Give Marquette

Marquette University Alumni Association

Association of Marquette University Women Award Recipient

Mary Neville Bielefeld Award


Since early childhood, Mary Joan Stuessi wanted to be a nurse — a profession that naturally embraces the Jesuit value of caring for others. This and her tenacity have led her to live a life of service.

After graduating from St. Mary’s Academy in Milwaukee, Mary Joan briefly attended Marquette and then transferred to the Columbia Hospital School of Nursing. There, she earned her diploma in nursing in 1951 and returned to Marquette to receive her bachelor of science in nursing in 1953. Since then, Mary Joan has continually given of herself.

During the polio epidemic, she worked at Milwaukee Children’s Hospital, giving comfort through the application of hot packs to children’s affected joints. She then served as medical nursing instructor at the Columbia Hospital School of Nursing for several years, later spending one year as a city of Milwaukee public health nurse, where she ministered to a diverse and largely underserved population. She received her master’s degree in nursing from Marquette in 1964 and returned to teaching as department chair of medical nursing education at the Milwaukee County Medical Complex School of Nursing until she retired in 1990.

In retirement, Mary Joan has continued to serve. As a member of the Woman’s Club of Wisconsin, she served on the community outreach and foundation committees, investigating and advocating for grant applicants. As a lifelong advocate for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, she has remained dedicated to Milwaukee’s Nativity Jesuit Middle School since its inception.

To celebrate her parents’ life and express her respect for the Society of Jesus, Mary Joan established the Stuessi Memorial Garden at Marquette’s Jesuit Residence in 1990. Mary Joan researched and wrote The History of the Friends of the Haggerty Museum of Art, which was printed in 1999. She remains closely tied to Marquette as director at large for the Friends of the Haggerty Museum of Art, which gave her the Apple Service Award in 2009; a member of the College of Nursing’s 75th Anniversary Committee; and a member of the Marquette University Women’s Council.

Get to Know: Mary Joan Stuessi
Bay View neighborhood of Milwaukee