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Mary Irene McMullen Shankula Bywater – St George News

February 22, 1931-Aug. 20, 2022

Mary Irene McMullen Shankula Bywater passed away peacefully in the next life on Saturday, August 20, 2022. Irene was surrounded by comfort, love and family, a gift she had always hoped to have at the end of her life.

Irene has been called by many names in her life: Mary, Irene, Sister, Mother, Mom, Grandma, Nannie, Teacher, Mrs. Shankula, Mean Irene (of whom she was proud), Sweetheart and for her, most importantly, Follower of Christ. The Savior was central to her daily motivations as she prayed, read the scriptures, and shared love wherever she could.

Irene was born on February 22, 1931 in Cumberland, Cass County, Iowa. His parents were Mary Eblen and William Eugene McMullen. Irene is named after her mother, Mary, and her beloved aunt, Irene McMullen Greaves. She was the fourth of 13 children born to her parents. She loved her large family and had a special relationship with each of its members.

Irene grew up on a farm in Iowa during the Great Depression years. These circumstances made Irene the resourceful, hard-working, creative, tenacious and ambitious woman that she was. Irene could cook something special out of nothing, but mostly food storage. Her house was always clean and tidy. You would never see her go to bed with a sink full of dishes. These are skills that were taught and practiced by his mother. Irene taught and practiced this with her own children and grandchildren.

After graduating from high school, Irene’s ambition and dreams led her to Arizona in 1948, where she lived and worked on a ranch while attending Northern Arizona State University. In Arizona, she spent much of her time with Aunt Irene and Uncle Milton Greaves. She loved this period of her life. She won a scholarship and completed her bachelor’s degree in education and home economics. Arizona and the Southwest became his second home and part of his identity for the rest of his life.

Irene taught in Omaha, Nebraska; Phoenix, Arizona; North Ogden, Utah; and Evanston, Wyoming, during his 35-year career. She loved spending time with her students. She would light up whenever a former student stopped her and shared a memory from her class. She had a tenacity for lifelong learning. It was his mission to share this as much as possible. Even after retiring from public education, she continued to teach in church, service, and missionary work. She encouraged all her posterity to do all they could to develop their personal learning and talent.

In 1961 Irene married Ray Shankula and together they raised four beloved children: Teresa “Teri” Lynn, Celia “Celi” Anne, Randolph “Randy” James and Doreen Michelle. She always expressed deep love and admiration for each of her children. His family was his greatest joy.

In addition to her family, Irene has found the gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be her source of joy and a tremendous blessing in life. In the late 1950s, Irene, in her twenties, was looking for a religion in which she could feel the love of God and the Savior. She found it in the message and teachings of the Church. She read The Kingdom of God Restored by Carter Grant and was impressed that the message offered what she was looking for. After hearing the missionaries’ discussions and reading the Book of Mormon, there was an obvious choice for her. She spent her life in gratitude and exuberant expression to the Lord for all her experiences being part of this gospel.

Ray died in 1989 of cancer. Irene felt a deep loss over Ray’s passing. She transformed her sadness and loss into peace through experiences with family, friends, and service.

Irene married Elwood Bywater in 1990 and they spent 16 years together until Elwood died. Elwood provided special companionship to Irene through his ability to love and engage in meaningful conversations with her. They supported each other in their dreams for the rest of their lives.

Irene loved being a grandmother and “Nannie” to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She’s hosted legendary sleepovers with her grandkids over the years, filled with treats, movies, laughs, and waffles with ice cream for breakfast! She never hesitated to take care of the children, even when the great-grandparents arrived. She loved to hug, hold, kiss, read and spoil her little ones. Grandma, like her impressive collection of food storage, also always spoiled her grandchildren.

The years following Elwood’s passing were spent with Irene traveling to Ireland, the homeland of her ancestors, endless genealogy, scripture study, service, and her favorite family time. There were some of life’s greatest challenges during these years, as independence waned and days felt lonelier. Despite this, Irene kept busy writing in her journals and composing poetry. She embraced and lived by a favorite verse from William Ernest Henley’s poem ‘Invictus’: ‘No matter how narrow the gate, how laden the scroll with punishment, I am the master of my destiny, I am the captain of my soul. .”

Irene is survived by her children: Randy (Marilyn) Shankula, Celia (Ken) Shock and Doreen (Kevin) Brown, 12 grandchildren and their spouses; 46 great-grandchildren; and his siblings: Thomas “Tom” (Sheryl) McMullen, Sarah Jane “Sally” (Bob) Anderson, Robert “Bob” (Carol) McMullen, Steven (Judy) McMullen and Deadra “Dee” (David) Erickson.

She is predeceased by her parents, Mary Eblen and William Eugene McMullen; siblings: Francis Lee McMullen, William Eugene “Bill” McMullen Jr., Lenard Ray “Red” McMullen, Frank Eblen McMullen, Veronica Marie Harrison, Myron Leroy McMullen and Lloyd Allen McMullen. Also predeceased by her lover, Ray Lawrence Shankula; daughter, Teresa “Teri” Lynn Shankula; special aunt, Mabel Irene McMullen Greaves and uncle, Milton Greaves; and her husband, Elwood Bywater.

Visitation will be held in St. George on Thursday, August 25 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Metcalf Mortuary, 288 West St. George Blvd.

Funeral services will be held in North Ogden, Utah on Saturday, August 27 at 1:00 p.m. at Ben Lomond Cemetery located at 526 East 2850 North.

Arrangements are in the custody of Metcalf Mortuary, (435) 673-4221. Visit the Metcalf Mortuary website for condolences, full obituaries and funeral announcements.