August 24, 2023 at 7:20 a.m.
Updated August 24, 2023 at 7:20 a.m.

Leary, Patrick

Patrick Leary
Patrick Leary

Patrick Leary, age 95, of Madison, died Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, at home surrounded by his family. He was born on Feb. 9, 1928, in Dodgeville, Wis., the son of Leo and Ruth (Dougherty) Leary.

After graduating from Ridgeway High School, Pat volunteered in the Merchant Marines and U.S. Navy during World War II. He completed his culinary arts education at Dunwoody Institute before being recalled for duty in the Korean War. While stationed in Charleston, S.C., he went to the Catholic hospital’s nursing school and asked to be introduced to a nice girl.  The nuns introduced him to Helen Blanche of Charleston.  They married in Charleston on Nov. 22, 1952, then moved to Madison to start their life together.  

Patrick taught baking at MATC for 33 years, and described it as “…the best baker’s job in the country.”  As his family grew, he instilled in his children the importance of working hard.  A favorite saying of his was “Put your backbone where your wishbone is.” Patrick made hundreds of wedding cakes in his bakeshop, and a 500-pound cake to celebrate Madison’s birthday.  Once retired, he spent many hours in his favorite place away from home – his land and his farmette with his horse in Ridgeway and Iowa County. 

Patrick loved to tell stories and could initiate a conversation with anyone. Over his long life he delivered milk in a horse drawn cart as a boy in Ridgeway, served in two wars, married a great woman of faith, and fathered 11 children. He visited Ireland twice.  He was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council No. 531, American Legion Post No. 0257, and remained a faithful Catholic, serving as altar server, sacristan and Eucharistic minister at St. Mary’s Care Center bringing communion, conversation and cheer to the residents. Pat shared with others about the grace God showed him though Alcoholics Anonymous – he had 50+ years of sobriety and helped many who struggled with drug or alcohol addiction. He liked sports and enjoyed good athletic competition. He loved to sing and had a beautiful voice.

Patrick is survived by his wife, Helen; daughters, Peggy (Greg) Walters, Anne (John) Hillier, Jeanne (Keith) Causin, Tracy (Edgar) Johnson and Rita (LeeShon) Leary-Lewis; sons, Daniel (Linda), David (Catherine Henderson), Steven (Lori) and Sean (Kerry); 22 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren; son-in-law, Michael Durst; and brother-in-law, John Dahlby. He was preceded in death by his son, Matthew Leary; daughter, Coleen Durst; his parents; three sisters, Mabel (Jack) Magli, Elaine (Robert) Campbell and Marilyn (John) Dahlby. 

 A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY CATHOLIC CHURCH, 5101 Schofield St., Monona, at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 25, 2023, with the Rev. Chad Droessler presiding.  Burial will follow at Highland Memory Gardens. Visitation will be at the church from 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., with a Rosary beginning at 10:30. 

Memorials may be gifted in Patrick’s name to Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church and St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in Ridgeway, Wis. Online condolences may be made at

Gunderson East

Funeral & Cremation Care

5203 Monona Drive

(608) 221-5420