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Mary Jo Welch

Iowa City

Mary Jo Welch, 87, of Iowa City, Iowa, passed away on May 27, 2020, with her children at her side after a long illness.
Mary Jo was born March 18, 1933, at her mother's family farm in rural Harrison Township near Payne, Ohio, the daughter of Charles Clifford Bickham and Lena Evelyn Enz. At the time of her passing, Mary Jo resided in assisted-living near the home of her daughter in Rockford, Ill.
Mary Jo grew up on her parents' nearby farm and attended Payne High School, graduating with the Class of 1951. She then completed a BA degree in home economics with an emphasis in fine arts at Purdue University in 1955. While at Purdue, she became a member of Sigma Kappa sorority and met Richard Francis (Dick) Welch of Fort Wayne, Ind. They married in 1954 and had two children, Cynthia Ann (born 1961) and Daniel Richard (born 1965). After graduating from Purdue, Mary Jo and Dick moved frequently while he served in the Army Reserve and began his career with General Electric.
After living for several years in Syracuse, N.Y., Mary Jo and Dick moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1965. She began employment in social work there in 1974, eventually joining Iowa Department of Social Services.
Mary Jo and Dick divorced in 1976, after which Mary Jo moved to Iowa City. She continued work in the Johnson County office of Iowa DHS until her retirement in 1998.
Mary Jo enjoyed a lifelong curiosity of the world, exploring ceramics, painting, sociology, feminism, reproductive rights, politics, sailing and traveling. During her retirement, she experienced travels to Germany, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and the former Yugoslavia. She prided herself on her independence and problem solving, succeeding on her own in homeownership.
After retiring, Mary Jo enjoyed gardening, spending time with her grandchildren and caring for her cherished Moffitt-style house in Iowa City.
Mary Jo is survived by her sister, Elizabeth Bickham of rural Harrison Township, Ohio; daughter, Cynthia and son-in-law Kevin Luther and their children Morgan and Chase of Rockford, Ill.; son, Daniel Welch and daughter-in-law Mary (Osing) and their son Owen Welch of Portland, Ore. Mary Jo was preceded in death by her parents.
No services are planned at this time. At Mary Jo's request, memorials may be made to the World Wildlife Fund at www.worldwildlife.org. To share a memory or online condolence, visit olsonfh.com.
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