Mary Jo Pfieffer


Mary Jo Pfieffer of Owatonna died Saturday, March 11, 2023, surrounded by her loving family. Mary Jo was born August 10, 1947, at the Owatonna City Hospital to Leonard and Mary (Goehring) Henslin. She was baptized by her grandfather, the Rev. Joseph Goehring and confirmed at the age of 14.

She attended grade school in Claremont and Dodge Center, and as a child enjoyed ice skating and spent many hours with friends on the ice rink behind their home in Dodge Center. Her family moved to Claremont when she was a sophomore and graduated in 1965 from Claremont High School. It was during that time that she met David Pfieffer who became the love of her life. During her high school years, she was active in many school activities including the school newspaper, chorus, and band where she was the drum majorette and was honored as the class Homecoming Queen. Upon graduation, she went to work for the Security State Bank of Claremont.

On June 18, 1966, she and David were married at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church of Claremont by Fr. William Brandell and Rev. Daniel Reed. Early in their marriage they lived in Claremont and Blooming Prairie. They were blessed with two sons Shawn and Jason, and in 1970 the young family made their home in Owatonna and became members of the Associated Church.

Mary Jo was a stay-at-home mom who loved raising her sons. She was active in their sport and school activities, enjoying being a room mother and teaching Sunday School. As the boys grew older, she worked part-time at Fairlane’s Bowling, running the nursery for children so that the parents could bowl. Her love of children was admired by many, as she was able to dry the tears and turn them into smiles. Mary Jo also worked at Owatonna Mutual Insurance.

The greatest joy in her life were her grandchildren; Ethan, Blake, Griffin, Gabrielle, and Sam. She was so proud of each of them and became a hockey, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, swimming, gymnastics, and dance grandma. She took pride in the fact that they loved coming to Grandma’s house to bake cookies, dye Easter eggs and she took them on adventures at Oxbow Park and numerous shopping trips to the Mall of America. As they grew older, they enjoyed their annual family vacations at Arrowwood Resort and Grandview Lodge. Mary Jo loved to entertain for special events and the holidays and had a passion for decorating and shopping for Christmas.

Mary Jo was an active member of the Associated Church and volunteered her time with the Women’s Ministry and the church’s newsletter. She especially enjoyed decorating the large flower urns that would greet worshipers. She enjoyed aerobics classes, cross-country skiing, and the several walks that she took throughout the day. As a member of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum her love of nature and flowers was evident in her gardens and urns at home. She and David enjoyed exploring and experiencing the grounds at the arboretum and it served as a place of solace. She enjoyed traveling coast to coast, but her favorite vacation spot was Door County Wisconsin where the White Gull Inn became their home away from home.

Mary Jo was preceded in death by her parents and two brothers-in-law, Robert Vavrichek and Willis Pfieffer. She is survived by her husband David; son Shawn (Julie) Pfieffer and grandchildren Ethan (Elisabeth), Blake and Samuel; son Jason and grandchildren Griffin and Gabrielle and their mother Julie; siblings Nancee Vavrichek, Lennis (Gerald) Fleming, Fred (Sherry) Henslin; brother-in-law Richard (Shirley) Pfieffer; sister-in-law Barbara Pfieffer and many nieces and nephews.

The family would especially like to thank Dr. Yadav and Jenna Hoppenworth APRN and the amazing teams at the Rochester Mayo Cancer Care Unit.

Celebration of Life is set for 11:30 AM Friday March 24, 2023, at the Associated Church, Owatonna. Friends may greet the family one and a half hours prior to the service starting at 10:00 AM.

Memorials are preferred to the Associated Church, American Cancer Society, and the Owatonna Alina Hospice.