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Mary Ellen J. Tietjen, 86

Long-time Montgomery resident

September 6, 1936 - April 12, 2023

Mary Ellen J. Tietjen of Belle Mead died on Wednesday, April 12 at the Princeton Medical Center with loved ones by her side.


Mary Ellen was born in Queens, NY on September 6, 1936 and had been a resident of Montgomery Township for 58 years. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and great friend to many who were blessed of have known her.


Mary Ellen’s true passion was her family and friends, selflessly putting her husband Jim and sons Russ and Keith as well as her extended family and friends’ needs ahead of her own. Her entire life she ensured those around her were truly loved and had a special place in her heart. She wrote countless holiday cards, thank yous, sympathy, and other notes to her many loved ones. Mary Ellen endlessly sought out ways to make other’s days and lives more special and enriched.


Mary Ellen grew up in Maspeth, NY and graduated Grover Cleveland high school at only 15 and Queens College at the young age of 18. She married her college sweetheart Jim four years later. They were married for nearly 58 years until his death.


Mary Ellen and Jim moved to State College, PA when Jim pursued his PhD. Mary Ellen worked in banking until shortly before her first child Russ was born. The couple made lifelong friends who enjoyed all the college town had to offer, including legendary Penn State weekends where they packed a month’s worth of fun into every weekend. This tradition continued expanding for decades eventually including Keith’s Penn State friends. Mary Ellen and her friends were always the backbone of the tailgates coming prepared with all kinds of delightful treats and Penn State memorabilia.


After State College, Mary Ellen and Jim moved to Belle Mead. She was active in the Montgomery Township community, participating in many clubs and organizations, including the Montgomery Women’s Club. She developed close friendships with the women from her time on Willow Road and then De Hart Drive. This group of friends shared common interests beyond their love of their families. The “gourmet group” met and cooked amazing meals while rotating from house to house monthly as couples developed lifelong friendships. Mary Ellen and her friends stayed in shape discussing current events on their daily walks. The “bridge club” was formed and Mary Ellen and her friends got together weekly celebrating life while honing their card playing skills.


Although spending most of her life in Montgomery Township, Mary Ellen and Jim had the opportunity to also live in Menlo Park, CA from 1990 to 1994 when Jim ran SRI International, a nonprofit scientific research institute. In California, they had many exciting experiences meeting a whole new set of wonderful friends. Trips to Napa and other beautiful California locations further enriched their lives.


Mary Ellen made every holiday, every birthday, every single event she was involved in wonderful for others. She tirelessly cooked for family and friends and the meals she prepared were always beyond culinary delights. Holidays were planned out weeks in advance so family could fully enjoy each moment together. Easters and Thanksgivings in the Poconos were particularly special to Mary Ellen. She cherished these times as she adored and loved spending quality time with her extended family. Summer vacations in Chatham, MA were a 50 year family tradition filled with wonderful memories. Mary Ellen also enjoyed taking trips around the world with Jim and her family.


She was always reading and exhibited a thirst for knowledge her entire life. She cut out articles for all those close to her providing incredible, customized information to her many loved ones. Mary Ellen loved to watch jeopardy, knew almost every answer, and probably would have won if she ever actually competed on the show.


Later in life, Mary Ellen continued to be engaged with her family with particular love and interest for her grandkids Dylan, Elle, Carson, Keira, Cole and Luke. She was interested in everything in their lives and was extremely proud of their many accomplishments, beaming with pride at all their academic, athletic and personal accomplishments. She was also very involved with and loved her daughter in laws, Stacy and Lisa very much.

Despite a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s, Mary Ellen never complained and always continued to put other’s needs above hers. She fought the disease bravely and despite it made the most of every day. She was a true inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing her.


Surviving are her son Russ and his wife Stacy Tietjen and grandchildren Dylan, Eleanor and Carson and son Keith Tietjen and his wife Lisa and grandchildren Keira, Cole and Luke as well as sister Ilse Ruckert. She was preceded in death by her husband Jim Tietjen, by her mother Sophie Gehentges (Stubenrauch) and father Martin Gehentges.


Memorial donations may be made to the James and Mary Ellen Tietjen Scholarship, Pennsylvania State University’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Attn. Karen Reese, 104 Deike Bldg., University Park, PA 16802 or to the Montgomery Township EMS, PO Box 105, Belle Mead, NJ 08502.

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