Mary Ann Kitzke was an extraordinary woman who lived her life to love others. No matter where she was, it was impossible not to see the beauty that emanated from her every fiber as an outpouring of the Catholic faith that was such a cornerstone throughout her life. Mary Ann touched the hearts and lives of not only the family she adored, but also so many within her parish, as well as within her community through the business she and her husband owned. Mary Ann was dedicated to caring for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who have now become her greatest legacy.
Mary Ann came into the world in the midst of the Roaring Twenties, on March 4, 1928, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Maximillian and Catherine (Tomaszewski) Moderski. She grew up in a Polish flat on the southside of Milwaukee around 24th and Mitchell Streets with her five siblings, Bernie, John, Richard, Virginia and Joseph. While her mother had her hands full as a homemaker, her father earned a living working at International Harvester. Mary Ann’s mother was deeply devout in her Catholic faith and attended Mass every day at St. Vincent dePaul Parish. She also made sure her children received the sacraments, and this strong Catholic upbringing would always be an important part of Mary Ann’s life.
Mary Ann continued her religious training by attending St. Vincent dePaul Grade School and St. Stanislaus High School, where she graduated in 1946. Her nickname in her high school yearbook was “Mod” because she was always such a classy dresser and popular among her peers. A fun-loving girl, she loved attending all the school dances and football games, and that is where Mary Ann first met football player, Leo R. Kitzke. It definitely wasn’t love at first sight for Mary Ann, but it wasn’t long before Leo won her heart, and their love story had begun.
The day after Mary Ann graduated high school, she began working at International Harvester. She and Leo were happily married September 9, 1950 at St. Vincent dePaul Parish, and soon filled their hearts and home with the joy of four beautiful children, Barbara, Thomas, Susan and Timothy. Mary Ann stayed home when the children arrived and devoted herself to the role of a wife and mother. She was active in the lives of her children and created a home that was a place where love was plentiful. She instilled her Catholic values in her children, making sure they attended church and lived by the rule “be good to others.” Mary Ann would remind her children she was their mother first, not their friend. She was generous and forgiving, yet strict. Some of her greatest lessons were taught through her infamous sayings – like “sweep off your own doorstep” when the kids were being judgmental of others, or when asked what she wanted as a present, she’d say “only your love”, or “put something on your feet” when they were barefoot.
Family was the cornerstone of Mary Ann and Leo’s life together, and they worked hard to provide for their children, while sharing much love and laughter. After Leo opened a tavern, Leo’s On Fifth, in South Milwaukee, Mary Ann worked there during the day while Leo continued his job at Allen Bradley Co. They made the bar into a family-friendly place, including a big room for family gatherings and parties for the bowling and pool teams. Leo and Mary Ann were a lot of fun, and made many great friends they met over the years. After her youngest son Timothy was in high school, Mary Ann took a job at Kohl’s Department Store, where her hard work helped her work her way up to head cashier before retiring.
Throughout her life, Mary Ann considered her family to be her greatest gift and blessing. Considered the “matriarch” of her family, Mary Ann loved when all the family came together, and she could catch up with everyone. Over the years, she stayed close with her own family and Leo’s as well. Every Christmas, Mary Ann baked and cooked for days making a delicious feast for her loved ones, and many unforgettable memories were made at Sunday cookouts, and yearly family vacations to the cottage at Wind Lake, memories that were treasures of Mary Ann’s heart. The last big event of her life was her granddaughter’s wedding, which was the weekend before she died.
Aside from her family, Mary Ann was devout in her faith, and was an integral part of her parish, Divine Mercy. She faithfully served as an Eucharistic minister, taking communion to those in nursing homes, and sang in the funeral choir and helped in any way she could in the sacristy. Mary Ann also had a deep devotion to the Mother of Perpetual Help and went every Tuesday night for service.
Mary Ann was the rock of her family, the woman everyone looked to for inspiration, love and support. She was there for anyone at anytime, not because she had to be, but because she wanted to share fully in the lives of the people she loved. No one could leave Mary Ann’s home without her subtly placing $20 in their hand with all her love. When asked if she had favorites, Mary Ann would say, “They are all my favorites” and she truly loved each one equally and unconditionally. After losing her beloved husband Leo, Mary Ann wanted to remain independent and live in her own home. With the help of her children, she was able to do this and slept the last night of her life in her own bed, at home.
Mary Ann Kitzke (nee Moderski) entered into Eternal Life on Tuesday, July 30, 2013, at the age of 85. Loving wife of the late Leo R. Kitzke. Proud mother of Barbara (Jim) Hadfield, Thomas (Barbara) Kitzke, Susan (Jim) Decker and Very Reverend Timothy Kitzke. Loving grandmother of Kathie (Brian), Chris (Amynda), Nick (Melissa), Jeremy (Alexia), Brian, Jim, Matt, Kelly (Scott), Katie, Jake, Jamie (Spencer) and Genna. Dear great-grandmother of Megan, Patrick, Molly, Daniel, Timothy, and “one on the way”, Caleb, Evan, Brady, Maddie, Amelia, Lucy, Michael and Matthew. Fond sister-in-law of Audrey Moderski. Mary Ann will be remembered by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many good and dear friends.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 7, at Divine Mercy – Marquette Ave. (800 Marquette Avenue South Milwaukee), with her son Fr. Tim presiding. Visitation is at the Church on Wednesday, from 3:00 p.m. until the time of Mass. Private entombment at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Divine Mercy Parish are appreciated.