OREGON – Mary Ellen Whitney Sassaman, 100, passed away peacefully on March 30, 2018, after a long and full life. She was born Oct. 29, 1917 on a farm between Davis Junction and Stillman Valley. She was delivered during a blizzard with snow so deep that her father had to take a horse and cutter over the fences to fetch her grandmother. Mary Ellen was the daughter of Timothy and Mattie Bear Whitney. She had one sister, Bette Lace, who preceded her in death in 2007. On March 19, 1938, Mary Ellen married Howard Sassaman at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oregon. They raised 4 children, Timothy, Twins Patrick and Michael, and Bridget.
Aspiring from an early age to become a nurse she achieved that goal at the age of 52. She graduated from Sauk Valley College of Nursing Program in 1970, finally able to pursue the career she had dreamed of as a teenager. She worked 10 years as an obstetrics nurse at Rochelle Hospital, and the remaining years at the Oregon Nursing Home. At the age of 88 she hung up her nursing hat. Previously before nursing she had been a secretary at Rockford College and Whitney Buick Sales.
Mary Ellen was president of Stillman Valley Grade School Board, President of Stillman Valley Women’s Club, Secretary of Ogle County Federation of Women, Ogle County Jr. Red Cross Chairman, Grand Regent Catholic Daughters, Charter Member and President of PEO Chapter IU, listed in Who’s Who of American Women 1976. She attended Browns Business College of Rockford, Rockford Liberal Arts College and Sauk Valley Jr. College.
Mary Ellen’s fun-loving spunky personality, wisdom and kindness to all she met will be greatly missed. She was a lover of cats and birds, enjoyed bridge, golf, genealogy, antiques and loved all the dances she had with her husband Howard. Her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren were all a source of immense pride and happiness.
She is survived by her son Timothy (Donna), Hot Springs, Ark., and daughter Bridget (Bernie) Bodoh Rockford, and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews.
Family and friends joined in a Celebration of Life for her 100th birthday in October. According to her wishes cremation was granted at Finch Funeral Home, Mount Morris. A private family gathering will be held in July. Special thanks to the caring staff at Oregon Living and Rehabilitation.