Mary Jo Wilcoxson, 69Mary Jo Wilcoxson, a long-time resident of rural Hudson widely known for her generous hospitality and energetic spirit, died from cancer Saturday at her home surrounded by family.
Mary Jo Wilcoxson, a long-time resident of rural Hudson widely known for her generous hospitality and energetic spirit, died from cancer Saturday at her home surrounded by family. She was 69. Mary Jo lived her whole life on Wisconsin dairy farms, including 50 years on Highway N east of Hudson where she and her husband Neil Wilcoxson ran a Holstein dairy operation and raised four children. She lived her final years in a new home on Mary Jo Court, her namesake road that is part of a subdivision carved from fields they had farmed before selling their cows in 2004. Mary Jo was born on July 21, 1940, in Red Wing, Minnesota, the oldest child of Melvin and Mildred (Nelson) Brown. She and her brother Jerry Brown, now of River Falls, spent their childhood on farms in the River Falls, Ellsworth, and Prescott area. Mary Jo attended country schools and graduated from River Falls High School in 1958. Vivacious and full of fun from an early age, Mary Jo remained close with high school friends throughout her adult life. Mary Jo loved to dance, favoring old-time country and polka music. She even met Neil at a dance. They were known as fun and spirited dancers, and frequently kicked up their heels at barn dances, weddings, and town festivals over the years. Neil and Mary Jo were married on September 19, 1959, at Ezekiel Lutheran Church in River Falls. Her death was just days before the couple would have marked their Golden wedding anniversary. As a farmer’s daughter, Mary Jo was quick to take on the duties of farm wife at the farm where Neil had grown up. In addition to running the household, she meticulously maintained flower gardens and a large lawn around the farmhouse. She also lent a hand with barn chores and field work. Mary Jo served for many years in the 1970s as leader of the Hudson Prairie Sunrisers 4-H Club and was especially known for instilling a sense of community service in the youth members. She also taught Sunday School at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Hudson. As her many friends and relatives can attest, Mary Jo was a tireless and ever-gracious hostess. She took great pleasure in hosting both the unexpected drop-in guest as well as large family gatherings and parties. She frequently had her children’s friends and cousins – and later her own grandchildren -- as overnight guests. For more than 30 years she played bridge with a group of women in Hudson. Although cancer claimed her life in the end, Mary Jo was a cancer survivor for 21 years after a diagnosis of breast cancer at age 48. Her early illness inspired a commitment to daily exercise. She often could be seen taking morning walks around the countryside in the great outdoors that she so loved. Mary Jo also had a great sense of adventure and loved to travel. Although getting away is difficult for dairy farmers, Mary Jo and Neil took car trips to many states from coast to coast. In later years they kept a place in Apache Junction, Arizona.
Mary Jo is survived by husband Neil, children Natalie (Dan) McNall of Minneapolis, Gregg of Hudson, Rod of Amery, Susan (Eric) Bjerstedt of River Falls and her eleven grandchildren: Katie Wilcoxson, Maxwell Bjerstedt, Cody Wilcoxson, Leah Bjerstedt, Emily Wilcoxson, Kaitlynn Wilcoxson, Ross McNall, Jessica Wilcoxson, Rachael Wilcoxson, Jenna Wilcoxson and Nicola McNall. She is furthered survived by her father Melvin Brown of River Falls, brother Jerry Brown and spouse Sandy of River Falls, mother-in-law Beth Linehan of Hammond, brothers/sisters-in-law Clair (Donna) Wilcoxson of River Falls, Faye (Dennis) Nelson of Roberts, Vera (Charlie) Grant of Hammond, Paul (Arlyss) Wilcoxson of Roberts, many nieces and nephews, as well as many other relatives and friends. She is preceded in death by her mother Mildred Brown.
A Celebration of Mary Jo’s life will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Bethel Lutheran HIGHLANDS Church, 504 Stageline Road, Hudson, with Pastor Brian Ferguson (Mt. Zion Lutheran) officiating. Organist Monica Weekes will be accompanying congregational singing while special music will be sung be Cody Wilcoxson and Mike Murtha. Burial will be in the German Settlement Cemetery in rural Hudson just up the road from where she and Neil farmed. Her grandchildren will be serving as active casketbearers. Visitation will be on Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in Hudson and one hour prior to the service at church on Tuesday morning. Funeral services have been entrusted to the O’Connell Family Funeral Homes.