Mary Lee (Halverson) Wachter

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Former Wisconsin resident Mary Lee (Halverson) Wachter, born July 19, 1929, died peacefully in Tucson, Arizona, on May 14, 2015. Mary was born in Waterman, Ill., but quickly became a true Wisconsin native—raised in Bridgeport and Prairie du Chien. In 1949 she married Edgar “Buddo” Fernette in Prairie du Chien but was soon widowed in 1951. Five years later, she married Charles “Chan” Wachter who became her lifelong partner and loving father to their family. The Wachters moved to Janesville to raise the family where Chan worked for General Motors for 25 years.

Mary was a graduate of University of Wisconsin–Whitewater earning a Bachelor’s degree in education. Her passion in life was reading with an emphasis on history and World War II, an interest stimulated by the fact that both her husbands were WWII Veterans.  After Chan retired from GM, the two invested in real estate—buying and renovating old homes in the Janesville area. There was never a home that Mary and Chan couldn’t take on, restoring it to its original beauty. Mary moved to Tucson in 2010 but remained a fan of the Green Bay Packers and a Wisconsinite at heart.

Mary is survived by her brother Robert Halverson Sr., Sparta, and five children, Greg Fernette, Evergreen, Colo., Victoria Fernette, Washington D.C., Deborah (Fernette) Swanson, Tucson, Ariz., James Wachter, Wasilla, Alaska, and Chuck Wachter, Ione, Wash.; as well as six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. 

Mary will always be remembered for her strength, determination and the pride she expressed in her family. A private memorial service is planned with her family in Wisconsin over the summer. For more information email

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