Mary Bresnahan

Mary E. Bresnahan, 100, of Waukon died Monday, May 11, 2020 at Good Samaritan Society in Waukon. Graveside services were held Saturday, May 16 at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Waukon with Fr. Mark Osterhaus officiating. A celebration of life memorial mass will be held at a later date at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Waukon. Martin Funeral Home in Waukon is handling the arrangements.

Memorials may be made out to the Bresnahan/McCullough Scholarship Fund at Waukon High School, St. Patrick Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Hanover Catholic Church, or to Good Samaritan Society, all in Waukon. Condolences may be sent to: Pat Bresnahan at 24 Sixth Avenue NE, Waukon, IA 52172; Peggy Walch at 50240 287th Avenue, Elgin, MN, 55932; and Dan Bresnahan at 310 Fourth Avenue S, Suite 7000, Minneapolis, MN, 55415.

Mary Effie McCullough Bresnahan was born October 6, 1919 in Waukon, the daughter of Dr. Joseph H. and Effie Mae (Hoag) McCullough. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Patrick Catholic Church. Mary attended St. Patrick Catholic School and graduated from Waukon High School in 1937. She went on to attend Waukon Junior College, the University of Minnesota, and graduated from the College of St. Teresa in Winona, MN with a degree in education.

Mary taught for two years in Grand Mound while living with a host family. Joe Bresnahan of Hanover Township, Waukon was her high school sweetheart and their marriage ended her teaching career, as her school did not allow married teachers. Joe and Mary married June 22, 1943 at St. Patrick Catholic Church. They made their home on Joe’s family farm where Pat, Peggy and Danny were born. In 1953, the family moved to Waukon, where Debbie was born in 1958.

Joe and Mary operated Bresnahan Oil Company, farmed, and raised chickens in town for many years. They were very hard working and loyal people. After Debbie’s illness in 1960, their devotion and faith kept them going and was also a part of their children’s lives. They spent 36 years devoting their lives caring for Debbie. They enjoyed camping, playing cards, gardening, canning, Notre Dame Football, their grandkids’ sporting events and wintering in Texas with Debbie. They continued traveling after her death in 1994.

Mary is well known for her love of family and very happy to share that all nine of her grandchildren graduated from college that they attended as freshmen. She also had a fond affection for sweets and is well know for her “candy drawer”. Mary and Joe were also very proud of their Irish Catholic heritage; she traditionally spent an hour a day in prayer. Mary loved to knit and crochet, and surely anyone that knew her has a piece of her handiwork.

Mary is survived by her children: Pat (Donna) of Waukon, Peggy (Dave) Walch of Elgin, MN and Danny (Shawn) of Minneapolis, MN; her grandchildren: Kevin Bresnahan, Stefanie Perkins, Jenny Petersen, Travis, Carson, Ryan and Lindsay Walch, Lacey Bresnahan and Lauren Shillcutt; and 15 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Joe, who died in 2002; her daughter, Debbie; three sisters, Alice Warren, Ellen Martin and Martha Stripling; and a brother, Dr. John McCullough. She is the last of her generation.

Special thank you to her great neighbors (Pettingills, Bloxhams and Welchs) that allowed her to remain in her home until recent years. Gratitude to Father Mark, the Good Samaritan Society family and all the visitors that loved and cared for her and she considered best friends.

Condolences may be left at

Rate this article: 
No votes yet