Mary Ellen Totten

Mary Ellen Totten, nee Ashe, died Nov. 14, 2021, at Quail Garden Assisted Living in Livermore, California. She will live forever in our hearts.

Obituary Photo – Mary Totten

Throughout her life, Mary was a strong, capable woman. She was loved dearly by her family and many friends, including those from work, church, playing bridge, and those met through her artistic endeavors.

She was survived by children Robert M. Totten, of Danville, California, his wife, Terry; Phillip D. Totten, of Fort Bragg, California; and Tracy P. Totten, of Susanville. She was also survived by her sister, Ruth Knoch, of Fall River Mills, California; brother George Ashe, of Day, California; and four grandchildren and three great- grandchildren.

Mary was predeceased by her husband of nearly 70 years, Mark A. Totten; son David R. Totten; parents Frederick J. Ashe and Thelma G. Ashe, nee Brewster; brothers R. Paul Ashe and Kenneth Ashe.

Mary was born Jan. 7, 1934, in McCloud, California and grew up in the very small unincorporated community of Dana located 14 miles northwest of Fall River Mills, California. She attended the one room Fort Crook District School which was located across the highway from her family home. As she got older, she was employed as the school janitor; it was her job to arrive early and start the fire on winter days.

Musically inclined, she was in the chorus and band graduating from the Fall River Mills High School in June 1951. She loved music and played the piano.

She married in 1951 and briefly resided in Redding, California where Mark worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad. They moved to Bieber, California later that year where Mark took a new job with the Lassen County Road Department.

Mary was a very busy young mother, giving birth to four sons. The first three were born in Bieber in 1952, 1954, and 1956. The fourth was born in Susanville in 1961, following the family’s move there in 1959.

While a busy mom, she operated a small brickyard where she sold and distributed masonry supplies on behalf of Perkolite Concrete, headquartered in Pittville, California.

After her children had grown, she worked for the local branch of the Bank of America; the Lassen County School District; Leslie Jewelry; as a receptionist for Dr. Dent, a local dentist; and Cablevision.

She shared a love of the outdoors with her family. In retirement she and Mark spent many enjoyable years traveling by RV throughout the United States, particularly rural California, Alaska, Arizona and Oregon.

Work ethic, education and independence were values she instilled in her children along with a love for the “woods.”

She was quiet by nature and an artist at heart. She enjoyed painting in a variety of media as well as sketching. Her real art was sewing, knitting and crocheting, skills learned from her mother and grandmother Brewster.

She made much of the clothing worn by her young family. In retirement she was a member of the Weaver’s Guild. She spun and dyed wool by hand from raw fleece and knitted magnificent sweaters, caps, mittens, hats and other woolen treasures; often participating in the Blacksheep Weaver’s Conventions in Oregon.

She loved canaries and dogs, particularly long-haired dachshunds.

Conspicuous among her personal effects were the following verses from 1 Corinthians Chapter 13: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.