Mary Lou Behling

Mary Lou Behling (Woodruff)

Wednesday, October 18th, 1944 - Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
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Mary Lou Behling, beloved mother, grandmother, sister, and wife, passed into the arms of the
angels on December 10, 2019 following complications of pulmonary fibrosis.

Mary Lou was born October 18, 1944 to Richard and Mary Ann (Muetze) Woodruff in LaCrosse
WI. She spent an idyllic childhood in LaCrosse, surrounded by a large and loving family. Mary
Lou and her older brother Dick shared many adventures there together, and she was a doting
big sister to her brothers Tim, Mark, and Steve. Her family eventually moved to Marshalltown,
Iowa, where she attended St. Mary’s High School and met Bernie Grier, the “love of her life” ,
whom she later married in 1968. They made their home in Dubuque, IA and welcomed
daughter Laura in 1971. Bernie tragically died four days before the birth of second daughter
Melinda “Mindy” in 1974. Mary Lou and her daughters moved back to Marshalltown to be with
her parents and mother-in-law Martha. In 1976 Mary Lou reconnected with family friend Jim
Speas; they married and resided in Iowa Falls, IA, where Mary Lou raised Jim’s daughters
Jennifer and Megan as her own. As a family they spent many hours boating on the Iowa River
and Clear Lake, took many joyful ski trips to Colorado, and hosted many memorable
celebrations with family and friends. Mary Lou was an incredible homemaker. She made each
birthday for her girls special with a homemade cake and party with friends, created fun
homemade costumes every Halloween, and made every Christmas magical--baking her family’s
favorite cookies and treats, decorating every square inch of the house, and picking out each gift
she gave with thought and love. During her time in Iowa Falls, Mary Lou was an involved
member of St. Mark’s Catholic Church and participated in several social organizations where
she made many dear friends. In 1988 Jim and Mary Lou moved to Mesa, AZ, where they later
amicably ended their marriage. Mary Lou then went back to school and worked full time, first as
a physical therapy assistant and later as a home health care services coordinator. During her
time in Arizona she made numerous friends, and was the much-loved adoptive “Mom” to her
co-workers. In 2012 Mary Lou married long time friend Jim Behling her “prince in shining
armour” and they moved to Urbandale Iowa, and then eventually to Mequon WI to live near
daughter Laura, her “son” Nick, and her grandchildren Belle and Milo. She was later joined by
daughter Mindy in Mequon. Mary Lou dedicated the rest of her life to being a loving grandma,
mom, and wife. She showered her loved ones with little gifts, cards and special notes, and
brought so much happiness to us all.

Mary Lou is survived by her spouse Jim Behling, Mequon, WI, daughter Laura (Nick) Meyer,
Mequon, WI, grandchildren Milo and Belle Meyer, Mequon, WI, daughter Mindy Speas,
Mequon, WI, daughter Jennifer Speas, St.Elmo, MN, grandchildren Madalene, Catherine, and
John Halley, St. Elmo, MN, daughter Megan Speas (Ben Cohen), Plymouth, MN, grandchildren
Beau, Bree, and Zachary Cohen, Plymouth, MN, stepson Jay Behling, Mequon, WI, stepson
Jon (Lynette) Behling, Lakeville, MN, step-grandchildren Parker and Haley Behling, Lakeville,
MN, stepson Jimmy Behling, Minneapolis, MN, and stepson Jeremy (Heather) Behling,
Burlington, WI. She is also survived by siblings Dick (Sharon) Woodruff, Osage, IA, Mark
Woodruff (Cathy), Marshalltown, IA, and Steve Woodruff, Marshalltown, IA. Mary Lou also
leaves behind many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends too numerous to mention.
She is preceded in death by her first husband Bernie Grier, parents Richard and Mary Ann
Woodruff, brother Tim Woodruff, father and mother-in-law Charles and Martha Grier, father and
mother-in-law Cordis and Madalene Speas, and father and mother-in-law William and Lauretta

Mary Lou left a legacy of love and faith--she was a truly loving and caring mom, grandma,
daughter, wife, sister, aunt, and friend. Despite the many adversities she faced in her life, she
always held a forgiving and positive attitude. Everywhere she went, people were touched by
her joyful, fun-loving, thoughtful, compassionate, and sweet soul. She will be dearly missed.

Special thanks to the doctors, nurses, and staff at Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee Hospital in
Mequon for their exceptional care of Mary Lou and her family during her stay there.

A Celebration of Life for Mary Lou Behling will take place Saturday, January 4 at Lumen Christi Church, 2750
W.Mequon Rd, Mequon, WI 53092. Visitation will begin at 11:00 a.m., followed by a funeral
mass at 12:00 p.m., concluding with a luncheon at the church. In lieu of flowers, please
consider a donation made in Mary Lou’s name to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (go to to give) or to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission (go to
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Saturday, January 4th, 2020 | 11:00am - 12:00pm
    Saturday, January 4th, 2020 11:00am - 12:00pm
    Lumen Christi Catholic Church
    2750 W. Mequon Rd
    Mequon, Wisconsin 53092
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Saturday, January 4th, 2020 | 12:00pm
    Saturday, January 4th, 2020 12:00pm
    Lumen Christi Catholic Church
    2750 W. Mequon Rd
    Mequon, Wisconsin 53092
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence
Plant a Tree in Memory of Mary Lou
2 trees have been planted in memory of Mary Lou Behling (Woodruff)

Dan and Juliet Speas

Posted at 02:53am
She always brought warmth and smiles with her. She made the world a better place. We cherish our memories of her. Sending prayers of Faith to all!
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A memorial tree was planted in the memory of Mary Lou Behling — Plant a Tree Now

Vicky Biederman

Posted at 02:50am
Sending my sympathy and prayers during this sad time.
Vicky (Gentile) and Ed Biederman, FL

Darlene Wilkes

Posted at 01:47pm
I was so very sorry to hear of Mary Lou's passing, she was such a lovely, positive and special person, she will be missed by many. I know that those who were blessed to have her in their lives will always carry a part of her with them.

Charles and Lisa Schneider

Posted at 11:54am
Lisa and I extend our condolences to family and friends, especially to Jim Behling and family. We are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

Jason, Natalia, and Macallan Moran

Posted at 02:56pm
Deepest sympathies.
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Jason, Natalia, and Macallan Moran purchased flowers for the family of Mary Lou Behling.


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