Cover photo for Mary Ellen Shaw's Obituary
Mary Ellen Shaw Profile Photo
1921 Mary 2023

Mary Ellen Shaw

September 15, 1921 — February 28, 2023

Mary left a note: "Thanks, it's been great being with you but I need to go Home now; they're waiting for me."

She left for her heavenly home on Tuesday, February 28, 2023, grateful for His care - past, present and future.

Mary was born in Pittsburg, Kansas, the youngest child of Steven and Mamie Shaw. She had three older brothers whose teasing sharpened her lifelong wit. Graduating from high school in 1938, she expected to work for a while, then marry and raise a family. But the Lord had other plans. He provided means for her to go to John Brown University. After graduation from JBU she earned a Master's degree at Kansas State Teacher's College and followed with graduate studies in Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma. Soon after that she joined Wycliffe Bible Translators and went with fellow Linguist, Helen Neuenswander, R.N. to work in one of the Mayan dialects of rural Guatemala. Together they analyzed the unwritten language, developed a practical alphabet for it, taught people to read and write, and ministered to them medically. They also started the process of translating the New Testament into the local Achi language.

During a furlough in the 60's they taught at the Summer Institute of Linguistics in North Dakota. During the intervening winter they took graduate studies at the University of Texas in Austin where Mary received a fellowship and taught a laboratory course in International Phonetics.

Back in Guatemala they finished and published the New Testament and began building a hospital to replace their heavily over-used clinic. Nurse Helen passed away before the hospital was quite finished, but God provided another mission to complete the "Centro Medico Cristiano" and put it into service. Refurbished, it is still serving today.

Mary remained in Guatemala until age seventy, teaching some home Bible Studies and working with local Translators, eventually including a new Canadian team preparing to translate the Old Testament. In September 1991 she returned to Austin to share in the home of Jewel Sundbeck and her mother Tina. She joined and was very active in the First Evangelical Free Church (Currently Austin Oaks) where she sometimes taught the Women's Adult Bible Fellowship class. Tina passed away in 1993. In 2016 Mary and Jewel moved into the Continental Retirement Community in Austin. They made many friends and enjoyed many events there. In December 2021, Mary moved to University Village Assisted Living & Memory Care Center. She remained there until she departed for Glory.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents and brothers. She is survived by loving nieces and nephews and their children, her good friend Jewel, and by numerous others whose lives Mary touched and blessed along the way.

Mary was fun! She had a great sense of humor, she loved telling jokes, she loved people and she enjoyed her life. She was a teacher, an encourager, with a heart of a servant and a spirit of true humility. She will be greatly missed.

A graveside service will be held at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the Colony Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family at .
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Ellen Shaw, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

11:00 - 11:30 am (Central time)

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