Mary E. Islei

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September 13, 1938 - August 2, 2023

Mary E. Iseli, 84, of rural Waukon, IA, died Wednesday, August 2, 2023, in her home surrounded by her family. Funeral services will be held Saturday, August 5th, at 11 a.m. at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Lansing, IA, with Pastor Diane Koschmeder officiating. Burial will be at Lansing Ridge Cemetery, rural Waukon. Friends may greet the family from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Friday at Thornburg - Grau Funeral Home in Lansing.

Mary Elizabeth (Gaulthier) Iseli was born September 13, 1938, in Wisconsin, the daughter of Arthur Gabriel and Jennie Marie (Jeffers) Gaulthier. Her father was a commercial fisherman and her mother worked at the Lansing button factory. Mary grew up in Lansing, IA, was baptized and confirmed at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and attended the Old Stone School, Kee High, Lansing.

On May 31, 1969, she married John Jacob Iseli at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Lansing. Besides raising four children, Mary worked the farm, often alone, milking cows, taking care of the pigs, growing and canning a large garden, and doing other chores. While working, Mary was often accompanied by her entourage of animals: Julie the sheep, Adam the goose, Wilbur the pig, chickens, cats, and her dogs Lady and Tucker. Later, she worked off the farm at KolGol in Waukon.

She loved her family and could be seen carting around a grandchild in a wagon or on a tractor. Christmas was her favorite holiday and she loved gift shopping. Mary spent many hours writing and sending (though not necessarily in a timely manner) cards and letters for every occasion. She had several pen pals she found through magazines. If she wasn’t cooking, John and Mary would visit family for supper, which was usually followed by hours of playing games and cards. Upon leaving, it was a requirement for her to get her goodbye kiss and hug and say “I love you, dear.”

Mary collected lighthouses, angels, butterflies and other animal figures, and “just a few” cookbooks. She enjoyed watching Gunsmoke and Walker, Texas Ranger; going out for Chinese food; to the Old Rossville Store for scallops; or Wings for Friday fish. Mary and her daughters made several trips to the La Crosse Center to attend the Elvis Explosion as she was a devoted fan.

She is survived by her husband John of rural Waukon; four children: Kathi (Robert) Hanson and Deb (Gene) Bay, both of Lansing, and Arthur (Lori) Iseli and Fred (Jessica) Iseli, both of Waukon; seven grandchildren: Jennifer Neumann, Krystal Loge, Dalton Hutchings, and Mitch, Danny, Cole, and Cooper Iseli; great-grandchildren: Kenra, Harper, Haley, and Colton Tewes, Mason and Paisley Neumann, Paisley and Haddie Iseli; her sister Helen Fernette of Prairie du Chien, WI; brother-in-law Robert Iseli of Waukon; and several nieces and nephews.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents; brother Don Gaulthier; sister-in-law Judy Iseli; two brothers-in-law: Francis Fernette and David Iseli; and father and mother-in-law Fred and Gladys Iseli.

Honorary casketbearers are Cooper Iseli, Jennifer Neumann, Krystal Loge, and Dalton and Jerry Hutchings. Casketbearers are Gary, Justin, Mitch, Danny, and Cole Iseli, Scott Loge, and Leonard Waters.

Online condolences may be left at

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