Mary Lou Mahan, 84, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, peacefully passed away on July 13, 2022, when she was called home by her maker and rose to reside with the angels. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Michael's Catholic Church on Saturday July 23, 2022. A Rosary will begin at 10:30AM with Funeral Mass beginning at 11:00AM. A brief luncheon will be held in the church parish hall following the service; prior to departing for the committal service at St. Agnes Calvary Cemetery in Vermillion, SD.
Mary Lou (Swedean) was born on May 26th, 1938. After graduating from Vermillion High School in 1956 she went on to study education at Northan State College and the University of South Dakota where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. Mary Lou got her first job as a teacher in the Iowa Public School System.
On June 13, 1959, she married the love of her life, Gene Mahan. The loving couple would have four children: Michael, Brian, Timothy, and Michelle.
Mary Lou and Gene were inseparable partners in their successful farming operation outside of Spink, South Dakota. In addition, Gene and Mary Lou excelled in Democratic Party politics where Gene was elected to the South Dakota state legislature and rose to prominent leadership positions there as well as serving a successful stint as the Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party. In politics, Mary Lou was Gene’s key policy sounding board and soulmate as well as his campaign advisor and campaign manager in a political career where Gene never lost an election.
Together they helped usher through some of the most progressive and forward-thinking policies the state of South Dakota has ever seen. This included playing a key role in revamping state government, making it more efficient and resourceful. In addition, they helped pass legislation that created a state retirement plan that is considered one of the best in America, and they helped lay the foundation for the South Dakota State Medical School at their beloved University of South Dakota.
In addition to her extensive work in politics, Mary Lou’s distinguished career included serving as President and a member of the Board of Directors at the Dakota Hospital/SE Dakota Nursing Home; as a private consultant for the Intrac Auditory Conceptual Teaching Program in San Luis Obispo, California; as a Sales Consultant to the Pacific Institute of Seattle; as a member of the South Dakota Hospital Association Council on Hospital Governance Board, as Union County Chairperson of the South Dakota Cancer Society; as co-chairperson for the Saint Agnes Catholic Church Appeal in Vermillion, South Dakota; as co-chairperson of the Saint Agnes Catholic Family Sharing Appeal; as co-chairperson for the Sioux Falls Diocese Catholic Family Sharing Appeal; as well as many other public positions.
Mary Lou was also a wonderful loving mother and grandmother. She was always there for her children to guild and be a sounding board. She loved all of her grandchildren and was present at all baptisms, confirmation, wresting, football, softball, band concerts, choir concerts, graduations from high school and college. Mary Lou loved and cherished traditions, her famous wheat bread and making oyster stew (which was a recipe that she passed down through the generations) will not be forgotten. Mary Lou was the matriarch of the Mahan family, and she will always be in our hearts and watching over all of her family and friends from above.
Mary Lou is preceded in death by her husband Gene Mahan, parents and sister, brother, and Sister-In-Law. She is survived by sons Michael of Marion, SD, Brian of Bloomington, MN, his children Elizabeth (Matt and daughter Hallie), Margaret and Patrick; Timothy (wife Ruth) of Maple Plain, MN, their children Hanna, Zachary and Megan; daughter Michelle Mahan-Langner (husband Keith) of Omaha NE, their children Zachary (wife Abby, children Penny and Evie), Katie Cox (husband Brian) and nephews and niece.