Mary E. Amundsen

Mary E. Amundsen

3/11/1940 — 12/29/2023

Mary Ellen Amundsen died peacefully Friday, Dec. 29, 2023, in Lewiston, following a brief illness and broken heart after the death of her husband Ernie two months prior.

Mary Ellen Bender was born March 21, 1940, in Fromberg, Mont. She was the fifth child of Mark Ralph and Violet Cecelia Cunningham Bender from Kinsey, Mont., a farming community just north of Miles City, Mont. She joined her four siblings Joe “Sonny,” Helen Jean, Dona Mae and John “Jack.”

She attended Kinsey Grade School where she was a member of Kinsey Cubs Cheerleading Squad. During this time Mary Ellen became responsible helping raise five new additions to the Bender family, Mark “Bill,” Betty Linda, Bob, Jim and Bruce. She took this assignment on with great enthusiasm.

Mary Ellen decided that she would be the first member of the family to attend Sacred Heart High School rather than Custer County Public School.

During her first year in high school, she was content riding the bus every day to attend Sacred Heart in Miles City but later her social commitments required her to stay after school for cheerleading practice and attend games. This also included singing in various chorus activities. She moved into an apartment in town and worked at the soda fountain at Rennrick Torgeson Drug Store. Her apartment was above the Bean Bag Grocery Store on Main Street.

She married and started a family in 1960 and had three children, Steven James, Scott Eugene and Janette Marie Friend. She raised her children in Missoula, Mont., while continuously working hard to support her young family.

Mary Ellen was a huge fan of her children and attended every sports game her sons played in. You could hear her enthusiastic (loud) cheers from the sidelines as her boys’ teams were scoring. She also supported her daughter in her cheerleading and choir activities.

She worked in retail and management roles, particularly at Sample Shack clothing stores in the late 1970s. She later became a District Manager for Avon, which took her on many trips around the country. She was awarded a trip to Greece for her successful sales leadership at Avon in 1982.

In 1993, Mary Ellen married the love of her life, Ernest Amundsen, in Missoula. They were married for 30 happy years.

They enjoyed moving around the countryside in the early years and then settling in Lewiston.

Mary Ellen cherished her four grandchildren and prided herself on being a grandma. Her grandchildren spent their younger years going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house every summer where she would spoil them rotten. Her grandchildren Brandon, Nathan, Hailey and Logan were her absolute greatest joy in life.

Mary Ellen loved gardening and making her home beautiful for guests. She and Ernie restored a 1910 house on Ninth Street in Lewiston and neighbors would stop by to let them know how beautiful the house looked.

She loved making three square meals a day for Ernie and her visiting family and sitting around the table laughing.

Mary Ellen is survived by her two sons: Steven and Scott Friend, daughter Janette Hitz (husband Riddell); stepdaughter Marilla Brooke (husband Richard); stepson Eric Amundsen (wife Jacquie, deceased); grandchildren Brandon Brooke (wife Melissa); Nathan Hitz, Hailey Johnson (husband Jonathon); Logan Brooke and great-granddaughter Nori Brooke.

She is also survived by her sister Helen Cashner, brothers Jim Bender (wife Barbara), Bruce Bender (wife Mari) and several nieces and nephews.

A service will be held at a later date.

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Business Hours

Sunday: Closed

Monday: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Tuesday: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Wednesday: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Thursday: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Friday: 8:00am - 5:00pm

Saturday: Closed

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920 21st Avenue
Lewiston, Idaho 83501
(208) 743-6541 or 800-584-8812