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Madison - Mary Mohs passed away quietly on the morning of May 3, 2022, surrounded by her loving family and caregivers. The cause of death was heart failure.
She was born Mary Sue McKenzie on March 24, 1937, in Sydney, Australia, the only child of Keith Everett McKenzie and Irene Ward McKenzie, of Hollandale, WI. Irene was a concert pianist and Keith was the Oliver Tractor Company’s salesman for the Far East. After Irene passed away in 1940, and with the advent of World War II, Keith and Mary returned to Wisconsin and brought with them Mary’s beloved nurse, Alice Hislop. Keith married his second wife, Rachel Davis, a schoolteacher from Hollandale, WI.
The McKenzie family moved to Madison where Mary attended Dudgeon Grade School and West High School. In 1959 she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin’s School of Music with a major in piano. She was chosen as a Badger Beauty (and appointed U.S. Army Honorary Colonel in 1957) and elected President of the Panhellenic Association. She belonged to Alpha Chi Omega sorority and National Phi Beta Fraternity for the Arts. Throughout college, Mary played piano for the Wisconsin Players and the University Symphony Orchestra.
In 1959, Mary married Fred Mohs, a classmate and fellow school officer at West High. They were married for sixty-three years and made their home on Wisconsin Avenue in Madison, with brief sojourns in Georgia and Michigan. Mary and Fred traveled extensively throughout their long marriage, with many adventures and new friends made.
Mary taught music for several years to elementary school students at Lincoln, Cherokee and Lapham Public Schools. She was also a professional accompanist and worked with private soloists and with the Madison Theater Guild. She often referred to this period as one of the most rewarding and joyful times of her life. She continued to play the piano for family and friends in the decades to come.
Mary was a dedicated supporter of many treasured civic institutions, philanthropies, and arts organizations in Madison, and she participated on many Boards. Notable amongst her lifelong commitments were Wisconsin Public Television, Historic Preservation (including Madison Landmarks Commission), Madison Theater Guild, Madison Civic Center, Madison Overture Center, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison Opera Board, Planned Parenthood, the Dane County Humane Society, and UW Athletics.
In the 1980s, Mary became active in politics and served in several influential positions in the Republican Party, including Second District Chairman for eleven years and Vice-Chairman of the Dane County Republican Party. In 1984, Mary was chosen to be a Delegate at Large at the Republican National Convention in Dallas, TX.
In the 1990s, Mary served and led with distinction on the National Eisenhower Center Board and the National World War II (formerly National D-Day) Museum Board in New Orleans, LA.
For those of us who knew and loved Mary, she was a constant inspiration, original and self-possessed, intelligent, elegant, and a passionate supporter of everyone and everything she held dear.
Mary is survived by her loving family: her husband Frederic Mohs, daughter Polly Mohs-Thomas (Alistair), daughter Nicole Herbst (Arthur), and granddaughters, Marina Herbst and Paula Herbst.
Mary’s wishes for tributes after her death were as follows: “For those who would like to remember Mary, she would ask you to send to someone you love a pretty bouquet of flowers.”
A private family service will be held.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Services
3610 Speedway Road
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