Western Friend logo
Memorials: Sandpoint Friends Meeting

Mary Ellen Campbell

Date of birth

July 3, 1926

Date of death

Feb. 23, 2022


Sandpoint Friends Meeting

Memorial minute

Mary Ellen (Li) Campbell, 95, passed away quietly on February 23, 2022, at her home in Sandpoint, Idaho, surrounded by her three daughters.

She was born on July 3, 1926, in Nashville, Nebraska, to Glen and Emma Worley. The youngest of six children, her older brothers nicknamed her “Midge.” Mary Ellen attended schools in Nebraska, graduating from Omaha Technical High School in 1944.

After graduation, Mary Ellen followed two of her brothers to California, enrolling briefly in UC Davis. It was during this time she met a number of Quaker families and her husband-to-be, Malcolm Campbell of Long Beach, California. Though they hadn't known each other, and didn't come from Quaker families, both Mary Ellen's older brother, Charles, and Malcolm had been conscientious objectors in WWII.

Malcolm and Mary Ellen dated and in 1946, when he applied to do relief work in China, they had an understanding. A year later, he formally proposed by mail and she said “yes.” Mary Ellen sailed from San Francisco to Shanghai on a small Norwegian freighter with several passenger cabins. Malcolm met her at the dock and they were married the next day. Her name, Mary Ellen, became Mai Li (May Lee) in Chinese, and she used the name Li for many years.

In the fall of 1948, they returned to California to begin a family, settling in Tracy on a tract of land purchased in 5-acre lots by several Quaker families and others seeking a community with shared values. They helped each other build homes and offered their individual skills to the community. They were part of the post WWII back-to-the-land movement.

In 1958 the family moved to Oregon, eventually buying a small acreage in Newberg on which Malcolm raised hazelnuts organically. Mary Ellen moved to Eureka, Montana in 1982 where she owned a small guest ranch. At age 89, she relocated to her daughter's home in Sandpoint to be near family.

Mary Ellen had a lifelong habit of spiritual searching. She and her family were regular attenders at Quaker Meeting for Worship in Eugene, Oregon and later at the Multnomah Friends Meeting in Portland. After moving to Eureka, Mary Ellen joined the Missoula Meeting and founded a Friends Worship Group in Eureka under the auspices of that Meeting. Upon moving to Sandpoint, she transferred her membership to the Sandpoint Friends Meeting, which she attended regularly.

Mary Ellen was an accomplished spinner and knitter. She was active in the Fiber Guild in Eureka and served as its president for a number of years. During her life she enjoyed needle work, playing the piano, reading, both fiction and non-fiction, and family.

She is survived by her three daughters: Robin Campbell of Sandpoint, ID, Lynne Campbell and Loree Campbell of Sagle, ID; four grandchildren: David Fitz (Heather) of Tigard, OR, Clifford Rosean of Brooklyn Park, MN, Beau Rosean of Eureka, MT, and Tyrel Rosean of Billings, MT; and two great grandsons, Austin Fitz and Alex Rosean. Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her parents, her husband and five siblings.