Mary Ellen Pastor

mary-ellen-pastor-photoOn the morning of September 8, 2016, Mary Ellen Marta Pastor died in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by her children.  She was 58 years old and died 18 months after being diagnosed with cancer. A native of New York, Mary Ellen had lived in Idaho for more than three decades, settling in Moscow after extensive domestic and international adventure.

Mary Ellen held two master’s degrees, one is Music and one in English. Her education reflects two of her great passions in life, which were hearing music and teaching ESL. Over the course of her career as a professor at both University of Idaho and Washington State University, she taught thousands of students.  She was also a great lover of nature and the outdoors, and she rode her bicycle, took long walks, and swam laps until very close to the end of her life.

Mary Ellen was as fierce a life-liver as she was a mother, teacher, and friend. Known for her critical insight, frankness, and loyalty, her words and actions will live on long after her passing.  She lived her life with little regard for convention, and displayed boldness to the end.  At age 22, she hitch-hiked from San Francisco to Juneau, Alaska, where she lived in a yurt without electricity for two years while teaching English at a maximum security prison.

Mary Ellen was also a devoted baseball fan, cheering for the San Francisco Giants from near and afar. Over the summer of 2016, she attended the MLB All-Star Game in San Diego. The night before the game, Mary Ellen was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery in the morning. Not wanting to miss the game, she and her son drove straight from the hospital to the ballpark, where she spent the game eating hot dogs, drinking lemonade, and booing every LA Dodgers player that came up to bat.

Perhaps stronger and more enduring than all of her distinctive qualities is the love she had for her two children, Isaac and Alina.  She was known to travel great distances and perform great feats for her children, including flying unannounced from Chile to California for her son’s college graduation from UC Berkeley, and living months beyond her cancer prognosis to attend her daughter’s college graduation from New York University.  They survive her and will carry on her legacy of appetite for life and captivation with the world around them.

A secular memorial service will be held at 12 o’clock noon, on Saturday, September 24th, 2016, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse. All are welcome.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Short’s Funeral Chapel, Moscow, and online condolences may be sent to

3 Responses to Mary Ellen Pastor

  1. maggie (meg) and donna says:

    dear issac and alina.

    so sorry for your loss….such a singular thing.
    the only words that come to mind are crappy and shitty.
    be good to yourselves.

  2. Bruce/Becky Miller says:

    We are thinking of you and so sorry for your loss, Isaac and Alina. She was a terrific mother as well as all the other things mentioned, and should have had more years. But she lived fully! I wish you comfort.

  3. Tammy Wallen says:

    Alina and Isaac –
    Your mom was a unique and fun person. I really enjoyed her sense of humor and her willingness to open up and talk about ANYTHING. I remember her running up and down Wallen Road with the jogging stroller trying to get back into shape after giving birth to each of you. She loved you so much and you were often the subject of our conversations. I know you have many wonderful memories. She loved you so much. I am sad for your loss. Remember to smile when you are thinking of her. She would like that.

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