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Mary Ellen Thimm

December 11, 1926 - March 1, 2019


Mary Ellen Thimm passed away peacefully in her favorite chair on March 1, 2019 at her home in Salem, Oregon.
Born on December 11, 1926 in Portland, Oregon, she attended St. Agatha Catholic School and graduated from St. Mary’s Academy, where she excelled in academics as well as a member of the basketball team. Mary then enrolled at Marylhurst College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in 1948.
While attending Marylhurst, Mary worked as a welder in the Kaiser Shipyards. Following graduation she worked as a public welfare caseworker for Multnomah County. With the money she saved, she was able to attend Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., earning a Master of Social Work in 1951.
It was at Catholic University that Mary met the love and partner of her life, Joseph Leo Thimm of Detroit, Michigan. Following their graduation, she and Joe moved back to Portland, where they were wed in June 1952.
Mary served as a social worker at Catholic Charities until 1956 when the Thimms’ first child arrived. While raising three children, she was engaged in the civil and labor rights movements. She also joined the League of Women Voters, a group she would remain active in most of the rest of her life.
She returned to her social work career in 1966 performing diagnosis and evaluations for the developmentally disabled at Fairview Training Center of the Oregon Department of Human Services. An admired and valued colleague, she retired in 1986.
Mary had many diverse interests in her retirement years. She traveled with Joe extensively through the United States and Europe. She volunteered at food banks and with the Salem Art Association. She was a member of an investment group and the League of Women Voters book club. She enjoyed following tennis and the Portland Trailblazers; she was an excellent ping pong player
She also developed a deep interest in genealogy. Her research identified previously unknown relations in Perth, Australia, who Mary and Joe visited with in both Oregon and Australia on a number of occasions. One of those places was their Nelscott cottage in Lincoln City, a place that captured Mary’s heart and imagination, and that she generously shared with others.
Mary was a woman of quiet achievement and strongly held beliefs, which she was unafraid to voice when others remained silent. Her unassuming kindness and thoughtfulness touched friends and strangers alike. Yet family was at the heart of her life; as interests and involvements were followed, holiday gatherings orchestrated and birthdays appropriately feted, she made the depth of her love known.   
Mary was preceded in death by her husband Joe. She is survived by her three children, Mark Thimm (Patti Jo McCarthy), Paul Thimm (Tomika Dew) and Ann O’Connell (Jim O’Connell) and her three grandchildren, Melissa Thimm, Carlie O’Connell and Reese O’Connell.
Friends of Mary’s are invited to attend a memorial service and reception at 9:30am on Saturday, March 9th, 2019 at Virgil T. Golden Funeral Service.  Please no flowers.

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