Mary McKenna Dwan

June 12, 1929 ~ June 28, 2020 (age 91)


Mary McKenna Dwan of Duluth, MN passed away June 28, 2020, at the age of 91.

Mary Clare was born June 12, 1929 in Antigo, Wisconsin, to Clara and Eugene McKenna. After attending Our Lady of the Holy Cross High School in Merrill, WI, she graduated from Marquette University. Mary joined the Alpha Phi sorority and met her classmate, Helen Dwan, who had a brash handsome older brother John Gagen. The couple’s courtship was a whirlwind, and they married on July 5th, 1952, a month after her graduation. They made their home in Duluth, MN.

She is survived by her daughters Katie Dwan of Duluth, MN, Susan (Ron) Johnson of Colorado Springs, CO, Patty (John) Smith of Colorado Springs, CO, Betsy McNamara of Hibbing, MN, Ann Dwan of Jackson, WY, and Clare (Andrew) Harting of London, England; grandchildren Claire Littlefield, Michael Littlefield, Charles Stockdale, Caroline (Ben) Sullivan, Molly (Ed) Mikos, Kittrick Smith, Andrew Smith, Michael McNamara, Meaghan McNamara, Mary Dwan, Gage Dwan, Henry Dwan, Hugo Harting and Florence Harting; great-grandchildren James Sullivan, Daniel and Josephine Mikos; siblings John (Elsa) McKenna, Michael (Heather) McKenna, Eugene (Didi) McKenna, Joseph McKenna, Kathleen Wilkes, and Thomas (Jean) McKenna, and many beloved nieces and nephews.

Mary is preceded in death by her parents, sister Patricia McKenna, husband John, and son-in-law Michael McNamara.

A lifelong Catholic, Mary attended St. Michael’s, Holy Rosary, and St. Raphael’s parishes. She looked forward to seeing her friends every Saturday evening at mass. Mary was a past board member of Duluth Cathedral High School.

Known for her generous nature, Mary was a supporter of many Duluth-area causes. Her affiliation with the Miller-Dwan Foundation was especially precious to her. She was instrumental in the founding of Amberwing Center for Youth and Family Well-Being. She loved a good party, as demonstrated by her annual sponsorship of ARTcetera’s beverages, since the event’s inception in 1999. When Mary’s hometown decided to build a community swimming pool, the Clara R. McKenna Aquatic Center was constructed with major support from Mary and John Dwan. Mary valued education and underwrote the educational costs of many students, in their pursuit of undergraduate, medical, and law degrees. Several of her nieces and nephews graduated debt-free with her assistance. The Pike Lake Area Association Invasive Species Inspection Program benefited from her commitment to keep the lake beautiful and the water healthy for future generations.

She was passionate about many things including the Christmas season and all its traditions, complex needle arts, her spoiled dog Chloe, reading mysteries/thrillers, her splendid garden, and spending time with family, at her needlepoint-filled lake house. Mary will be remembered for her compassion, vivacity, hospitality, and as a loving matriarch.

Our mom’s life was enriched by the loving care she received from Derek Ali, Alysha Anderson, Tiffany Bober, Kaley Johnson, Ivy Kuschke, Janel Olesiak, Sue Pohjola, and Elizabeth Poskie. We are forever grateful.

A Memorial Mass and Celebration of Mary’s life will be planned when conditions allow.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Miller-Dwan Foundation, 504 E. Second Street, Duluth, Mn 55805; St. Raphael’s Catholic Church, 5779 Seville Rd., Hermantown, MN 55811; Pike Lake Area Association, c/o Mark Raushenfels, 5977 S. Pike Lake Rd., Duluth, MN 55811.

Arrangements by Dougherty Funeral Home, 600 E. Second St., Duluth MN 55805

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