McEvoy mourners recall the professor’s loving spirit

Andrew Pritchard

Flowers and a black ribbon covered a Wellstone campaign sign near the Church of St. Luke in St. Paul on Tuesday, where University educational psychology professor Mary McEvoy’s funeral drew hundreds of mourners.

McEvoy was killed Friday in the plane crash that also killed Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone and six others near Eveleth, Minn.

Amid music and Bible readings, nearly 1,000 mourners remembered McEvoy as an active and loving person who worked for children’s rights, literacy and social justice.

“It’s a deep personal loss because she was a dear and close friend of mine,” said interim University President Robert Bruininks. “Mary was one of those rare people who occasionally inhabit higher education who can do it all.”

Bruininks said McEvoy combined her academic teaching and research with her efforts to improve society, especially children’s well-being.

“She has her fingerprints literally on very important state and national legislation” designed to help children, Bruininks said.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale, also a former Minnesota senator, attended the service.

The Wellstone family asked Mondale to replace the late senator on the Nov. 5 election ballots. A convention of nearly 900 Democratic delegates will decide Wellstone’s replacement in Minneapolis on Wednesday.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, DFL gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe and former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton also attended McEvoy’s funeral.

McEvoy chaired the University’s educational psychology department for three years after coming to the University in 1990.

She was director of the center for Early Education and Development from 1993-99.

McEvoy’s work at the University included promoting the integration of disabled children into regular classrooms, social skills training for autistic children and research on cocaine’s effects on unborn children.

Most recently, she worked for child literacy as the Early Intervention Services coordinator of the Institute on Community Integration.

She became involved with Wellstone’s campaigns in 1990 and was on leave this fall to work on his re-election bid as a DFL associate chairwoman.

The party “will never forget you and your spirit will live on wherever peace and justice are sought,” read a statement by party Chairman Mike Erlandson on the DFL Web site.


Andrew Pritchard covers state politics and welcomes comments at [email protected]