Mary Ellen Burns Rasmussen, 91, a long-time Yankton resident, passed away on May 4, 2013, surrounded by family in her Florida home.
Mary Ellen was a graduate of Yankton College where she met her husband of 69 years, Donald W. Rasmussen (Ras). In April 2008 Yankton College bestowed upon Mary Ellen and Don the titles of Mr. and Mrs. Yankton College. Both were extremely active while students and their zeal and commitment never lessened as they demonstrated their loyalty and friendship in uncountable ways.
In 1966 Mary Ellen and her family moved from Vermillion to Yankton and she began working for the State of South Dakota Department of Rehabilitation Services, a position she held for 30 years until her retirement in 1990. In this position the goal was to teach disabled clients from South Dakota the skills needed for future employment. Mary Ellen enjoyed working with these clients and felt each day was different as there was never a dull moment.
Throughout her life, Mary Ellen was active in her community. She was a loyal member of the Order of Eastern Star holding an office or station during most of her life. She was Worthy Matron for three non-consecutive years and held appointive or elective stations for all other years. She was also appointed as Grand Ada in 1992 for the Grand Chapter of South Dakota. She held memberships in The American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters, Interchange, Inc. and nine years on the board of Yankton County Historical Society. She was active during her State Employment with the South Dakota Rehabilitation Association serving as president of each. Mary Ellen was dedicated to Christ Episcopal Church serving in several areas over the years, and was recognized as a “Valiant Woman” in 2010. Both Mary Ellen and Don were politically active throughout their lives and a highlight was attending the JFK Inaugural.
Mary Ellen was an avid nature lover and enjoyed all kinds of yard work from trimming the hedge to pruning bushes to growing flowers. She enjoyed reading horticulture and landscaping magazines and loved watching an SDSU program called Garden Line.
Growing up on a farm in Redfield, she had many pets and grew up being a passionate animal lover ~ kitties winning as her favorites. She also enjoyed bird watching and wanted to be sure their feeders and baths were always properly cared for.
Mary Ellen was close to her loving family and, at all times, deeply appreciated their generous and loving support. She is survived by “Ras” who just celebrated his 94th birthday; two children, Dean Rasmussen (Amy) of West Chester, PA and Patricia Ernst (Will) of Boynton Beach, FL; and four grandchildren, Teresa Miller, Tanya Welsch, Kristin Francis and Tod Francis; and one great grandchild, Victoria Francis Durazo.
She will be remembered for her bright smile, generous spirit and volunteer involvement.
Donations in her memory may be made to Christ Episcopal Church, 517 Douglas Ave. Yankton, SD 57078.