Mary Alice Kathryn (Hayes) Garrow was born October 13, 1924, in Waupaca, Wisconsin. She was the daughter of Irish-American parents, Thomas Edward Hayes and Severian Frances (Quigley) Hayes, and sister of Margaret and Francis, all who predeceased her.
Always an advocate of education and life-long learning, Mary earned a teaching degree from the Oshkosh State Teacher’s College and taught elementary level students in a one-room schoolhouse. As was the common arrangement for many teachers of that era, she lived as a border with a local family and was responsible for all aspects of running a school house, from keeping the woodstove burning during the school day to taking her rural students on their first train ride to Milwaukee for museum field trips, and for some, their first meal in a restaurant. In later years, she often served as a substitute teacher at her parish’s school, St. Mary Elementary (now Holy Family) in Brillion, Wisconsin. All of her children and grandchildren attended college, many earning advanced degrees.
Mary was an active member of the Christian Mothers, and was a Girl Scout and Boy Scout leader. She married Simon Alexander Garrow on February 26, 1949 in Royalton. As a young married couple, with a growing brood of their own, she and Simon started Garrow Poultry in Brillion, Wisconsin, to sell day-old chicks to farmers across the state and to raise and sell pullets and fresh eggs to the local market. Not one to shy away from new challenges, Mary joined her husband as a licensed real estate agent and appraiser for Garrow Realtors. Together they shepherded the development of numerous housing projects in Brillion including residential units and housing for seniors (Parkview Homes, Heritage Apartments, and Garrow Villa). She was the executive director of the Brillion Housing Authority from 1992 through 2004, a position held by her late husband, Simon, from 1969 to his death in 1992. She received national recognition for her model work as a public housing manager.
Mary held a special place in her heart for individuals with intellectual and physical challenges and she worked with others to start St. Mary’s Christophers Program, which continues on today.
She welcomed many of her children's friends and foreign exchange students to her home. There was always room for another at her table, where she served dishes that became family favorites. She had artistic talents and enjoyed sewing, quilting, making gift cards, and crafts, and enjoyed and embraced computers for work and personal use.
She retired at age 80 and spent her retirement years near family in Washington State and, more recently, in Los Alamitos, California, where she passed away on February 7. The family extends deep appreciation to the loving and dedicated staff of both Pearl Garden Memory Care at Katella Senior Living Community and Companion Health.
Son Mark Garrow of Brillion, Wisconsin; son Thomas and daughter-in-law Elizabeth of Carlsbad, California; daughter Mary Kay Garrow and son-in-law Pablo Iannone of Killingworth, Connecticut; daughter Janet Garrow of Whidbey Island, Washington; daughter Patricia Garrow, and sons John and Joseph Garrow of Long Beach, California; daughter Joan Garrow and son-in-law Kevin Malone of Port Orchard, Washington; son Kevin and daughter-in-law Barbara Garrow, and son Daniel Garrow of Evergreen, Colorado; daughter Kathleen (Garrow) Ciccarillo and son-in-law Dennis Ciccarillo of Canton, Connecticut, survive her.
Her husband of 44 years, Simon Garrow and infant daughter Susan precede her in death.
She was a proud and loving grandmother to 13 grandchildren: Jennifer, Erin, Alejandra, Catalina, Kathryn, Caroline, Belinda, Simon, Ema, Andrew, Julia, Grace, Samuel, and one great granddaughter, Eva.
A memorial service and celebration of Mary’s life will be held at a later date.
Memorial donations can be made to the Mary A. Garrow Scholarship for Teaching Fund, administered by the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Inc., 4455 West Lawrence Street, Appleton, Wisconsin, 54914 https://www.cffoxvalley.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GARR-Profile-2016-NEW.pdf
Online condolences may be made at www.wieting-funeralhome.com
The Wieting Funeral Homes of Brillion & Reedsville are assisting the family.