Mary L. McBreen Newton

Jan 2, 2023

On January 2, 2023, Mary L. McBreen Newton, loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and special friend to many, passed away at the age of 99. Arrangements are under the direction of the Robinson Funeral Home, formerly the Schuchert-Lentz Funeral Home in Spirit Lake. Online condolences may be left at
Mary was born on June 1,1923, on a farm south of Superior, Iowa, to John Joseph McBreen and Mazie Gem Gilbert McBreen. Mary grew up with her parents and six siblings on the family farm, tending to the many responsibilities of farming. Mary loved school and graduated from Spirit Lake High School in 1941. After graduating from high school, she wanted more than anything to become a nurse. She attended Saint Joseph Mercy College of Nursing and graduated with an RN degree in 1944. 

On Labor Day 1944, Mary McBreen met Grover “Bud” Newton at a dance at the Roof Garden in Arnolds Park, Iowa. The stars aligned for Mary and Bud. After a short and sweet courtship between Sioux City and St. Olaf College, where Bud was in the US Navy attending flight school, Mary and Bud were married. The ceremony took place on the St. Olaf campus at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, presided over by Father James O’Hara on December 28, 1944. 

After Bud was discharged from the Navy, Bud and Mary farmed for twelve years in the Spirit Lake area. They then moved to Tucson, Arizona, for three years to spend time with Mary’s father, Joe McBreen. In 1961, they moved back to Spirit Lake and farmed for six more years. Mary always loved living on the farm. Country life meant a lot to her. According to Mary, “It is so peaceful on the farm and in the country.”

Of course, Mary loved nursing, too. As a dedicated and caring nurse, Mary’s nursing career spanned over 40 years. She worked in hospitals from Northfield, Minnesota, to Athens, Georgia, to Atlantic City, NJ, to Marcus Snyder Memorial in Spirit Lake, Iowa, to Tucson Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, and finally to Dickinson County Memorial Hospital in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Her very favorite role as a nurse was in maternity, labor, and delivery.

Once Mary and Bud retired, they spent 30 joyful years being snowbirds in Tucson, Arizona and living in Lake Okoboji in the summer months. Mary and Bud spent many years enjoying golfing with their friends and hosting golf parties. One of Mary’s many passions during retirement was keeping up to date with computer technology…she was a whiz using the internet. She loved keeping up with friends through email and making creative birthday cards for all of her family and friends far and wide.

Left to cherish her memory are two sons and two daughters and their spouses— Mike and Kathy Newton, Kate and David Dickson, John and Darla Newton, JoAnne and Ben McCullough; eight grandchildren—Tim and Elizabeth Newton, David Newton, Jeni Thompson, Mark Newton, Mollie Harris, Rose Dickson, and Kelly Rose McCullough; and eight grea-grandchildren. Mary was preceded in death by her husband Bud; infant daughter, Kelly Anne; parents, Joe and Maize Gem McBreen; five brothers—George, Wendell, John, James, and William; and sister, Patricia McBreen Grimm.
Mary’s love transformed the lives of her family, friends, and everyone she encountered. She brought a bounty of love to everything she did…with her optimism, smile and unbounded curiosity. She had a remarkable ability to connect with people, share herself and inspire that same spirit of love in each person she knew.

There was a Celebration of Life, visitation and a Catholic Mass on Friday, January 6, 2023, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. 

In lieu of flowers please consider a donation in memory of Mary to: Lakes Regional Healthcare Homecare Hospice. Lakes Regional Hospital Volunteers, Women’s VFW Auxiliary, Wel-Life Spirit Lake, Iowa, and St Mary’s Catholic Church.