Trusted Friends of the Community
With part-time and full-time funeral directors, complete administrative staff, greeters and lot attendants, the Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker team will make sure all your needs are carefully and completely met. Additionally, as experts at Title 19, we can help guide you on how best to use your insurance policies, trusts or will to pay for your funeral without penalty. Check with our funeral directors to discuss the method which is most appropriate for you and your loved one's situation. For further information about preplanning or any other questions, please call us at (262) 542-6609, or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Lou Charapata, Owner/Funeral Director
"I came to Waukesha almost 30 years ago and have been fortunate to be a part of this community ever since. There is great importance in what we do to help people deal with powerful feelings after experiencing the death of a loved one. I feel fortunate to operate a business with a staff who feels that providing extraordinary service is a primary goal. I am extremely passionate about what I do and feel honored to help the families we serve at Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home."
Mary Lou has long been a strong advocate for Women in funeral service. She is a forerunner being a licensed funeral director for almost 30 years. Mary Lou is now a mentor and an example for women who are in funeral service today as well as the Waukesha and Milwaukee communities. Her dynamic personality and caring attitude make Mary Lou unique. She is not only a concerned professional but also a civic-minded citizen who has Waukesha community's best interests in mind.
Mary Lou is a native of Crivitz, Wisconsin. She holds a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a degree in funeral service from the Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Skokie, Illinois. She is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Wisconsin and Arizona, having completed her national and state board exams in both states. Mary Lou served her apprenticeship with John Cesarz and Grant Zinnecker before moving to Arizona where she worked for several large-scale funeral homes before rejoining Cesarz and Zinnecker in 1986. She became a partner in the firm in 1993 when the company name was changed to Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home.
Mary Lou is proud to have over 29 years of serving families in Waukesha County. She is currently on Interfaith Caregiving Network Board, member of Ascension Lutheran Church (serving as advisor to the Grief Recovery Group), Waukesha Optimist Club, as well as an active member of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association (WFDA), the Milwaukee/Waukesha Funeral Directors Association (MWFDA), the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce and the Waukesha County Business Alliance. Mary Lou was the past vice president and president of the South Central Association of Funeral Directors.
Mary Lou has also served on the board for the Southeast Wisconsin Association of Suicidology, the advisory board for the Rolland D. Nelson Hospice. In 1997 she received a "Friends of Education" award for her pioneering work in bringing death education to area schools, churches, nursing homes and hospitals. Mary Lou facilitates church and school groups that tour Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home. She is committed to the subject of infant death and participates with Resolve through Sharing. She also speaks on panels throughout the Waukesha County and Milwaukee County community.
Mary Lou enjoys spending time with her son, Austin, her parents, family and friends. Her hobbies include playing the piano, golfing, downhill skiing, boating, reading and a sports fan.
Joanne Abbs, Advanced Planning Counselor
Joanne began her association with Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home in November of 2003 as our Family Services Counselor. Joanne assists our friends and families in completing dignified and cost-conscience funeral arrangements and pre-funding. This process brings peace of mind to families and their loved ones. She also visits with our families after the funeral service with an informational packet and follow-up support materials from our funeral home.
Joanne is a native of Crivitz, Wisconsin. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin -Green Bay in Education and a Master's of Science in Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee. Joanne has background experience as an elementary school teacher for 14 years and elementary school principal for 15 years in Waukesha County. She is a member of Divine Redeemer Lutheran Church in Hartland, WI.
Joanne and her husband Ward have been married for 24 years and reside in Hartland WI. They have three children: Ward Jr. (Jennifer) of Appleton, WI; Mitch Maloney of Atlanta, Georgia; and one daughter Staci of Hartland. Joanne is the proud grandmother of five grandchildren, Tyler 12, Haley 9, Charlie 5, Blake 1, and Emma 4 months old. She enjoys all water sports, downhill skiing, reading and spending time with her family.
Joanne is available to help you and your family to discuss pre-planning. Joanne will meet with families at the funeral home or in the comfort of their homes. She is also available to present educational and informational pre-need seminars at your church, chapel, or the meeting place of your choice. To arrange a private and confidential pre-need arrangement appointment or to schedule a seminar, contact Joanne at 262-542-6609.
