Mary Kathryn Wolfe, 1942

Mary Kathryn Wolfe, 1942

MARY K. WOLFE WELSH (1929–2004)

Mary Kathryn Wolfe was born on November 26, 1929, in Delmar, Iowa, the daughter of Raymond Bernard Wolfe and Gladys McGinn Wolfe. Her siblings were Sara Terese (b. 1926), Margery, and Thomas Anthony (b. 1940). Ray Wolfe was the grandson of Irish immigrants who farmed not quite 200 acres in Clinton County. He died in 1941.

Mary K. Wolfe graduated from the Saint Ambrose College Division of Nursing, in Davenport, Iowa, and then went on to work first at the Veterans Administration in Iowa City and then as a registered nurse at Mercy Hospital in Davenport, Iowa.

Mary Kay, as she was known, loved to play tricks. In an essay, her brother Tom Wolfe remembered many years later a summer's night in 1948, when he, his mother, and his sister Marge returned home from a night out in nearby Maquoketa. The front door of their farmhouse was open, the living room in disarray, and some ghost-like apparition making noise. They ran for help but soon realized what had happened.

As I continued my puzzled approach to our porch, this specter lost its fright, and the mystery began to slowly become clear. It was my big sister Mary Kay, dressed in some weird, witchlike garb, shrieking and laughing at us.  It seems that she, a nursing student in Davenport, had come home to find the house unlocked as usual and wanted to teach our mother a lesson: always lock the door.  She therefore faked the unwanted entry and pored ketchup on the counter to simulate blood.  The fact that she frightened us all half to death did not particularly dampen her joy at having played such a ghoulish joke on us.

Wolfe married John Paul Welsh, of Davenport, on November 26, 1955, at Saint Mary's Catholic Church, in Davenport. The ceremony was conducted by the groom's brother, the Rev. Richard J. Welsh. The couple had four children: Anne, Michael "Mike," Thomas "Tom," and Mary Kathryn.

They lived in west Davenport until Mary K. Welsh's death on December 16, 2004. John Welsh, who had been the Midwest distributor for Swingline, died in 2017. They are interred together at Mount Calvary Cemetery, in Davenport.