Mary Ellen Murphy, 74

Mary Ellen Murphy, age 74, of Camdenton, Missouri, passed away Tuesday, September 29, 2020, at Lake Regional Hospital after a valiant fight against Covid-19. She was born January 11, 1946, in Macomb, Illinois, a daughter of Cecil and Mary Eleanor Rockwell. 

She graduated from high school from the Western Illinois University Laboratory School in 1963.

On March 26, 1966, she married the love of her life, Michael Edward Murphy at the Christian Church in Macomb, Illinois. Together, they enjoyed over 54 wonderful years of marriage. 

In 1970, Mary Ellen graduated from Northern Illinois University, College of Education, with a degree in Elementary Education. Although she held a wide variety of jobs in the many years she worked, she truly was a teacher at heart. 

Mary Ellen taught for a couple of years in Elgin, Illinois until she and Michael adopted their first child, a son, Erin Michael Murphy in 1972. They made the decision together that Mary Ellen would stay at home and focus on the children when they were young. In 1975, they adopted their second child, Emily Michelle Murphy Overly. 

Mary Ellen stayed home for several years while her children were of school age. During those years, she stayed very involved in church, school and community organizations. She volunteered as a representative for several years for the American Cancer Society. She conducted many school and civic presentations about the dangers of smoking. Mary Ellen and her husband Michael were certified as Marriage Enrichment Facilitators for the Church of the Nazarene and conducted Marriage Enrichment Retreats for many years helping many couples maintain healthy marriages. 

When the family moved to Beardstown, Illinois in 1985, Mary Ellen went back to work for the Beardstown School District. During those years of teaching, she taught several different grades. She loved her students and often spoke of them over the years. 

Mary Ellen spent her final working years until retirement with the Cass County Human Resource Center. She held a variety of positions within the agency. She worked as the Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coordinator, she taught foster parenting classes and assisted in the agency maintaining CARF Accreditation. However, she was most proud of her work as the Director of the Birth to Three Program and the opportunity to assist in writing many grants for the agency to allow their great work in the community to continue. 

Mary Ellen had many talents. She could play the trombone and the piano. She loved to sing and was able to harmonize with anyone. When she was younger, she often sang in trios at various churches. Mary Ellen was an excellent dancer. She loved to dance and was so looking forward to the upcoming wedding of her great nephew, Ethan Hinderliter so she could dance the night away! She was a great dance instructor. She taught line dancing and also coached the Color Guard with Kay McKinney for the Beardstown High School. She was a gifted seamstress and loved making clothes for her family. She was often seen sitting in her chair working on her various knitting or needlepoint projects. She absolutely loved to read and was a faithful student of the Bible. 

Mary Ellen was a member of the Church of the Nazarene for the majority of her adult life. She faithfully served in numerous capacities: Sunday School Teacher, Vacation Bible School, Sunday School Superintendent, Church Boards/ Sunday School Boards/ Mission Boards and many, many committees. She served in Nazarene Churches in Elgin, Peoria and Beardstown, Illinois and most recently at the Camdenton New Life Church of the Nazarene where she was still teaching Sunday School up until the mandatory shut down from the pandemic. 

Mary Ellen loved the Lord and because she loved Him, she loved people. Mary Ellen often had people over seeking help and guidance. Her children have memories of this from a very early age. Mary Ellen often hosted holidays for people who had no family nearby. Many times, over the years, she opened her home to help struggling individuals and helped them get back on their feet. Mary Ellen’s greatest joy was spending time with her family and friends. She passionately loved her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her extended family and her friends. 

Mary Ellen is survived by her loving husband, Michael of Camdenton, Missouri; one son, Erin Michael Murphy of Camdenton, Missouri; one daughter, Emily Michelle Overly Murphy (Paul) of Huntley, Illinois; two grandchildren, Madison Jayne Overly of Bloomington, Illinois and Micah Joseph Overly of Huntley, Illinois; one sister, Barbara Fairbairn of St. Charles, Illinois; one brother, Paul Benjamin Rockwell (Evelyn) of Dade City, Florida; two sisters-in-law, Beth Rockwell Mattix of Phoenix, Arizona and Betty Ann Rockwell of Mahomet, Illinois and several nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews.

Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, Cecil and Mary Eleanor Rockwell; two brothers, Robert Rockwell and Donald Rockwell; and two nephews, “Little” Bobby Rockwell and David Hinderliter. 

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Mary Ellen Murphy Memorial Fund at the Camdenton New Life Church of the Nazarene, 135 Bear Paw Rd., Camdenton, MO 65020. Or through the church’s website:

Due to covid, a private family viewing will be held and a Celebration of Life service will be held at a later time when the crisis of the pandemic eases. 

Online condolences may be left at

Arrangements are under the direction and care of the Kidwell-Garber Laurie/Sunrise Beach Chapel.

Posted online on October 09, 2020