Friday, May 05, 2006

Tribute to Marie-Louise McMullen, Mother of the First Woman Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah

By Heather May
The Salt Lake Tribune

Marie-Louise McMullen not only inspired her daughter, Deedee Corradini, to become the first woman mayor of Salt Lake City, she also was a leader in her own right.

A congressional aide and antique-doll collector, McMullen died of leukemia Tuesday in Salt Lake City at age 89. McMullen was the adult-services director of the YWCA and later worked for Democratic Reps. Wayne Owens and Karen Shepherd out of their Salt Lake City offices.

She worked on veterans affairs and immigration issues. The latter was a good fit for McMullen, who reared her family for 11 years in Lebanon and Syria while her late husband, the Rev. Horace "Mac" Martin McMullen, was president of two separate schools.

Even as a minister visited her on her deathbed, McMullen was praying for peace. The unrest in the Middle East troubled her. Characteristically, she also was praying for others, said Corradini, now a Park City resident.

"There's something about her that people just loved because she cared so deeply for everyone and everything," said Corradini, who led Utah's capital from 1992 to 2000.

Kay Christensen, Owens' chief of staff, referred to McMullen as her "other mother." McMullen was 70 when she started in the congressional office, and she mothered the staff. She also was adept at working through the bureaucracy. "She didn't take no for an answer if she thought there was a way for something to be done," Christensen said. And "she had the cutest sense of humor. She was a minister's wife, but she loved a good joke."

Shepherd said McMullen was a whiz on immigration issues, essentially training new employees in the federal immigration offices. The former congresswoman said McMullen helped reunite many families. In fact, one of McMullen's recent doctors at the Huntsman Cancer Institute said McMullen had helped him gain a visa years ago.

McMullen was born in Ohio in 1916. Her mother died when she was 8, and McMullen was reared by an older sister. Her father gave her a doll when her mother died - eventually leading to McMullen's extensive doll collection. She was president of the Salt Lake Doll Council and an avid collector, possessing up to 300. One - an Izannah Walker rag doll - is worth almost $20,000. McMullen bought it for $20 during the Depression.

Corradini, Salt Lake City's former two-term mayor, said her parents told their four children: "We're here to serve others and do something that's going to make the world a better place."

On Monday, McMullen refused to take morphine because she wanted to visit with her family. Once doctors gave her the drugs and before she fell into a coma, she offered some final advice: "Love unconditionally and forgive."

I was touched by this article about former Mayor DeeDee Corradini's mother; especially with her final advice: "Love unconditionally and forgive." It is certainly advice we can all benefit from.

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