Catholic 08

Mary Kathryn (Curtin) Chalos

February 9, 1934 ~ October 13, 2020 (age 86)


Was reunited in Heaven with her loving husband William on October 13, 2020 at the age of 86. Loving mother of Mary Therese (Jeffery) Pizzino and Elizabeth (Kevin) Carroll. Mary will be greatly missed by her grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends.

A Visitation will be held on Friday October 23, 2020 at the funeral home from 5 PM until 7 PM with a Vigil Service and Eulogy at 7 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday October 24, 2020 at St. Jude the Apostle Parish, 734 Glenview Ave, Wauwatosa, WI 53213, at 10 AM. Mary Kathryn will be laid to rest at St. Mary’s Visitation Cemetery in Elm Grove. Face masks and social distancing are required. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Messmer High School or Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin would be greatly appreciated.

Please click here to view Mary's Vigil Service at 7 PM on October 23, 2020

Below you will find a synopsis of Mary's life that she wrote in 2015:

I was born February 9, 1934, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  My parents are William Joseph Curtin and Marie Naughton Curtin.  My father was born in Sagbridge, Illinois; my mother in Campbellsport, Wisconsin.  My brother, William Joseph III, was born on August 24, 1931.  All are deceased.

When my father was young, he went to Hollywood and worked as an extra in movies.  Later, he and his brother, Emmet, homesteaded land in Saskatchewan.   Quite an interesting man he was.

I attempted to walk when I was about one year old. My mother was concerned because I did not find this easy.  I was diagnosed with bilateral congenitally dislocated hips and was treated by Dr. Walter Blount.  I was in a body cast for more than a year and was not allowed to walk until I was about 3 years old.  My mother carried me and cared for me.   Every time I think about this, it gives me more admiration and love for her.   Each day of my life I have said a prayer of gratitude for the ability to walk.  Something, taken for granted by most people, was not a given for me.

As a result of this birth defect, I had hip pain most of my life.  When I was 23 years old, Dr. Hugh Hickey performed a subtrocantic osteotomy on my left hip giving me about 20 years of relief.  In 1978, he performed a total hip replacement on the same hip.  I received relief for about 15 years.  Hickey retired and, in 1993, Dr. Robert Zuege performed a “redo” total hip replacement.  I suffered from osteoarthritis for most of my adult life.

My family originally lived on Cramer Street and I was baptized at Holy Rosary Church.  My godparents were Emmet Curtin, my father’s brother, and Viletta Murphy, my mother’s cousin.  We moved from the east side of Milwaukee when I was about 4 years old.  We lived at 3564 N. 14th Street and I attended Holy Angels Grade School. i

My maternal grandmother, Kathryn Murray Naughton, we called her Ammie, moved to Milwaukee.  My parents were married and Ammie lived with them in Milwaukee. 

Ammie became a second mother to my brother and me.  She taught me the art of pie baking, knitting, card games and many, many other things.  She was a great cook and we always had homemade pies and cookies.  What a blessing to have her in my life!

After 8th grade graduation in 1947, I attended 9th grade at St. Robert’s School and then I attended Messmer High School.   Messmer did not have room for a freshman class.  These were some of the happiest times of my life.  I loved school, especially science and math, and I became one of the editors of The Foursquare, Messmer’s newspaper.

I had a hard time deciding whether to study science or journalism in college.   I decided on medical technology at Marquette University.  Because funds were limited, I lived at home and I never had the opportunity to participate in campus life.  I worked part time in the curtain department of Gimbel’s department store (“Curtain department, Miss Curtin speaking,” was the way I answered the telephone).   I also worked in the bookkeeping department of the First Wisconsin National Bank and earned enough to pay my college tuition.

My grandmother, Ammie, died in November, 1952, and my father died in March, 1953 (carcinoma of the lung).  I was only 19 years of age, a sophomore.   As I look back, I realize that I missed learning many things that my father would have taught me.  Although he had only a 6th grade education he was very intelligent.  He was proud to be the father of a college student.

My brother and Adrienne O’KIonek were married in July, 1953.   My mother then sold our house and the two of us moved to 4130 North 40th St.  She and I truly were best friends.  She worked at the Wisconsin State Employment Service until she retired. 

