Cover photo for Mary Ellen Phalen's Obituary
Mary Ellen Phalen Profile Photo
1932 Mary 2023

Mary Ellen Phalen

November 28, 1932 — December 21, 2023


Mary Ellen Phalen, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, passed away on December 21, 2023, in Omaha, Nebraska. Born on November 28, 1932, in Vernon County, Missouri to Homer B. Smith and Roberta M. (Ruby) Smith, Mary led a life filled with love and compassion.

Mary's journey through life was marked by selflessness and dedication to caring for others. After completing her education at Hume High School in 1951, she pursued her passion for nursing by becoming one of twelve students selected to attend Mercy Nursing. In 1954, she emerged as a skilled and compassionate nurse.

For the next three years of her career, Mary served as a nurse—touching the lives of countless patients with her warmth and empathy. Following this phase of her life's work, she transitioned into a clerical staff member role at the IRS until her retirement in 1995. Though different from her nursing profession, Mary approached her new job with the same level of dedication and commitment that she displayed throughout her entire life.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Mary had a diverse range of interests that brought immeasurable joy to her life. Gardening was one of her greatest passions—a love that began in childhood when she had a gardening project in her 4-H club. This passion continued to thrive as she spent hours nurturing vibrant flowers and flourishing vegetables in her backyard garden.

Apart from gardening, Mary found solace in quilting—the artistry of bringing together fabric and thread to create beautiful works that would be cherished by loved ones for generations to come. Her talent for quilting was awe-inspiring and showcased not only her creativity but also her patience and attention to detail.

In the kitchen, Mary's cooking skills were legendary among family and friends. She had an incredible talent for baking bread. The aroma that filled the air while she kneaded the dough and lovingly baked it to perfection was a testament to the comfort and love that she poured into every loaf. Her kitchen was always filled with warmth and laughter.

Mary's proudest accomplishments extended beyond her personal hobbies and interests. She was a very active member of the Red Bridge Church of Christ, where she found solace in her faith community. Her commitment to carrying out the teachings of her faith was evident as she volunteered her time as a hospice volunteer, providing comfort and support to those facing their final moments.

During this time of profound loss, Mary is survived by her loving family and friends who will continue to hold her memory in their hearts forever. She leaves behind a devoted daughter, Lisa Summers (Christopher), who will carry forward Mary's legacy of kindness and compassion. Mary's grandchildren were a source of immense joy in her life. Kenneth Summers (Heather), Matthew Summers (Amy), great-granddaughter Adalyn Summers, and nephew Christopher Cotton brought immeasurable happiness into her world. The love and bond between generations will endure as they reflect on the memories created with Mary. She is preceded in passing by her beloved husband, Donald Phalen; parents, Homer Smith and Roberta (Smith) Schultz; and sister, Maxine Cotton.

To celebrate Mary's extraordinary life, a visitation will be held at Carson-Speaks Chapel in Independence, MO on April 29, 2024, from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM. A Celebration of Life will commence after the visitation at 10:00 AM.  

Mary Ellen Phalen was a remarkable individual whose kindness and love touched the lives of others in immeasurable ways. Her selflessness, commitment to care for others, and unwavering dedication to her faith serve as an inspiration to all.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Ellen Phalen, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, April 29, 2024

9:00 - 10:00 am (Central time)

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Celebration of Life

Monday, April 29, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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