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Mary Jane Lewis Taylor, 84

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Mary Jane Lewis Taylor, 84

Died March 28, 2014

Mary Jane Taylor of Owatonna, Minn., died Friday, March 28, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

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Mary Jane Lewis was born on July 12, 1929, in Waterford Township, Mich., to Harold Lewis and Mary Jane Howland. Mary Jane was valedictorian of her 1947 high school graduating class in Milford, Mich., and attended Michigan State College where she earned a Bachelor of Science with high honors in Home Economics.

On March 21, 1951, she married Richard Taylor at the Parishfield Community Church in Brighton, Mich., settling in Brockton, Mass., where Richard worked at Producer's Dairy. Both Richard and Mary Jane contracted polio in 1955, which damaged her legs and would make mobility difficult as she got older. Despite these challenges Mary Jane continued to teach high school and concentrated on raising their three children. After Richard's graduation from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., the family moved in 1962 to Maynard, Mass., to join St. George's Episcopal Church.

In the 1960s, during their time in Massachusetts, Mary Jane became involved in the Civil Rights movement. In April 1965, she and Richard were part of a group of 50,000 people marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. to protest segregation in Boston schools. Back in Maynard, Mary Jane was active in forming an outreach group to foster relationships with families in the African American community in Boston.

In 1972, the Taylors moved to Red Wing, Minn., where Mary Jane continued her civic engagement, serving for two terms, once as Chair, of City Council. She also put her teaching skills to use volunteering at the nearby training school for young men. When the couple moved to Owatonna in 1983, to become members of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Mary Jane was elected to city council once more, serving for ten years. In her retirement speech Mary Jane reflected on the importance of teamwork and respect for her fellow council members, and spoke with pride of the many projects she had been involved with and her hope that these would serve the community well.

After Richard's death in 1997, Mary Jane continued to be very active in St. Paul's parish as a prayer group member and lay reader. She also continued to be an active member of the Owatonna community, volunteering as a homework helper at the public library, and with organizations serving newcomers. Mary Jane enjoyed her quilting group, book clubs, her CSA membership and social activities with her many good friends.

Mary Jane is survived by her daughter Faith (and Paul) Courchane; her sons Ben (Sheila Collett), and Tim (Clara) Taylor; her brother-in-law Robert Taylor and his wife Ellen; and her grandchildren Stephen Courchane, and Heather and Wesley Collett-Taylor.

A memorial celebration and luncheon will be held beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 10, at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 220 South Cedar Ave., Owatonna, MN.

Memorials preferred to St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Owatonna, MN, or to the Lily Sparrow Shelter for Women and Families, 345 East Broadway St., Owatonna, MN 55060.

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