Margaret (Fandel) Ferry, age 85, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022.
She was born in the small town of Ladysmith in northern Wisconsin on Dec. 27, 1936. The third of 13 children born to Richard and Mildred Fandel, Margaret and her family moved to a farm north of Ladysmith in 1941 where she spent her childhood. She graduated from Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic High School in 1954. After working at a job in Milwaukee, she felt God calling her to a life of ministry, so she returned to Ladysmith in 1955 and entered the Order of Servants of Mary (OSM). Becoming known as Sister Mary James OSM she made her vows in 1957. As a nun, she ministered as a teacher, a parish organist, and a piano teacher in towns in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Once again feeling God's call, Margaret left the order in 1965, moving to Green Bay, Wis., to teach. She soon met, fell in love, and married Wilbert Ferry Jr. on Aug. 6, 1966, at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church. Over the following decade, they had seven children, three girls and four boys, and moved from Green Bay to Schofield to Fitchburg, Wis., where they have lived to this day.
Family was always the focus of her life and she extended that family over the decades to include so many more: the dozens she babysat; the enthusiastic girls she lead as Troop Leader for the Girl Scouts; the diligent students she drilled in piano lessons; the many clients she cleaned houses for; the constant churn of her children’s friends coming and going; the ill and aging she visited and comforted; and the lonely "extras" she invited to warm holiday meals and celebrations.
Her religion and relationship with God always remained an essential part of her life. Always an active parishioner, at St. Maria Goretti Church in Madison she spent years as the music coordinator for Sunday Masses as well as playing the organ for hundreds of funerals and weddings over the decades. Moving on from music, she continued to contribute to parish life by teaching second grade religious education classes until 2021.
Margaret had also filled her life with travel including a pilgrimage to the Servite holy places in Austria and Italy, and another to Egypt and the Holy Land; a family heritage trip to Germany and the Czech Republic; and a long ocean cruise with Will from LA to Miami via the Panama Canal.
Other interests of her life included playing piano, playing board games and cards, sewing (including all three of her daughters' wedding dresses, grandchildren's baptismal gowns, and countless other clothing items), bowling, dancing, gardening, history, and of course, grandparenting.
Margaret is survived by her husband, Wilbert; children, Teresa (Mike) Mogensen, Joseph (Ketoria) Ferry, Gregory (Jen) Ferry, Robert (Tom) Ferry, Rebecca (Ryan) Fredrickson, Nicholas (Norma) Ferry, and Kathleen (Mike) Marty; 14 grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and seven sisters and three brothers. She was preceded in death by her parents, Richard and Mildred; and brothers, Thomas Fandel and Denis Fandel.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, 5313 Flad Ave., Madison, at 11 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 28, with Father Scott Emerson presiding. Family and friends who wish to view the Mass via livestream may visit Margaret’s obituary page at www.gundersonfh.com and click on the Live Webcast Link at 11 a.m. on Monday. Burial will follow at Resurrection Cemetery. A visitation will be held at Gunderson Fitchburg Funeral and Cremation Care, 2950 Chapel Valley Road, Fitchburg, from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27, and also at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of the Mass on Monday.
In lieu of flowers, Margaret’s family suggests donations be made to Servants of Mary in Ladysmith, Wis., (www.servitesisters.org), a vital part of her life. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.