Madonna Donovan Brenke

MADONNA DONOVAN is the daughter of Richard and Blanche Johnson Donovan. She was born on September 10, 1924, in rural Jackson County, Iowa.

Madonna married Louis Brenke on October 10, 1942. They had two children: Dorothy and Patricia.

  • Dorothy (April 2, 1943–October 14, 2014) married Carl Pfalzgraf. They had four children:
    • Tammy Sechler Hooks
      • Lindsay
      • Ashley Vaughn
        • Nolan
        • Annistyn
        • Liam (April 1, 2011–June 14, 2014)
      • Audrey
    • Jeffrey Pfalzgraf
      • Rorric
      • Bryce
    • Kristen Garza
      • Oscar Jr.
      • Karlah
      • Olivia
      • Michael
      • Isabella
      • Noelle
    • Carla Pfalzgraf
  • Patricia married Ron Smyth. They had one son:
    • Josh

Madonna died on June 4, 2007. Louis died on August 18, 2016. They are buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery.

Madonna’s obituary from FindAGrave

Madonna M. Brenke, 82, of 1751 Justin Lane, passed away peacefully at 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 4, 2007, at home surrounded by and under the care of her daughters, Patricia Smyth, of Dubuque, and Dorothy Pfalzgraf, of Rockford, Ill.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery. Friends may call from 2 to 7 p.m. today at Hoffmann Schneider and Kitchen Funeral Home, 3860 Asbury Road, Dubuque, where there will be a wake service at 6:30 p.m.

A lifelong Iowa pioneer, Madonna was born on Sept. 10, 1924, in rural Jackson County, daughter of Richard and Blanche (Johnson) Donovan. On Oct. 10, 1942, she married Louis Brenke, of Dubuque, he survives her.

She was employed for many years at the Dubuque Packing Company, where over the years she remained in touch with the ladies she worked with. She also was active in the community, serving several times as president of the TOPS Club, as well as lending her talent, her green thumb (she was recognized by Iowa State University with a Master Gardener degree), to the city of Dubuque Greenhouse, the Arboretum and the Tri-State Garden Club amongst others. She was honored often for her extraordinary gardening talents, most recently for her prize-winning tomatoes at the Dubuque County Fair. Her most cherished creations were her children, five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

She was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Madonna will be remembered for her pride in her Irish heritage as well as her artistic nature and irrepressible social gifts. She will forever be lovingly remembered as “Nonna Donna” by her great-grandchildren.

She also is survived by her daughters, Dorothy (Carl) Pfalzgraf, of Rockford, and Patricia (Ronald) Smyth, of Dubuque; five grandchildren, Tammy (David) Hooks, of Rockford, Jeffrey (Lisa) Pfalzgraf, of Decatur, Ill., Kristen (Oscar) Garza, and Carla (Peter) Vedro, both of Rockford, and Joshua Smyth, of Dubuque; 11 great-grandchildren; a sister, Lois (Norbert) Houselog, of Dubuque; two brothers, Francis (Eleanor) Donovan, of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Neal (Ellen) Donovan, of Bernard, Iowa; a sister-in-law, Joan (Gerald) Donovan, of Hollister, Mo.; 17 nieces and nephews; and two special friends, Robert and Boogie.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Richard and Blanche Donovan; a brother, Gerald “Buzzy” Donovan; and a nephew, Daniel Donovan.