Cover photo for Mary Ellen Patton's Obituary
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1930 Mary 2022

Mary Ellen Patton

May 27, 1930 — January 18, 2022

Youngstown-Mary Ellen Byler Patton, 91, died January 18, 2022, surrounded by her children. She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert M. Patton in 2001.

Born on May 27,1930 in New Wilmington, PA, she was the daughter of the late Charles and Verma McElwain Byler. She was a member of the Western Reserve United Methodist Church, Canfield, Ohio.

Mary Ellen graduated from New Wilmington High School as salutatorian where she was also a cheerleader. A proud registered nurse, she graduated from the Youngstown Hospital Association (YHA) School of Nursing in 1951. She completed additional coursework at Youngstown State University.  Mary Ellen practiced and retired from the YHA Southside Emergency Room, Youngstown, Ohio.  She then served as the Executive Director of the District Three of the Ohio Nurses Association for over 20 years until 2003.

Mary Ellen was a staff nurse leader during her entire nursing career. Known nationally as a nurse advocate, Mary Ellen championed causes for bedside nurses that included improving the work environment, wages, and greater leadership roles for registered nurses within healthcare settings. She was courageous during a time when it was unusual for women to speak out, and her efforts achieved improvements in salaries and benefits across the nation.  In 1965, she led the effort to organize nurses in Youngstown at YHA, which resulted in the nurses’ mass resignation and the establishment of the first collective bargaining unit of the Ohio Nurses Association and the second in the nation. This work and subsequent actions by the nurses at Youngstown elevated nurses’ role and visibility resulting in greater economic benefits, enhanced responsibilities and improved practice standards for nurses beyond Youngstown.

Mary Ellen exemplified the qualities of a staff nurse leader as a local, district, state, and national leader and officer.   Mary Ellen became the first staff nurse to be elected to the American Nurses Association (ANA) Board of Directors in 1972, serving for eight years while also serving as the Ohio Nurses Association Treasurer for four of those years. She continuously served the local unit and district in many capacities and served the ANA on various committees. Mary Ellen has shown staff nurses that it is not only important to be involved but it is possible to do it as a staff nurse. She has been an inspirational role model and mentor to nurses all over the country as an often-requested speaker.  In 1995, the ANA established a national award in her honor, The Mary Ellen Patton Staff Nurse Leadership Award. This prestigious award recognizes an individual staff nurse who has made significant contributions to the professional advancement of staff nurses and improvement of the general welfare of staff nurses, and who has demonstrated leadership in the nursing profession.

Recipient of multiple awards including the top honor in the nursing profession, Mary Ellen was inducted into the ANA Hall of Fame in 2015.  Following tradition, she was the first recipient of the Mary Ellen Patton Staff Nurse Leadership Award (1996). She also received the Shirley Titus Award (ANA, 1982), the Ohio Nurses Association Diamond Jubilee Nurse Award (1989), the YMCA Woman of the Year (1990), and the Youngstown Recognition of Leadership (1988-1989). She was known for her numerous community activities and projects that served children and those with disabilities, including "Fulfill a Dream of Ohio," "Year of the Handicapped" park project and "Year of the Child" project.

Mary Ellen enjoyed spending time with her family, especially activities with her grandchildren, and most definitely loving her puppies.

She is survived by her four children whom she adored and admired for each of their accomplishments, Betty Jane Panchik (Frank), Robert R. (Andrea) and John C., all of Youngstown, and Rebecca M. of Cleveland, OH and grandchildren, Alex Flauto (Tiffany), Rory Timlin, Marc Flauto, Zachary Patton, and Christopher Patton.   A sister, Betty Jane Byler, and two brothers, Donald R. Byler and Thomas Byler, preceded her in death.

The family is grateful for Mary Ellen’s caregivers that included Pam, Theresa McGlynn, Angela, Shirley Thomas, Patti Bansberg, Darla, and Jane. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Mary Ellen to support The Mary Ellen Patton Endowed Fund may be made to Kent State School of Nursing, 800 E. Summit St., Kent, OH 44242, or by visiting ksu.convio.net/Patton. This fund supports nursing students’ attendance at national nursing meetings.

Private family services and interment at Neshannock Presbyterian Church Cemetery in New Wilmington, PA were held.  A celebration of life is planned for May 2022.
Arrangements were handled by the Davis-Becker Funeral Home. Please visit www.beckerobits.com to share memories and online condolences with the family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Ellen Patton, please visit our flower store.

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