Mary Jo Gelhaus|
March 8, 1947 ~ March 17, 2014
Resident of Danville
Mary Jo Gelhaus passed away after a valiant, seventeen year battle with breast cancer. Throughout her battle with cancer, she remained very positive and upbeat. Mary Jo never let her health and constant treatments slow down her enjoyment of family, friends and life. She was a passionate lover of life, avid golfer, extensive reader and ardent supporter of her beloved Michigan State Spartans.
Mary Jo was born in Wyandotte, Michigan on March 8, 1947 the youngest of three children of Charles and Valeria Watkowski. Mary Jo graduated from Mt. Carmel High School in Wyandotte and later from Michigan State University where she earned both a Bachelors' degree in Accounting in 1969 and Masters' degree in Economics in 1970. She graduated with high honors and was inducted into Mortar Board, recognizing the top 100 women graduates. Mary Jo was the only woman in most of her accounting classes, which prompted her advisor to suggest that she change her major. This only served as additional motivation for her to succeed. Mary Jo was a member and then president of the local chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority.
After graduation, Mary Jo met her husband, Richard Gelhaus and was married in 1972 while working for Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young) and earned her CPA. Mary Jo and Richard moved to Danville in 1979 when her husband accepted a position at Levi Strauss & Co. In 1980, Mary Jo resumed her CPA career in Danville and soon formed the tax practice of Iarussi, Gelhaus & Hauskens in Alamo where she enjoyed working with clients and formed many lasting relationships. During evenings, Mary Jo also pursued and graduated with her MBA in Taxation. Mary Jo was active in the local business chamber and charitable organizations.
Mary Jo was a beloved wife, mother and grandmother. She enjoyed raising her two boys. The weekends were devoted to various sports including soccer, swimming, baseball and football. Mary Jo enjoyed the social aspect of spending time with her boys but equally important, the team parents. At the same time, she made certain that their focus was first on excelling in school. Mary Jo made certain that her boys developed strong lasting bonds with their cousins by vacations together and trips for special family events. Grams was very excited to have a granddaughter and wanted to spent time whenever possible with Sophie.
A devout Catholic, Mary Jo was a member of St. Joan of Arc Church in San Ramon. She and her family helped establish St. Joan of Arc in 1979. Mary Jo was active in the church serving on the finance committee, participating in various fund raisers, attending masses on a regular basis, and assisting in other roles when needed. Mary Jo and her family enjoyed frequent travel with friends from church and consider them an extended family.
Mary Jo and her family have been members of Crow Canyon Country Club since 1986. She was an active and passionate golfer playing several times a week, participating in local club women golf tournaments. For a number of years, Mary Jo was a volunteer walking scorer at the AT&T PGA Pro-Am and local LPGA events. She was active in the women's eighteen-hole club serving as its captain and other positions. She helped start the annual Crow Canyon women's tournament providing support for women's breast cancer research. Throughout her battle with cancer, Mary Jo truly enjoyed friendly competition in winning a match or skins game with her boys or more importantly beating her husband. She developed many lasting long term relationships at Crow Canyon and other local golf clubs.
Mary Jo is survived by her husband of nearly 42 years, Richard Gelhaus, her sons, Gregory Gelhaus and wife Uttara of Singapore and granddaughter Sophie, and Kenneth Gelhaus and wife Abigail of Chicago, Illinois. She also leaves behind her brother Robert Watkowski (Josie) of Trenton, Michigan and sister Andrea Witkowski (Rich) of Wyandotte, Michigan and many cousins, nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her Mother and Father.
Family and friends are invited to celebrate her life at St. Joan of Arc on Tuesday March 25, 2014 at 7:00 pm and memorial services on Wednesday March 26, 2014 at 11:00 am. In recognition of Mary Jo's love of life and golf, the family requests attendees wear golf shirts at the services. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to
or your favorite cancer research charity in lieu of flowers.
Published in Contra Costa Times on Mar. 23, 2014