Mary Lou Uhlenhake, Ossian, Iowa, January 7, 2024

Mary Lou (Schmitz) Uhlenhake, 89, of Ossian, Iowa, died Sunday, January 7, 2024, at the Ossian Senior Hospice in Ossian.

Mary Louise Schmitz was born February 12, 1934, in Postville, Iowa, the daughter of Philip Allen and Marguerite Louise (Lansing) Schmitz.  Mary Lou’s mother died when she was two months old, and she was raised by her Grandma Mabel (Allen) and Grandpa Frank Schmitz until she was eleven years old.  She then moved to town to live with Philip and Florence Schmitz and her siblings: Kenny, Karl and Karen.  Mary Lou received her education at de Sales Catholic School in Ossian, graduating with the class of 1952. While in high school she excelled with the saxophone in music and was an outstanding guard in basketball.   Ivan Uhlenhake caught Mary Lou’s attention, with a whistle and a twinkle in his eye, the first time she wore a poodle skirt to school.  She continued her education at Mt.  Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, for a period of time, until she was called home to care for her Grandma Mabel.  Mary Lou then worked at the Northwestern Bell Telephone Office in Decorah.  Mary Lou was united in marriage to Ivan William Uhlenhake on September 1, 1954, at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church by the late Rev. E.J. Frost.  They moved to the Uhlenhake family farm, three miles southeast of Ossian, in March of 1956, where they raised their family of seven children, whom she was always very proud of.  Mary Lou was a hardworking farm wife, who was always busy cooking, sewing, doing chores, mowing lawn, and planting a huge garden to feed her growing family.  She was well known for her homemade apple pie and banana bread.   Anyone who stopped at her home never left unfed, her gift of love.  Mary Lou enjoyed listening to music, dancing, traveling with Ivan and their children, playing bingo, playing cards in the Crazy Eight Card Club, reminiscing, embroidery, cross stitch, sending comical greeting cards to family and friends and using the Grandpad to communicate, to play games and to view family photos.

Mary Lou was a lifelong member of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church and was past president of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court #983.  She was past president of the Rosary Society and oversaw the creation of the DeSales Cookbook.  Mary Lou was a member of The ARC (People of Intellectual and Developmental Challenges) and had volunteered with Special Olympics.  She was past president of the Winneshiek County Porkettes and was a member of the Ossian Crown Club.  Mary Lou also quilted at the Ossian Senior Hospice, making quilts that were donated to the missions, families in need and the veterans.  Mary Lou poured her heart into any project she was involved with.  She was so proud of her Schmitz heritage, her hometown of Ossian and was a strong advocate for supporting the local businesses.  Her passion, generosity, and spirit to support her church and local community will be missed.

Mary Lou is survived by her 7 Children:  Kurt (JoAnn) Uhlenhake of Ossian, Karla Uhlenhake of Racine, Wisconsin, Layne Uhlenhake of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, Laurie (Tim) Thompson of Calmar, Jay (Margaret) Uhlenhake of Lawler, Jeff Uhlenhake of Ossian & Aric Uhlenhake of Decorah;  9 Grandchildren:  Jennifer (Nick) Briscoe, Justin Lyon, Jessica (August) Ley, Stacey (Ryan) Christian, Kelli (Reece) Miller, Blake (Niki) Uhlenhake, Danielle (Marty) Kuhlmann, Jared Uhlenhake & Kisara Thompson;  15 Great Grandchildren:  2 Sisters-In-Law: Jane Schmitz & Sharon Schmitz;  Many Nieces & Nephews & Cousins.

Mary Lou was preceded in death by her beloved husband: Ivan on January 1, 1999; mother: Marguerite; father: Philip (Florence) Schmitz; 2 brothers: Kenneth Schmitz & Karl Schmitz, Sr.; sister: Karen (Jack) Hemesath; sister-in-law: Esther Stewart (Raphael Moeller and Glen Stewart).

Mass of Christian Burial:  11:00 A.M. Friday, January 12, 2024, at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, Ossian, Iowa, with Rev. Henry P. Huber officiating.

Visitation:  3:00 to 7:00 P.M. Thursday and from 9:30 to 10:30 A.M. Friday at the Schmitz-Grau Funeral Home in Ossian.

C.D.A. Rosary at 3:00 P.M. and a Parish Scripture Service at 7:00 P.M. both on Thursday at the funeral home.

Interment: St. Francis de Sales Catholic Cemetery, Ossian, Iowa.

Online obituary at

Paul Schmitz, nephew, with the Jamison-Schmitz Funeral Home in Oelwein is assisting the family.


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