Cover photo for Mary Ellen Purucker's Obituary
Mary Ellen Purucker Profile Photo
1918 Mary Ellen 2023

Mary Ellen Purucker

August 26, 1918 — June 12, 2023

Prairie Village


Mary Ellen Purucker, Prairie Village, Kansas,  passed away June 12, 2023.  

Mary Ellen was born, August 26,1918 to Belle and Thomas Moore in Cincinnati Ohio and graduated from the University of Cincinnati.

She married George F Purucker of Sewickley PA in Miami Beach FL in 1942 while he attended Air Force Officers Training. The couple was stationed in Washington DC, Wall Street, NYC, and Long Beach CA for the Air Transport Command. While there she was Chairperson of the Red Cross Chapter.

At war's end the couple moved to Kansas City where George was passenger relations manager for TWA. Later they started George Purucker Displays, specializing in large commercial outdoor holiday decorations such as the original Crowns in downtown KCMO. Meanwhile, Mary Ellen started her own company creating fabulous interior decorations.

She was an original member of the Village Church when it was founded in only one room in 1949 by Dr. Bob Meneilly. Teaching Sunday school was one of her fondest memories. Her favorite quote from Dr. Meneilly was "Be of good cheer." It drove her kids crazy but they grew into it. 

She was president of Sketch Box at the KC Art Institute, organizing the “Art in the Home” tour and BAFA benefit auction. She was a member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, Planned Parenthood, board member of Ronald McDonald House and President of the Janet Boone Service Club. She was on the board of the Epilepsy Foundation and received their “Excellence in Caring” award as well as a recipient of the “Hats Off To Mothers” award. The Lyric Opera Circle was very important to her since its inception, having been a past president and chair of the Lyric Opera Ball.

Mary Ellen, better known as "MeMe" to her grandchildren and loved ones, was founder of the "Concert for Champions", a unique Kansas City dining experience with equestrian showmanship. She had her own version of 4-H: Helping, Health, Happiness and Horses. Her life was devoted to and focused on her love of horses. She rode in college and continued to ride through her 80s.

She has always been a familiar face around the American Royal as an Ambassador and a Governor for decades. Her daughters share her love of horses and showed at the Royal in Quarter Horse and Hunter/ Jumper classes since the 1950's. As a longtime supporter, she was responsible for U.S.E.T. Olympic rider Robert Dover performing at the Royal. Her extensive stirrup collection is displayed at the American Royal and she was named American Royal Horseperson of the year in her 90s.

She was the co-founder with Mary Reed of "Friends of the KCMO Mounted Police Patrol" because she was committed to its importance for public relations and safety for the community

MeMe was a great supporter of polo as founder of the “Friends of Polo” Club and chair of the "Prince of Wales" polo tournament benefiting the kidney foundation.  She loved being involved in polo, eventing, dressage and was a board member of the Mission Valley Pony Club and President of the Mission Valley Hunt Club.

George and MeMe had been members of the Saddle and Sirloin Club since 1961.  Her attendance at the lady's trail rides was much anticipated as she always arrived in full hilarious and exuberant costumes, ready for fun with her girlfriends.

She may not have sat very tall in the saddle, being barely 4'11", but she looked even shorter driving all over KC for decades in the baby blue Thunderbird Sports Roadster her husband gave her in 1962. Her son Dick is now the proud owner.

There is a never-ending list of worthy causes she championed. When she finally gave up riding, playing tennis, skeet shooting and golf she stayed active with more volunteer work, book clubs, playing bridge, and cheering on the KC Chiefs.  Her positive attitude and sense of humor were an inspiration to all and a secret to her longevity.  She actually danced the Irish jig on a bar for her 92nd birthday party.

  Mary Ellen was preceded in death by her husband of 37 years, George, and her great-grandson Red Layne and survived by daughters Ann (Steve Cousins) of Lee's Summit, Jane Clarke (Sandy Koufax) of Fl, son Richard Purucker, (Jan Marcason) of KCMO. Two grandchildren, Trillion Layne NYC and Luke Smith, Ottawa Ks and four great grandchildren.

The family would like to thank Claridge Court for the wonderful care given to Mary Ellen in the final years of her life.

After a private family burial, a celebration of her life will be held at the Village Presbyterian Church at 69th and Mission Rd on Tuesday, June 20 at 1:00pm. Reception following services at the church. In Lieu of flowers donations may be made to your favorite charity or "Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood" (



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

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)

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Private Family Graveside

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Mount Moriah Cemetery

10507 Holmes Rd, KCMO, MO 64131

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