Author Francis H. Cook, in his book The Jewel Net of Indra, describes a vast net that reaches infinitely in all directions. In that net are an infinite number of glittering jewels. Each individual jewel reflects all of the other jewels, and the reflected jewels also reflect all of the other jewels. As a reflection of generosity and serenity passed down from one generation to the next ––a compassion that embraces her children, grandchildren and the children of our region — Mary M. Dwan was one of those jewels. She died on June 27th at the age of 91.
Mary’s intense love of her family, her faith and her community provided the means for Miller-Dwan Foundation and Essentia Health to create regional medical care that goes far beyond the usual standard of care. Her generosity supported the historical specialty areas of Essentia Health, formerly Miller-Dwan Medical Center, making them the top-performing health care departments in the region. With her help, the Miller-Dwan Foundation was able to remodel the Dwan Burn Center, create the Miller-Dwan Spiritual Center, build Solvay Hospice House and support a myriad of organizations that do the magnificent work of caring for the people of our region. Mary was the first to stand up in support of Amberwing – Center for Youth and Family Well-Being, providing a leadership gift that encouraged others to join together to transform children’s mental health care. It was her insight that gave the facility name, forever associating mental wellness with the Amberwing dragonfly that continues to fly even after losing a set of wings. Amberwing is both a testament to her resiliency and her hope for strength in others.
With her family’s legacy of nurturing the region’s health long since established, Mary could have done less, or done nothing at all. After all, the extraordinary generosity of her mother-in-law, Mary C. Dwan, created and expanded Miller-Dwan Hospital and seeded the beginning of the Miller-Dwan Foundation. “My mother-in-law was a very good influence—in the way she lived, what she said and what she did,” says Mary, whose words and deeds have had a powerful influence of their own. “If you don’t act, who else is going to?” says the long-time Duluth resident.
Mary M. Dwan reached out to the region’s families with gifts and insights that will have a lasting influence on generations to come. She is indeed a great role model and teacher for all of us who want to know selflessness, conviction and the passion for possibility.