Mariah Dobbs, Funeral Director
"As a funeral director, I strive to provide the best possible service through remembrance and tribute to lives that were well lived. Being able to achieve a meaningful funeral experience for each family requires careful listening and attention-to-detail, as well as an understanding of each family's needs. Through my experience as a funeral director, I have found great importance in providing grief support and hope for the children of our families in the community. I am proud to be on the founding board of Healing Hearts of Waukesha County. Healing Hearts of Waukesha County is a not-for-profit organization offering compassion, hope and healing through guided peer support for children experiencing loss and the adults who care about them. I am also honored to serve the families of Waukesha and surrounding communities through funeral service, death care education and other community activities. As natives of Maine, my husband Jason and I and our two children, Micah and Leah, are happy to call Wisconsin home."
Healing Hearts of Waukesha County has many opportunities for community involvement through becoming a trained facilitator, member organization, volunteers, and/or a financial contributor. Visit Healing Hearts of Waukesha County or call Kathy Kuhn, Executive Director, at 262-538-0547 for more information.
John Pludeman, Funeral Director
"A native of Shawano, WI, I am a graduate of Milwaukee Area Technical College in Funeral Service. I have also earned a bachelor and master's degree from Cardinal Stritch University. Along with being a licensed funeral director, I am an educator and coordinator of the Funeral Service Program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Part of my career includes speaking to professional audiences across the United States on many funeral service related topics, as well as authoring text books and numerous articles for funeral service publications. I am also proud to be on staff at Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker Funeral Home because it exemplifies the highest of standards in the profession while providing outstanding service to families."
Tracy Schessow, Funeral Director
"I am originally from Fond du Lac and moved here to start mortuary school in 1990 at Milwaukee Area Technical College West Allis. Becoming a member of the Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker family of funeral directors has allowed me to touch peoples' lives in ways that I hope brings them a little reassurance in a time of great sorrow.
When I was younger I experienced the death of someone very close to me. And while losing a loved one is never easy, one person was able to lessen my grief. I found a source of comfort in the understanding and compassion of a funeral director who really cared. At that moment, I decided I wanted to be able to help people in the same way.
Working in the Milwaukee and Waukesha area has given me the experience and diversity I need to help all families. Being on the Board of the Milwaukee/Waukesha County Funeral Directors' Association (MWFDA) has kept me current on meeting the communities' needs and wants."
Jessica Urban, Funeral Director
"During high school and college, I was fortunate to be able to work as a CNA for elderly residents at a nursing home back in Minnesota. During that time in my life, I found my passion working with families who were in the process of losing a loved one. After attending the University of South Dakota for business management, I attended and graduated from the University of Minnesota with my Bachelor of Science in mortuary science. I was a licensed funeral director for a year in the Twin Cities but, in my heart, I knew I wanted to find a special community to settle down in and call home. After searching, I found my calling here in Waukesha and with all the other compassionate staff at Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker. I am excited to become more involved with such a wonderful community and to help those in the community remember and honor the lives of their loved ones."
Candy Karlen, Office Administrator
"While I spent most of my career working for the CEO of MGIC Investment Corp., I stepped down from my position to help with my young nieces when my sister-in-law became terminally ill. That is how I became associated with Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker and met Mary Lou. The genuine kindness, compassion and concern Mary Lou and her staff showed my family was beyond my expectations. Having a loved one die really made me think about what was important in life, and I became a volunteer for Interfaith. Three years later I had the opportunity to join the CCZ staff and love being a part of such a wonderful and caring team. I am proud to be a native of Neillsville, Wisconsin and have three grown children and a grandson on the way."
Lisa Potter, Office Administrator/Funeral Director
"I have spent most of my adult life in a rewarding career in funeral service. I earned my Associate Degree in Funeral Service at Milwaukee Area Technical College and became a licensed funeral director in 1999. I am proud to have served many families in the Milwaukee and East Troy areas. After taking some time off to raise my children, it is a privilege to work in the office and as a funeral director at Cesarz, Charapata & Zinnecker."
Rosemary Wehner, Part-time Office Administrator/Support Staff
"I joined the staff at CCZ Funeral Home after working in the Special Education Department of the Elmbrook School District. Since then, I have learned much about the importance of funeral service and the role it plays in the healing experience of a family when a loved one dies. On a daily basis, I have seen the special care and guidance given to the families we serve. It is a privilege to be part of the staff at CCZ and to assist in their dedication to each family that comes to our funeral home."
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