Maureen Therese Cafaro (nee Plotz), of Elm Grove, WI, entered into eternal life on September 26, 2021. Loving wife to Dr. Anthony Francis (Tony) for 64 years and fiercely devoted mother of Tony Jr. (Shanon Lacy), Terry (Christine Jackson), Kim (John) Schlifske, Rollie (Beth), and Mia (Gordon) Giampietro. She was also the proud grandmother of Isabella, Nicholas, Andrew, and Joseph (Cafaro); Dan, Mark, John Jr., Mikey, Maureen, and MaryGrace (Schlifske); Alex, Tony, John Paul, Felicity, and Leo (Giampietro). Preceded in death by her parents Rollie and Terry Plotz.
The light that was Maureen was lit in St. Francis, WI, on March 25, 1935. She was the much prized, only child of successful tavern owners, and as such was never allowed to work in any of them. She attended Sacred Heart and Saint Agnes grade schools while also learning to dance and sing after school, but it was her perfectly pitched, full voice that really caught people's attentions. At age 14 she won a talent contest whose prize was a professional recording with the famous quartet, The Mills Bothers. Lawrence Welk happened to be in the wings of another talent show Maureen participated in (The Ted Mack Amateur Hour), and told her that when she turned 16 he would have a place for her on his show, but it seems she had other plans for herself.
While attending Holy Angels Academy, Maureen traveled on weekends to study opera at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, eventually earning a scholarship to The Julliard School in NY, an honor she passed on due to overprotective parents. Still, Maureen continued to perform in light opera and concerts on regional stages, always bringing her father to tears if he was in the audience.
Maureen briefly attended Duschene College in Omaha, Nebraska, where she had the good fortune to meet a young Creighton medical student from Spokane, Washington, named Tony Cafaro, but even his presence couldn't stop her from transferring back to Mount Mary College, through graduation. After working as a Medical Technologist (plot twist!) she and Tony married in 1957 and together embarked on the project of building a family.
Allegedly an avid skier, Maureen would have been the first to tell you she much preferred the après-ski rituals of wine by a fireplace to the hard work of sliding down the mountain. And who's kidding whom, she really was more of a slider than a skier. A natural artist, and undeterred by the demands of five children, Maureen applied her amazing free-hand designs to ceramics and textiles, items still valued by family, friends, and the many customers who bought them. However, next to singing, Maureen found her most creative fulfillment in the culinary arts, taking classes and traveling the world in her exploration of foods and cooking techniques. She loved to make meals into events that merged taste, texture, color, and sociability.
Maureen's super-power was her ability to converse with seemingly anyone from anywhere about almost anything. A walking definition of "charismatic," people were drawn to her captivating smile, light green eyes, intelligence, and humor like moths to a flame. Her ability to make all feel welcome at the table of her life was a marvel even to those closest to her.
When Maureen's children were older, she tried to reignite her singing voice through serious study. Fate, however, had other plans when her mother suffered a massive stroke and Maureen became her primary caregiver, sidelining her dreams once again. After her mother's death, Maureen recommitted herself to “skiing," cooking epic meals, and hosting elaborate parties for family and friends.
Maureen will be remembered for her extraordinary beauty (inside and out), her incredible voice (enjoyed by all when she spoke, sang or even laughed), her enchanting social skills, a shopper of epic proportions, and her compassion and generosity.
In lieu of flowers donations would be appreciated in Maureen's memory to The Anthony and Maureen Cafaro Scholarship Fund at Creighton University; or the Saint Ann Center for Inter-generational Care in Milwaukee (on Morgan Ave.); or Saint Mary's Visitation Church in Elm Grove.
Visitation will be on Sunday, October 3 from 2-4pm at Becker Ritter Funeral Home in Brookfield, WI. A High Mass will begin at 10am on Monday, October 4 at St. Mary's Visitation Church in Elm Grove, WI. Burial will follow (family only), then all friends and family will be welcomed at the Western Racquet Club for a reception.
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