Cover photo for Mary Donelle Ramsay's Obituary
1954 Mary 2024

Mary Donelle Ramsay

July 6, 1954 — January 12, 2024


Mary Donelle Ramsay, 69, of Shawnee, Kansas, passed away on January 12 after a long journey with dementia. 

Mary was born on July 6, 1954, to Marie Hart and Joseph Tafaro in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. As an adult student, she graduated in 1997 from Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey as valedictorian with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Literature. In 2002, she earned a Master of Divinity in Theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. 

Mary served for six years as a pastor in the United Church of Christ at congregations in Monroe, Connecticut and La Crosse, Wisconsin before ministering as a hospice chaplain in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for seven years.  

Mary painted prolifically and integrated her art into her ministry, notably via the exhibitions Light in the Shadows: Portraits of Hospice Patients (New York City, 2002) and The Art of Healing (New Hampshire, 2000) which was featured in Harvard Magazine and The Boston Globe. She leaves us recordings made in 1969 and 1985 of songs she wrote, sang, and accompanied on piano. 

Mary began her call to service as a teenager in 1969 by volunteering at East Orange Veterans Hospital. In 1979, she helped renovate a brownstone in Newark, New Jersey into the Apostles’ House Homeless Shelter, where she created a cherry tree mural in the children’s area. 

Mary is survived by sons Jesse (Stephanie) Kates and Malcolm (Heather) Kates, grandsons Toby Kates and Jonas Kates, and dear friends from her several homes. 

A visitation will be held on January 19th at 2:30pm at Muehlebach Funeral Home at 6800 Troost Avenue in Kansas City, followed by a memorial service at 3:30pm.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to, an organization working to end mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia that Mary passionately supported.  



To send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Donelle Ramsay, please visit our flower store.

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Friday, January 19, 2024

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