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Mary Lou Ristow-Seidel

April 21, 2020 | 6 comments

With bluebirds singing and flowers blooming, Mary Louise “LuLu” Ristow-Seidel entered the gates to her eternal home on April 18, 2020 after a long battle with breast cancer.

Mary Lou was the youngest born to Albert and Henrietta Kendhammer on January 19, 1949. Mary Lou grew up with her two older brothers, Larry and Roger, and her older sister, Marietta, in La Crosse, WI. She was a 1967 graduate of Aquinas High School. She married Tom Ristow and had two daughters, Jackie and Nicole. They later divorced, and she went on to marry Paul Seidel in 1994. Mary Lou and Paul resided on Nathan Hill with their hobby farm that housed various species of animals. Mary Lou was known for having a soft spot for all animals and would bring them home, sometimes to Paul’s surprise.

Mary Lou and Paul shared an admiration for horses. Their hobby farm included a pasture that housed many horses throughout the years. They would attend auctions searching for a new one to add to their family. They also enjoyed riding horses and even went horseback riding on the beach during a vacation to the Dominican Republic.

Mary Lou and Paul had a passion for traveling. They spent their honeymoon in Hawaii exploring all five islands. They both were known for driving to the ends of the country at the drop of a hat. Mary Lou and Paul made many memories out west visiting Yellowstone, Glacier Park, and South Dakota to bring back the “good fireworks,” as they would say. To them, the word vacation meant a road trip to small towns or unique tourist sites, such as the concrete park. Mary Lou invoked a passion for exploring in her children and grandkids, from driving to an unknown destination to exploring the wooden areas surrounding her home or making the casual trip to Florida.

Mary Lou was known for her immaculate koi pond and never ending flower gardens. She would spend countless hours preparing for her gardens to bloom, which included growing her plants in the basement next to the indoor koi pond during the winter months. Mary Lou will always be remembered for her love of blue morning glories. Her love for gardening lives on through her children and grandchildren as they grow their own gardens.

Mary Lou was not one to pass up a good adventure. You could find Mary Lou jumping onto a four wheeler with a grandkid and not returning home until sundown. She enjoyed trips to the casino, often joking about her lucky horseshoe. She could convince anyone to hop on a rollercoaster, even her husband Paul who hates rollercoasters. Mary Lou could be seen driving her Dad’s yellow Massey Ferguson tractor around the pasture with a grandkid on her lap or using the bucket to lift a grandkid to pick apples from her orchard. Her need for adventure is emulated by her family members.

Mary Lou had countless hobbies she enjoyed. She could found riding horses, painting ceramic statues, embroidering dish towels, playing euchre, or completing a difficult puzzle. She was also known for her ability to bake and serve one of kind meals. She made amazing apple pies, which her husband Paul loved, and hosted numerous holidays that included her delicious ham and fruit salad.

Mary Lou will be most remembered for her undying love for her husband and family. Mary Lou and Paul’s home is a place encapsulated by love. Mary Lou strived to never miss any milestones in her family’s lives and was sure to let you know how proud she was. At any given time, their grandkids could be found staying at their home. Mary Lou will be greatly missed by her family, but her spirit will live on through them and the memories.

Mary Lou is survived by her husband, Paul and her daughters, Jackie (Jeff Stingl) Ristow of French Island, and Nicole Johnson of Onalaska. Grandchildren: Christina (Paul) Langrehr of Rockland, Daniel (Leah Brady) Johnson of Stoddard, Haylee (John Munson) Straub of La Crosse, Avery (Jacob Vought) Straub of La Crosse, Nathan Johnson of Onalaska, David Straub of Rockland, Brandon Johnson of Onalaska, Matthew Tyler of Rockland, and Jaxson Moen of Onalaska. Great grandchildren: Nolan, Aubrey, and Leah Langrehr of Rockland. Mary Lou is also survived by her siblings Larry (Rosie) Kendhammer of La Crosse, Roger (Cathy) Kendhammer of La Crosse, and Marietta (Bob Seaquist) Buchner of La Crosse, and many nieces and nephews.

Mary Lou was preceded in death by her parents, Albert and Henrietta Kendhammer.

She will be cremated at Coulee Cremation and a private service for immediate family at The Gathering Place.

Mary Lou’s family wishes to thank Mayo Clinic Hospice, Coulee Cremation, and The Gathering Place.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center of La Crosse, WI for cancer research  in honor of Mary Lou.





  1. Mike Manske

    My condolences to Mary Lou s entire family.

    • Dean and Debbie Seidel

      My thoughts are with all of you. I didnt know her well but sounds like an amazing women. What wonderful memories treasure and keep close to your hearts.

  2. Melissa (Alberts) Edwards and family

    I’m so sorry for your loss- May you always find her in your wonderful memories and with all Gods creatures, she loved so much, that you see around you everyday.

  3. Diane Martini-Schulze

    Condolences to the entire family – Love from Aunt Irene Martini – Diane Martini-Schulze

  4. Don and Carolyn Alberts

    So sorry to hear of Mary Lou’s death. Our hearts go out to the whole family during this difficult time. We were so fortunate to visit with Mary Lou at Bernie’s 80th birthday party. It sounds like she lived a wonderful life with a loving family, travel, hobbies and, of course, her love of horses. We know she will be truly missed by all.

  5. Lynette Neumann

    Jackie, I saw this today, and I am so sorry to you, your sister, family and friends.Your mother was a good person and I know you will miss her. So sad. Lynette Neumann


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