The following interjection is amusing:  My mother’s office was located in the Plankinton Building (now Grand Avenue) in Milwaukee.  While employed there she often spoke about the “nice looking man” whom she frequently saw in the elevator.  She remarked that he had beautiful, black wavy hair, was always dressed in a dark suit, and “had no dandruff.”   I include this because this man eventually became her son-in-law.  What a surprise that was for her when she met him at the door as he picked me up for our first date.  “O my gosh, the man in the elevator!”

Back to my life:  I put myself through Marquette University where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technology in 1955.   My senior year was spent interning at St. Mary’s Hospital, Milwaukee.  After graduation, I was employed as a medical technologist in the hematology/blood bank department at Milwaukee County General Hospital, forerunner of Froedtert Hospital.  After working there for several years, I was promoted to supervisor of the blood bank.  I dearly loved blood banking and became quite well versed in this science. 

In 1968, I was offered the position of Director of Laboratory Services at the Milwaukee Blood Center, now known as The Blood Center of Wisconsin.  I earned the Blood Bank Specialist certificate, became active in the American Association of Blood Banks and participated in many of its seminars and workshops in various cities of the United States.   I chaired the AABB’s technical seminar at the 1972 national convention held in Washington D.C.   

Regressing:  While I was working at County Hospital I met a Marquette University 4th year medical student, William Peter Chalos.   He was born in Gary, Indiana, studied at Campion High School in Prairie du Chien, and Marquette University.  He graduated from its medical school in 1956 and interned at Columbia Hospital, Milwaukee.  He took an orthopedic residency at Northwestern University.  This included one year at Primary Children’s Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah.   He returned to Milwaukee to practice orthopedics.  (His office was located on the second floor of the Plankinton Arcade).  It was about this time that I “remet” him at a party and we became best friends.  Refer back to the paragraph about the man with the black, wavy hair.  Yes, he was the man in the elevator.

Bill and I married May 31, 1969, at Holy Redeemer Church in Milwaukee.  Father Donald Reiff officiated.   The reception was held at Tuckaway Country Club.  We bought a home in Elm Grove, 13270 Gremoor Dr., and lived there for the rest of our married life.   St. Mary’s Visitation Parish was the center of our lives and we enjoyed life in Elm Grove.

We adopted two daughters, Mary Therese, born September 8, 1972, and Elizabeth Kathryn, born September 30, 1975.  They attended St. Mary’s School and Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.  Both are married and live in Wisconsin. 

We bought a summer home on Island Lake in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, in 1978, and enjoyed many wonderful days there.  Bill was an avid Musky fisherman.  Many times my mother came up there with us to enjoy the beautiful northern Wisconsin summers and autumns.  Mother died March 12, 1979.

Bill worked as a solo practicing orthopedist and was active at St. Francis, St. Luke’s, and Trinity Memorial Hospitals.  He retired in 1994.  This gave him time for golf and fishing but it was not as satisfying for him as his chosen profession. 

We were great fans of Marquette basketball and held season tickets to the games for quite a few years.  We also enjoyed season tickets for the Milwaukee and Chicago Symphonies.  Bill loved music and belonged to St. Mary’s choir.

Music also played an important part in my life.  I took piano lessons while I was in school but when I had a job, I lost interest .  However, I used to say that when I quit working I would take piano lessons again.   Bill surprised me with a piano on Christmas Eve, 1970, and I revived my interest.  When Mary Therese was taking piano lessons I used her lesson materials to help me re-learn what I had forgotten.  Elizabeth wanted to play the violin and I learned to accompany her.   I also accompanied many other young violinists who studied with Sister Noraleen, SSND, at Mount Mary College.  She encouraged me to pursue the hobby of accompanying.   Piano playing became my avocation.

I eventually started playing the piano for Masses at St. Mary’s church.  In the fall of 1998, Sister Mary Jane Wagner, SSSF, Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Mary’s, offered to teach me to play the pipe organ.  I was thrilled as I had always had a desire to play this marvelous instrument.  I practiced about 4 hours a day for more than 10 years while studying with SMJ.  This experience challenged me.  I provided music for Masses at St. Mary’s for more than 17 years and I consider this my legacy to those who worshiped with me at the daily Masses.  Sister Mary Jane taught me so many things, many were not related to music.  She taught me about my faith and what Catholic worship demanded.  She taught me to strive to live a Christian life.  Forgiveness, understanding, and the ability to avoid being judgmental are on the list of her “curriculum.”  I reiterate that organ playing added s great deal to my life.

