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Obituary of Mary Ellen Combo
Mary Ellen Combo, a loving wife and mother, Assistant Attorney General, and longtime Olympia resident, passed away at home on August 3, 2019, after a brave battle with cancer, which she endured with amazing grace. She was 68 years old, and we were blessed to have had her for nearly 27 years after her first cancer battle.
Mary Ellen was born on February 2, 1951, in Washington, D.C. to Irish-American parents, John “Jack” Xavier Combo and Eileen Mary Sullivan Combo. She had a wonderful childhood and was the second oldest of six Combo children raised in Grand Junction, Colorado and Idaho Falls, Idaho. Growing up in a big family was not always easy, but she treasured the closeness and friendships of her siblings throughout her life.
She was an avid reader starting early in life and was a spelling bee champion in grade school. One of her cherished childhood memories was being selected as May Queen in honor of the Virgin Mary at school where she donned a white dress and long cape. She also was a member of the Girls’ Athletic Association in high school, and played sports like basketball, tennis, golf, softball, and even threw the shot put.
Mary Ellen graduated from Carroll College in Helena, Montana with a degree in Biology in 1973. One of her summer jobs included working at Yellowstone National Park. She pursued a graduate degree at St. Louis University Medical School while working as a medical technician in the mid-1970s. She proudly celebrated the bicentennial on July 4, 1976, in St. Louis, where there were more people on the riverbanks alone than people living in Idaho at the time. She then moved to Spokane, Washington, and graduated from Gonzaga Law School, where she earned her Juris Doctorate in 1979. After graduation, Mary Ellen moved to Olympia, where she resided for the remainder of her life.
She was a well-respected, accomplished lawyer for over 35 years with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, representing many client agencies. She managed the Government Operations Division for a number of years before her retirement in 2015, and was well-known for her kind and compassionate leadership. She was a favorite of many in the Attorney General’s Office and will be remembered for her talent, grace under fire, and seasoned legal judgment. Those who worked with her had the utmost respect for her professionalism, integrity, keen intellect, and humility. She was a class act.
Family meant the world to her. Mary Ellen met her husband, Jeffrey, in 1982. They bonded over their strong family values, and married in 1987. She gave birth in 1991 to her pride and joy, Marissa. Mary Ellen loved spending time with her family above all else. They enjoyed many wonderful family vacations together. She loved her recent trips to the East Coast and Europe with her daughter, as well as her frequent visits to Palm Springs, Hawaii, and Portland. Mary Ellen’s other passions included shopping with her daughter, reading, watching movies, and attending musicals. She also enjoyed making delicious homemade desserts for all occasions.
Mary Ellen will be long remembered with great fondness. She was funny, warm, and thoughtful. She was a cherished friend and a supporting mentor to many. She was an extraordinary woman who had an ability to make everyone feel special and welcome. She radiated kindness and went out of her way to help others. She recognized the smallest gestures in life make a difference.
She was very loved and will be missed in so many ways by all those she touched, but her love, generosity, and good memories will be with us forever. Thank you, Mary Ellen, for your incredible presence and influence in so many lives. We feel so very grateful for every moment we spent with her, and she will live forever in our hearts. Memory Eternal!
Mary Ellen is survived by her loving husband of 31 years, Jeffrey Jaksich; and an amazing daughter, Marissa Jaksich, her proudest achievement. She is also survived by her four brothers, John (Jeanne), Bill (Trish), Jamey (Sandy), and Brian (Annette); and a sister, Kathryn (Mike). Additionally, she is survived by several nieces and nephews, a large extended family, and countless friends and admirers. Predeceasing her were her parents, Jack and Eileen; cousin, Dan; mother-in-law, Zorka; and brother-in-law, Steve.
There will be a memorial service and a celebration of life on Saturday, September 14, 2019, 1:00 p.m. at South Sound Manor, 455 North Street SE, Tumwater, WA 98501.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org.
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