2006-03-17 / Society

Mary Ellen "Mellen" Shea-Jackson

1951-2006

Mary Ellen "Mellen" Shea-Jackson, 55, formerly of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, passed to her new life March 6, 2006, at Duke University Hospital after a 14 month fight with inflammatory breast cancer.

Mrs. Shea-Jackson received her bachelors of science degree and masters in exercise science from the University of Massachusetts. She lived in Anchorage, Alaska for 30 years. She was lured to Alaska by her love of outdoor adventure. She climbed many of the highest peaks in North America including Denali (Mt. McKinley) and took many wilderness adventures. Her greatest passion became caring for and "mushing" sled dogs. She finished the 1,100 mile Iditarod sled dog race across the wilderness of Alaska from Anchorage to Nome and made six other trips to Nome as part of the Serum Run with famed explorer Norman Vaughan.

Mrs. Shea-Jackson was an educator, a teacher by birth and a teacher by heart. She taught and was a guidance counselor for Native American high school students.

Mrs. Shea-Jackson was known for her bright smile, cheerful disposition, and irrepressible spirit. She faced cancer the way she lived life, often comforting and inspiring other cancer patients even as she was losing her battle.

Mrs. Shea-Jackson is survived by her husband, Jimmy Jackson; parents, Jack and Marilyn Shea; her brothers, Jack and his wife Christie, Patrick and his wife Susan, and Mark; and her sister Suzanne Taylor and her husband Richard, all of Shelburne Falls. Also surviving are her nieces, Kate Kellogg, Heather Kochin, Emily Shea, and Molly Taylor; her nephews, Greg Shea, Simon Taylor, and Clayton Shea. She was also loved and survived by her in-laws, Betty and Rhett Jackson of Columbia and Kay and Jack Lawrence of Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Services were held in Shelburne Falls March 13 at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. A memorial service will be held in Anchorage at a later date. Memorials may be made in her memory to The Caring House, 2625 Picket Road, Durham, NC 27705 where she and her husband had stayed the past four months.

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