Bill died very suddenly, October 29, 2005, after we had a nice dinner at a local restaurant.  This precipitated great changes in my life and the lives of my daughters and their children.  As we completed our dinner that evening, a man came to our table and looked at me, pointed to Bill and said, “That man is one fine doctor.”  Bill had had been his doctor.  As we left the restaurant, Bill collapsed and died.  I do not know the name of this man but he certainly left us with a feeling of a life well lived.  What a way to end it!  That incident pretty much says it all.   

Bill is buried at St. Mary’s Visitation Cemetery in Elm Grove.  The cause of his death was ventricular fibrillation.

I sold the house on Gremoor Drive in 2007, and rented an apartment in Brookfield for one year.  I bought a condo in The Watermark, Elm Grove, across the street from my church.   I have lived there ever since and I rate this move to be one of my smartest.  Living at the Watermark has been a great experience.  Wonderful neighbors and proximity to my friends made it a very smart decision.   

Reflecting on my life:   I must say that I was very, very blessed.  God brought many wonderful people into my life, people who reinforced my faith and my appreciation for the simple things in life.  I had a wonderful husband, great parents, children, grandchildren, teachers, classmates, priests, mentors, doctors, friends, and neighbors who supported me.  What more could one ask?

What brought joy into my life?  My family heads the list.   I watched out daughters mature and become beautiful women.   Mary Therese is an outstanding mother of four wonderful children. Her patience and tolerance are strong and her dedication to her family is without equal. I was very proud the day that she graduated as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Elizabeth, likewise, is a marvelous mother of two children.  She earned a degree in accounting from the University of Dayton and holds a fine job with enormous responsibilities. My daughters and their husbands join in my love for my grandchildren, Magdeline Rae, Nicholas William. Andrew  Edward,  AnnaMarie  Emma, Kathryn Rose, and Matthew Patrick. What beautiful names!   I am very proud of them and will continue to watch over them as they mature. 

As for myself, I have always enjoyed simple things.  I loved to play the piano and organ, and to solve crossword puzzles.   I always received satisfaction from sewing, quilting, and other crafts.   Additionally, I took pride in sewing many of the accruements for our church, antependia, altar cloths, and such.  How satisfying it was to come to Mass on Christmas, 2004, and see my handiwork.  Also, our American Saddlebred horses (we owned a total of 5, not all at one time) and all that was involved with their shows and Elizabeth’s ability to ride them were great additions to our lives.   Through our involvement with the horses we met people from all parts of the US.  The experience was fulfilling. 

However, one of my most satisfying experiences in all my life was sitting at St. Mary’s organ before the Blessed Sacrament and playing Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.  What a thrill!!!!  Albert Schweitzer expressed his opinion and it certainly reflects my own:  “If you are called upon to play at a church service, it is a greater honor than if you were to play a concert on the finest organ in the world…Thank God each time when you are privileged to sit before the organ console and assist in the worship of the Almighty.”

Of course, I am most proud of Bill, his care for me and our family and patients, his total commitment to his faith, and his dedication to his profession.  He truly was  “St. Joseph” in the modern world, always the firm foundation of our family, always willing to do everything necessary to care for us.  We traveled and enjoyed our life in Elm Grove.  He was a good provider and kept our freezer stocked with Walleyes, Muskys, and various types of pan fish.  Of course, he was always aware of the necessity of preserving our wildlife so he kept only a few of his catch for us to eat.  Oh yes, he cleaned those fish and, by the way, was an expert at carving the Thanksgiving turkey.

As I reflect on my life,  I am most grateful for the faith God gave me, my parents who nurtured it, good health and ability to walk that my doctors gave me, and my teachers  for the influence they had on my life.   How blest I have been!  I pray that I will leave this world a little better than I received it and hope that my example of perseverance will influence others, especially my grandchildren, to hold to their faith.  The Psalm I have chosen for my funeral Mass, Psalm 116, expresses my feelings today:  “What return can I make to the Lord for all His goodness to me?”


Mary Kathryn Chalos, 2015

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October 23, 2020

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Becker Ritter Funeral Home
14075 W. North Ave
Brookfield, WI 53005

Vigil Service
October 23, 2020

7:00 PM
Becker Ritter Funeral Home
14075 W. North Ave
Brookfield, WI 53005

Mass of Christian Burial
October 24, 2020

10:00 AM
St. Jude the Apostle Parish (Glenview Ave, Wauwatosa)

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