School 10

Mary Walsh

December 28, 1949 ~ June 29, 2023 (age 73) 73 Years Old


Mary Kathryn (Swift) Walsh passed away peacefully the morning of June 29, 2023.

Mary was born on December 28, 1949 in Pontiac, IL to Harry R. and Betty L. (Carlin) Swift.  She was preceded in death by her parents.

Born the second of three children, Mary and the Swift family moved to Champaign in the 1950’s.  Mary attended Holy Cross Catholic School and then graduated from Champaign High School in 1968.  It was there that she met the love of her life, Thomas J. Walsh.  Tom and Mary were married on June 8, 1974 at St. Mary’s Church in Champaign.

Mary is survived by her husband, Tom of Champaign; her daughter Kelly (Jake) Potter of Urbana; and her son Carlin (Melissa Xiong) Walsh of Irvine, California.  The light of her life was her grandson, Philip Potter.  Also surviving is a brother Tom (Billie) Swift of Springfield, IL.  She was preceded in death by her sister, Carolyn (Swift) Helm.  A host of extended family will miss her terribly.

Mary first attended Murray State University in Kentucky and then transferred to Illinois State University, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 1972.  She eventually earned her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Illinois.  In August 1972 Mary began teaching in the Rantoul City School system.  After a short stint at both Pleasant Acres and Myna Thompson Elementary Schools, Mary found her teaching home at Eater Junior High School.  There she taught Math for thirty-three years.  She loved all of her students as if they were family and went above and beyond for both her colleagues and her students.  The teacher that saw the best in every student, she was an advocate for all children – coming in early and staying late to help struggling students, keeping score at the volleyball games, chaperoning dances, or being a soft place to land for a child that needed one.

Mary received many awards and accolades throughout her teaching career, including a Golden Apple Award in 2004.  She was honored with a Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers Award in 1994.. 

After retiring from teaching in 2005, Mary shifted gears and returned to Eater as the librarian aide.  She spent another ten years sharing her love of reading and books with even more students.  Mary spent a total of 43 years in Rantoul City Schools, where she was known for her sense of humor, her loyalty, and her ability to connect with both her students and her peers.

Mary was an exceptional person whose legacy and love will live on in all the lives that she touched.

Wake services will take place at Owens Funeral Home, Champaign, on Wednesday July 5th, from 5-7pm.  A Funeral Mass will take place at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Champaign, on Thursday, July 6th at 10am.  All faiths are welcome at the church service.  Burial will immediately follow church services at St. Mary’s Cemetery, Champaign.  A luncheon will follow burial.

The family would like to thank Mary’s friend and caregiver, Allyssa Cunningham, for all of the love, support and care she provided Mary and her family throughout the end of Mary’s life.

In lieu of flowers, please donate in Mary’s memory to the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, Champaign, or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. 

“To teach is to touch a life forever.” – Jerry Whittle

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary Walsh, please visit our floral store.

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July 5, 2023

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Owens Funeral Home
101 North Elm Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Funeral Mass
July 6, 2023

10:00 AM
Holy Cross Catholic Church (Champaign)


Daily Bread Soup Kitchen
116 North First Street, Champaign IL 61820

The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research


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