Mary Lou Cowlishaw, 78, passed away Wednesday, June 23, 2010, at Edward Hospital in Naperville. She was born Feb. 20, 1932, in Rockford, IL, to Donald George and Mildred Corinne (Hayes) Miller. She graduated as Valedictorian from West Rockford High School. She majored in journalism at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana, and did post-graduate studies at Northwestern University. Honorary degrees included a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from North Central College in 1999 and from Benedictine University in 2000. At the time of her death, she was an Adjunct Professor of Education at North Central College. She married Wayne Cowlishaw on July 24, 1954. They have three children, Beth (Mrs. David) McDaniel, John (wife Jane) Cowlishaw and Paula (Mrs. Andrew) Rader; and eight grandchildren, Jacob McDaniel, Zachary, Maxwell, Alexandria, and Rachel Green-Cowlishaw, Emily, Elizabeth, and John Paul (JP) Rader. She was preceded in death by her parents; and son, John. Mary Lou has been a Naperville resident since 1958. She served on the Naperville District 203 Board of Education from 1972-1983. Prior to her election to the Illinois General Assembly in November, 1982, she was a member of the editorial staff of the Naperville Sun. She served as the Representative to the 41st District from 1983 - 2003. In 1981, she won the first place annual award for investigative reporting from the Illinois Press Association and authored the book, "This Band's Been Here Quite a Spell," about the history of the Naperville Municipal Band. During her 20 years in the legislature representing Naperville, she sponsored countless proposals. Some included the Chicago School Reform legislation, which became a model for the nation. She also sponsored the Education for Homeless Children Act and the legislation creating the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. Closer to home, she sponsored changes regarding hospital districts. This ultimately enabled Naperville's Edward Hospital to go from public to private status. She was credited at the time for "saving" the hospital. Some of the House committees she served on during her time in the legislature included the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, Public Utilities Committee, Higher Education Appropriations Committee and the Select Committee on Aging. She was a member of many of Naperville's civic organizations. She, along with friends, spearheaded the creation of the Naperville Park District. She was a member of Community United Methodist Church for 50 years. Recipient of many legislative and public service awards, one that was most special for her was the naming of a new elementary school in 1997 in Indian Prairie School District 204 as the "Mary Lou Cowlishaw Elementary School". Visitation will be held on Friday, June 25, 2010, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home
, 516 S. Washington St., Naperville. Funeral service will be held Saturday, June 26, 2010, at 10 a.m. at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 21 E. Franklin Ave., Naperville. Interment will be at Naperville Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a donation in her memory to North Central College, Advancement Office, 30 N. Brainard St., Naperville, IL 60540. Info: (630) 355-0264. www.beidelmankunschfh.com
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Published by Chicago Tribune on Jun. 24, 2010.