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MADISON—Mary Jo Dresen, age 66, of Madison, passed away on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, surrounded by her loving family after a short and courageous battle with cancer. Jo was born Jan. 1, 1952, in Malden, Mo., and grew up in Sterling, Ill. She attended college in Miami earning her associate degree in fashion design.

In July of 1972, she met the love of her life, Jim Dresen, and was married Oct. 5, 1974, in Sterling. They made their home and expanded their family on the Eastside of Madison. Mary Jo spent her years as a dedicated wife, mother, grandmother and friend, and was an involved teacher in the catechism program at St. Dennis for more than 20 years.

Jo enjoyed family vacations, her annual girls’ trip to Vegas, and traveling to warm destinations with Jim. In the summer, you could find her at the Farmers Market, Concerts on the Square, hunting for bargains at garage sales, and tending to her yard. She took great delight in drives out in the country, entertaining family and friends, and taking her grandchildren for trips to the Henry Vilas Zoo.

Mary Jo was proud of her Irish heritage, filled with faith and spread love, compassion and kindness through her daily actions. She treasured her friendships with so many and was recently quoted, “I have lived the most wonderful life.”

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Mary Jo is survived by husband, Jim of 44 years; and three children, Maggie (Darren) Aftahi of Edina, Minn., Matthew (Kristen) of Mount Horeb, and Emily of Janesville. She was Nana to Cole and Rowan; and Mimi to Emma, Lauren and Kylie, all who brought such joy and happiness to her. She is also survived by her sister, Pat (Mike) Rasmussen; and was preceded in death by her parents, Virginia and Robert “Smiler” O’Rourke; and brother, Mike.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018, at OLBRICH BOTANICAL GARDENS from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in Mary Jo’s name, to the Henry Vilas Zoo or Agrace HospiceCare. We would like to thank the doctors and nurses at UW Hospital and the wonderful caregivers at Agrace for providing comfort and support to Mary Jo and our family.

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