Mary Ann Roach, 78, longtime resident of the Wauzeka area passed away Dec. 25, at her home surrounded by her family after a courageous battle with cancer.
Mary was born Sept. 30, 1935, the youngest of four children to Leo and Ruby (Rosemier) Gerlach. Her parents held a farm on Wall Ridge in Eastman for many years.
She enjoyed working with animals and planting and harvesting the crops.
Mary met and married a local neighbor man whose name was Louis Roach. For a brief time they farmed land held by the Roach family when they were given an opportunity to rent a farm held by the Louie Tornowski family of Patch Grove in Grant County. There they began their family. Mary farmed with her husband, but also found time to begin her love of sports, especially softball, which she played on a local ladies team for a time.
Mary and Louis then bought their own farm—the former Leo Price farm on Shanghai Ridge, Wauzeka. There they farmed and raised nine children. She also worked off the farm at Advance Transformer in Boscobel, and the Opportunity Center in Prairie du Chien. During this time she taught her children her love of sports, and would try to get to all of her children’s sporting events—football, basketball, softball and volleyball. After she retired from Advance Transformer, Mary loved to play softball during the summer months.
She was the pitcher and would assist in the coaching of her daughters, who also played softball with many other local girls. They played for teams known as the “Cheesy Pizza Factory” of Prairie du Chien and “The Bridge Street Bar” of Steuben, where she was known affectionately as “Ma Roach.” Her love of sports has also been passed on to her grandchildren, and they have excelled in football, basketball, softball, volleyball, wrestling and track. Mary also found great strength and solace in her faith. This helped sustain her during many trials in her life. She was a lifelong member of the St. Wenceslaus Parish of Eastman. She would sing in the choir and was in charge of the “Mash Potato Gang” during the parish’s homecoming picnic held on Labor Day weekend. “The Gang” would receive many compliments on how delicious the mashed potatoes were.
Mary also loved to play cards and her favorite card game was “soo” where she was the “scorekeeper” and she would usually win the card games. Her favorite quote was “Got to let the kids win the first game or they won’t want to play any more.” This was a quote that her mother had told her when she was a young child. She loved to read and watch football and basketball on TV, and sometimes watching two channels at the same time.
She was predeceased by her parents; an infant son; her husband Louis; two brothers, Earl and Robert; two brothers-in-law, Clem Mezera and Loren Roach and a son-in-law; Vincent Tippery.
She is survived by her sister, Catherine Mezera; sisters-in-law Ann Gerlach and Elaine Roach; her children Theresa Tippery (Jerry Weiss) of Wauzeka, Bernette (Paul) Bartels of Eastman, David (Mary) Roach of West Union, Iowa, Greg (Jean) Roach of Elgin, Iowa, Julia (Kevin) Michel of Onalaska, Dan (Hidie) Roach of Postville, Iowa, Rachel (Robert) Ashe of Fredricksburg Va., Mike Roach of Eastman, Jim Roach of Wauzeka; sixteen grandchildren; one great grandchild; many nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews. She will be greatly missed by her family and the many friends and neighbors the she has come to know and love throughout the years.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be Monday, Dec. 30, at 1 p.m. at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Eastman, Rev. Victor Feltes officiating with burial in the church cemetery. Friends may call on Sunday, Dec. 29, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Garrity Funeral Home in Prairie du Chien where there will be a parish rosary at 7 p.m.