Cover photo for Mary Ellen Carew's Obituary
Mary Ellen Carew Profile Photo

Mary Ellen Carew

December 1, 1936 — November 21, 2022

Mary Ellen Carew

Mary Ellen Carew passed away while in hospice care on November 21st, 2022. She was born in Lincoln, Nebraska on December 1st, 1936. Mary Ellen grew up in Fargo, ND the youngest of five children, and the only daughter of Francis (Frank) and Mary Dolores Dwyer.

Mary Ellen attended The College of St. Benedict, in St. Joseph, MN. She was a novice at that time with The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet before discerning that religious life was not her calling. However she kept close connections in that religious community; those friendships remained a source of inspiration, connection, and joy in her life. After graduation Mary Ellen worked at The Liturgical Press until she married Donald Carew in 1960, they had four children.

She began her studies in creative writing at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, she went on to earn an MFA in Creative Writing at City College in NYC.

Her greatest challenge was losing her hearing in her 20’s and 30’s while raising a young family. Early in her deafness, learning lip reading enabled her to work editing and publishing marketing research at Frank Magid & Associates in Marion Iowa. Once her children left home, Mary moved to Washington DC to work at Gallaudet University, the National University for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Her hearing loss had isolated her until she found this deaf community in Washington, DC.

Mary became fluent in signing and thrived. She worked at Gallaudet for 20 years before retiring. While at Gallaudet, Mary became the Managing Editor for The American Annuals for the Deaf. She was known for and most enjoyed mentoring deaf students; coaching them to navigate the hearing world while working in publishing.

Mary Ellen is survived by her children Peggy Race of Waterbeck, Scotland, and her husband, Henry; Sarah Woodruff of Bloomfield, NJ, and her husband, Jay; Katie Carew-Abdou of Plymouth MI; and Thomas Carew of Mt. Vernon, IA. She leaves seven grandchildren: Ian and Sean Denson; George Race; Joe, Sam and Anne Woodruff; Claire Abdou; and four great grandchildren, Jack, Ayla, Rory and Lennox Denson.

The end of her life was characterized by the love and deep connections with friends in the deaf community, who showed up enforce to visit her while she was in hospice. A nurse overseeing her care commented, “Mary has the most visitors of anyone in the nursing home”.

Mary Ellen was known for her keen intellect, her courage, her love of people, and an impish sense of humor. Among her high school friends she was known as “The wildest Irish rose”. She loved her family and was a cherished aunt, and grandmother. She was a life-long writer, publishing poetry and short stories throughout her career, and finalizing her last work Zen and the Art of Deafness for publication in 2021.

At her request cremation has taken place and she will be remembered at a private gathering in Plymouth, MI the summer of 2023. 

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