Cover photo for Mary  Jo  Janssen's Obituary
Mary  Jo  Janssen Profile Photo
1933 Mary 2024

Mary Jo Janssen

December 11, 1933 — June 10, 2024

Mary Jo Janssen, age 90, passed away peacefully on June 10, 2024. She was born on December 11, 1933 in Wausau, WI to Louis & Mae (Sheridan) McNamara. Her family moved to Rhinelander when she was young, and she graduated from Rhinelander High School. She attended Mount Mary College and transferred to St. Norbert College the first year they accepted women, something she remained very proud of throughout her life. She was an elementary education major and following her graduation, she taught second grade at Edison Elementary School in Appleton. While at St. Norbert, she met Jim Janssen of De Pere and they were married in August of 1957. Over the next eleven years, they welcomed four children.

After raising her children, Mary Jo returned to the classroom, teaching kindergarten at Notre Dame Elementary School for seven years. She loved her students and enjoyed working with the wonderful staff.

Mary Jo was a 43-year breast cancer survivor and always an advocate for friends, encouraging them to get screened. No matter what she was going through, when asked, she would say “I’m very healthy.”

Mary Jo’s primary focus throughout her life was her family. She and Jim were wonderful parents and her children always felt lucky to be raised in a loving home. The Janssen family enjoyed many summer adventures, visiting relatives and going on road trips around the U.S. Mary Jo loved to schedule a good picnic into all of these travels, and her children only objected when they believed the picnic location put them in harm’s way (the side of the interstate highway near O’Hare Airport).

Mary Jo was a loyal Packers’ fan, a fine Canasta player, a skilled water skier, and a lover of all-things Irish. In retirement, she and Jim spent winters in Sarasota and summers at the family cottage on Lake Thompson in Rhinelander, one of her favorite places. Jim and Mary traveled often, visiting Canada, Europe, and Mexico.

Mary Jo was a steadfast friend. She met people everywhere and made friends easily. She stayed in touch with high school friends and always shared stories about their adventures. We want to especially thank her dear friends Carol Vermeulen and Rosie McMonagle, who she thought of as sisters. She was so grateful for their many years of friendship. Her sister-in-law, Kathleen McNamara, was also like a sister and she loved her dearly.

Mary Jo is survived by her children and grandchildren, Julia (PJ) Vidani and their sons Peter (Jenny) and Jack; Michael (Susan) Janssen and their children Rachel (Miguel), Adam (Kirsten) and Claire (Matt); Tom Janssen; and Jeff (Evaleen) Janssen and their children Zachary, Ainsley and Cassidy. She is also survived by two great grandsons, Beau Ferebee and Francis Vidani.

In addition to her parents and Jim’s parents (Leo & Marie Janssen), Mary Jo was preceded in death by her dear husband Jim in 2006. They had a true partnership and are now together again. Her brother Murray and his wife Lucille, and her brother Sheridan also predeceased her, as well as Jim’s brother Bill and his wife Muriel.

Mary Jo was a fun-loving, adventurous, and kind person, and a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend and advocate for people with difficulties. Memorials may be made to her special charity, St. John’s Homeless Shelter.

The family would like to thank Heartland Hospice for their dedicated assistance and most especially Woodside Assisted Living and Woodside Memory Care for the deeply compassionate care provided.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, June 30 at Cotter Funeral Home, 860 N Webster Ave, De Pere from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a prayer service.

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

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, June 30, 2024

3:00 - 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Starts at 5:00 pm (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 96

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree