Mary Jo (Duke) Ahlquist, 77, of Sioux City, passed away on August 31, 2019 following a brief illness.
She will be interred at Calvary Cemetery at a later date. Arrangements are under the direction of Waterbury Funeral Service of Sioux City.
Mary Jo Duke was born in Sioux City, Iowa on August 4, 1942 to Olivia (Ebel) and James H. Duke.
She graduated in 1960 from Central High School in Sioux City.
In 1988, Mary realized a long-held dream by earning a B.A. degree in criminal justice from Morningside College. She graduated with honors — Magna Cum Laude, Zeta Sigma, and Roadman Scholar — and went on to study counseling at the graduate level.
Mary married Marlin E. Ahlquist of Bronson, Iowa on June 17, 1961 at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sioux City. Together they raised five children.
Throughout her life, Mary was involved with the food service industry as a server, cook, and food prep manager. After obtaining her degree, she combined these talents with counseling at children’s shelters and drug and alcohol treatment facilities.
Most recently, she was a checker at the Southern Hills Hy-Vee for the last 16 years.
Mary converted to Catholicism in the 1980’s and was a member of the St. Boniface and St. Michael’s churches. Her animals were a vital part of her life, and throughout her lifetime she rescued and cared for hundreds of lost, abandoned, and injured animals.
She is survived by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren:
• JoAnn R. Donner (Rodney Donner) of Sioux City, Iowa, and their children, Amber Donner (Jacob Krimbel) and daughter Joanna Krimbel; Erica Donner (Jose Garcia) and daughters Kisara Mann, Lianna and sons Xaviar and Ciaron Donner; Heather Donner; Michelle Jensen (Cole Jensen); and Seamus Donner.
• Wayne D. Ahlquist (Trish) of Rochester, New York, and their children, Joe and Julia Ahlquist.
• Amy L. Bell (Anthony) of Wichita, Kansas, and their daughter Tonisha Bell.
• Tani J. Russell (Jaime Russell) of Sioux City, Iowa, and their children, Xavia, London, and Drexel Russell.
• Elisa D. Starr (Wesley Starr) of Sioux City, Iowa, and their children, Luke, Seth, Isabel, Wesley Jr., and Ramona Starr and Chaya and Cordez Ahlquist.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Olivia and James H. Duke.