lisbeth Ceaser of San Luis Obispo, CA, Catherine McNeil (Mylan Jaixen) of Sudbury, MA, Juan McNeil of Santa Monica; her grandchildren, Donald Larkin (Maria), Kyle Larkin (Laural), Cerena Ceaser (Josep Palmer); her great grandsons, Craig and Ryan Larkin; and her brother Abbott Carson Combes, III of Northfield, VT. A private family service will be held for Mary Ellen in Sheffield, Massachusetts.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on Mar. 31, 2016
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