Mona Kress Obituary (1947 – 2022) – Atwater, CA

Mona Maris Kress
November 26, 1947 – May 2, 2022
Atwater, California – Mona Maris Kress, loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother went home to be with the Lord on May 2nd, 2022 with her family by her side.
Mona was born on November 26, 1947 to proud parents Ira and Helen Kress in Fresno, CA. Mona lived and went to elementary school in Fresno until the family moved to Merced in 1958. Mona graduated from Merced High School in 1966. One of things she was most proud of was playing clarinet in the Marching 100 band. After high school, she enrolled in college in Riverside, CA at California Baptist College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Educational Studies in 1970.
While attending university in Southern California, Mona also met her first love and future husband, James Demianew. Mona and Jim were married on June 6, 1970 at Castle AFB Chapel. The newlyweds lived at George AFB where Mona began her teaching career. By 1973, the young couple had moved to Atwater where their daughter, Monica Lynn Demianew, was born at Castle AFB hospital. Mona lead a loving and fun filled life being a mother, teaching elementary school, and traveling. Her favorite trip abroad was when she journeyed to Thailand. She spent three months there with her husband. In April of 1974, Jim passed away at the age of 26 from medical illness.
From then on, Mona continued teaching in the Merced City School District while raising her young daughter. In her free time, Mona found great joy in entering and showing her beloved AKC German Shepherds in professional dog shows all over Northern and Southern California. Mona took great pride in her animals and it was her passion to provide loving homes to each of her dogs. One of her greatest achievements was being able to travel East across the US to compete in the National’s Competition in 1979.
In 1981, Mona met the final love of her life, Lonnie McDowell, at Christian Life Center in Merced. Mona and Lonnie were married at Christian Life Center on December 19, 1981. In the winter of 1983, they proudly welcomed their son, Lyle Ira McDowell, into the family on January 22nd.
Mona absolutely loved teaching elementary school age children; often saying, “There’s nothing better than seeing a child’s face light up when they understand something new.” Although she’d taught kindergarten through 5th grade, first grade was her favorite. One of the things that excited her most was teaching children to read. She was an amazing teacher, mentor and friend. Evidenced by families that repeatedly requested her and even changed school districts just to have their child in her classroom. For many years, Mona conducted the school choir at Luther Burbank Elementary school. They often put on Christmas and Spring concerts culminating in a district wide concert where she was asked to direct all the school choirs in the district for a special song or two. Mona finished the 34th year of her teaching career in 2004 after teaching several years at Margaret Sheehy Elementary School.
Anyone who knew Mona knew she loved ALL animals, football, anything crafting related and most importantly- her family. She was keenly devoted to supporting her children and grandchildren in each of their endeavors. Even traveling long distances to watch her grandchildren compete in various sporting events and graduations. She was a life long 49ers football fan, but would watch any game whether college or pro that was on TV. Mona’s animals brought her so much joy and fulfillment. Over the years she raised many different dog breeds including: German Shepherds, Border Collies, Pomeranians, and Borzois. She also raised horses, miniature horses and donkeys, goats and sheep. There was not an animal alive (except maybe snakes) that Mona did not love and believe deserved the upmost care and attention. For many years, she and Lonnie participated in the Christian Life Center’s annual Christmas production and provided most of the animals for the live nativity.
Besides her pets, children and grandchildren, Mona loved to craft. Her kids are convinced she had tried every conceivable craft known to man. Though she never settled on just one hobby, card making, scrapbooking and crocheting were the activities she spent the most time with over the last several years. Many people she knew were the recipients of handmade cards, scrapbooks and tailored scarves or blankets. Mona enjoyed expressing her love and sincerity through giving gifts.
Mona was a people person who never knew a stranger. She was a kind, devoted, feisty and fiercely loving daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and friend. She is deeply missed by all who knew her. We’ll love you forever, Mom. We’ll see you again!
Mona is survived by her 2 children, Monica (Conroy) Ellenson of Browns Valley, CA, Lyle (Jenni) McDowell of Fresno, CA; grandchildren Josiah (Cami) Ellenson of Deer Park, WA, Jessilyn Ellenson of Browns Valley, CA, Samuel Ellenson of USAF Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, Silas Ellenson of Browns Valley, CA, Hanna and Bladen McDowell of Fresno, CA; great grandson Jason Walker Ellenson of Deer Park, WA.
Mona was preceded in death by her parents Ira and Helen Kress, siblings Jack, Jerry, and Ron Kress of Tennessee, husband Jim Demianew and husband Lonnie McDowell.
Burial and graveside services will be held at Merced District Cemetery Friday, May 13, 2022 at 12pm. Memorial and celebration of life will be held Saturday, May 14 at 2pm at Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home with a reception to follow. Remembrances can be made to the American Diabetes Association or the Merced SPCA.
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.stratfordevansfunerals.com for the McDowell family.

Published by Merced Sun Star on May 13, 2022.

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