On September 12, 2022 our beloved mom went home to be with the Lord. Mary Ellen was born on December 12, 1940 to John and Marion (Cummings) Vaché in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The family grew as they moved west, finally settling in West Richland, WA in 1950. Mary Ellen was the oldest in a family of three brothers and three sisters. She graduated from Richland High School in 1958 and was a proud and loyal fan of her hometown school – Go Bombers!
Mary Ellen attended Sacred Heart School of Nursing in Spokane WA, graduating in 1962 as a registered nurse. She made lifelong friends with her classmates and was a member of the Sacred Heart Alumni Board for many years. She and her nursing friends shared many grand experiences together, one of which included journeying to New York to practice their vocation. Her 1962 class photo can be found in the halls of Sacred Heart and her presence will be greatly missed at their 60-year celebration next weekend.
On January 2, 1965, Mary Ellen married the love of her life, Henry (Hank) William Thompson. Hank grew up farming west of Spokane and met Mary Ellen while he was attending Kinman Business College, after he honorably served in the U.S. Army. They moved to Portland, OR to start their careers and raise their three daughters and Hank’s two daughters. Mary Ellen made lifetime friends with neighbors and her co-workers at Woodland Park Hospital. In 1980, the Thompson family moved to Veradale where Mary Ellen became best of friends with her Valley Hospital work family.
Mary Ellen was an avid quilter, knitter, and reader. She was a member of the Spokane Valley Quilters, the Washington State Quilters, Tuesday Thimbles, various sewing groups that met at her neighborhood clubhouse, and the St. Mary Monday knitters who made countless prayer shawls for the community. She was also a member of the Friends of the Spokane Valley Library and enjoyed assisting at their book sales. Mary Ellen was a long-standing member of the St. Mary Catholic parish in the Spokane Valley and volunteered countless hours for many of the church programs. Mary Ellen loved Gonzaga basketball, especially the women’s team. She was a faithful season ticket holder for the last 17 years and even watched or listened to most of the away games – Go Zags! She never wanted to miss her time playing with the Whisperwood Ladies Bunco Group or meeting for Sunday Cocktails with her friends Chris and Peggy.
Mary Ellen is survived by her daughters: Amy Noreen Whitsett (Clint) of the Spokane Valley, Megan Marie Shirley (Todd) of Lafayette, OR, Bridget Anne Mayfield (Scott) of Cheney, WA and step-daughters: Melissa Suzanne ‘Missy’ DiLuzio of Goodyear, AZ and Tami Jolene Rafoul (Jack) of San Antonio, TX, and her seven granddaughters and two great-granddaughters: Katrina Danielle Thelen (Tylor), Sophia Elizabeth Whitsett, Josephine Rose Walker (Isaiah), Madeline Rae Shirley, Bethany Anne Shirley, Andrea Jean Shirley, Marie Claire Mayfield, Brinley Layne Thelen, and Rylee Quinn Thelen. She is also survived by her siblings: John Patrick Vaché (Katherine), James Michael Vaché, Katherine Anne Grothe (Michael), Barbara Joan Vaché, and Daniel George Vaché (Carolyn). Mary Ellen was “Aunt NeNe” to 12 nieces and nephews and 23 great-nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband.
Mary Ellen loved the ocean at the Oregon coast and spending time with her large, extended family of 70. She made quilts for every baby born in the Vaché family and never missed a family gathering or opportunity to attend and cheer on all of her girls and grandgirls at their events and activities. Mary Ellen will be remembered for the genuine love and kindness she poured over her friends and family. She showed how much she cared by the giving of her time and energy to all the special people in her life. The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Sacred Heart Medical Center, 8th Floor-South, for their loving care and kindness throughout our mom’s last days. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to: Sacred Heart Alumni Association, 101 W. 8th Ave, PO Box 2555, Spokane WA, 99220.
Please join us to celebrate the well-lived life of our dear mom Mary Ellen at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20th for the funeral mass at St. Mary Catholic Church in Spokane Valley, reception to follow at the church, and burial at 2:00 pm at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Otis Orchards. The Rosary will be at St. Mary Catholic Church at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 19th.
Please share your memories of Mary Ellen on her Tribute Wall.