Mary Jo Mullen Atherton

Mary Jo Mullen Atherton,76, of Laramie, Wyoming passed away at her home on Sunday, September 2, 2018. She was born in Garnett, Kansas on March 21, 1942 to Edmund and Josephine Mullen. She moved to Laramie with her husband Robert Atherton when he got a job working at UW.

Mary Jo worked as executive director for the Wyoming Psychology Association. She was an avid quilter, acted with the Unexpected Company, sang with The Melodies and active in local politics. She and her husband were involved with Foreign Foods.  Mary Jo loved her family including her two cats, Mirrcat and Callie.

Mary Jo is preceded in death by her husband of over 50 years and her parents. She is survived by her daughter Jodie Atherton and son-in-law Kirk VanDyke. She is further survived by her siblings Jeanie Johnson, Phil Mullen (Sue Smith), Cathy Stacker and step-brother Kevin Mullen.


An Irish Wake will be held Sunday, September 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Alice Hardy Stevens Center. To send condolences or to sign the online guestbook, please go to

Print This Obituary Print This Obituary

Condolences (22)

  • Judy Knight

    I met Mary Jo when she was pregnant, and we both appeared on a panel discussion at a packed UW auditorium that unexpectedly focused on abortion, of all things! I was totally unprepared to discuss that issue but Mary Jo was fantastic! "What guts this lady has," I thought, "I've got to get to know her." That did come to pass, we did many League of Women Voter things together in the 1970s, and on to PTAs, where I learned she was a great photographer. She happily volunteered to photograph textiles at the Laramie Plains Museum when we had a project to do that, and then I learned that we share a love of textiles and quilting. She had so many interests and had her hand in so many Laramie neat things. Special hugs to you Jodi, you are not alone in missing her--Mary Jo will be missed all over town. Judy Knight

  • Donna Hoffman

    I'm saddened to hear Mary Jo has passed. We worked together when I was still on Laramie. She was so full of life, so busy with a variety of activities, always creative and dressed imecably. Jodi, you two made a great event planning team and had the best spread of wonderful foods for each of them. Hold toghtly to your beautiful memories.

  • Michael Comly MD

    What a wonderful lady. She was a good friend and her home made cookies were the best and she never forgot me. I will never forget her.

  • Alanna Coca

    Jodie, I will always remember your mother with a smile on her face and a band-aid on her finger. Much love to you,

  • Anonymous

    Jeff Your mom and dad were always so warm and kind to me it was an honor that we became friends and shared interest in gardens and horses and good foods.May she rest in piece knowing so many loved them both

  • Rick and Karen Klein

    Jodie, my heart is still broken from the loss of your mom. I remember Rick and I arriving at a Civitan dinner late and sitting by ourselves at a tables. Your mom made everyone gets up and move so we could join the big table. Sitting in the back of a camper, while fossil fish digging, and helping you dress your barbie dolls, getting hooked up with Prairie Home Companion, sharing a love of quilting, and of course taking care of your mom’s beloved Ivy and Shoshone while you guys were on sabbatical. Lots of love, Rick and Karen

  • V. Thompson

    My sincere condolences to the family of Mary Jo Atherton. May you find comfort in your loving memories, and in God's promise to soon "swallow up death forever" and "wipe away the tears from all faces." (Isaiah 25;8) With deepest sympathy,

  • John P Thorn, Ph.D.

    Mary Jo was more than the executive director of the Wyoming Psychological Association. She was the driving force that brought the membership together to know one another, the better to work toward making a difference in behavioral health. Mary Jo’s enthusiasm for that mission thrust WPA onto the national stage and she herself held national office. An early officer in the organization, Mary Jo was very much my support and mentor. Her presence shall ever be missed. John Thorn....

  • Ian Forrester

    Ian Forrester Dear Jodie It almost exactly 40 years ago, when Sam, Alan, Sue and I arrived in Laramie, from New Zealand, as part of my one year long, sabbatical leave, working with Bob at the University of Wyoming. In those first few days of our wonderful time in Laramie (whilst you and your Mum and Dad, were away on vacation) we had the privilege to stay in your house on Garfield and to use you great, yellow Chevy truck for transportation. What a typical example of the generosity which your Mum and Dad continued provide to us in that unforgettable time in Laramie. Mary Jo was especially kind to us, arranging dinner parties, introducing us to friends, and simply telling us about the various parts which constitute a full life in Laramie. I could go on for hours recalling so many of those great times with Mary Jo, Bob and you -- not to forget Shoni as well. Truly unforgettable times and memories. Mary Jo was always the real axis to those times ...... she will be missed. Kindest thoughts and love from all the Forrester's -- to you and Kirk.

  • Katherine Brunett McGuire

    I was lucky to grow up across the alley from the Athertons. Mary Jo was a loyal and generous friend and neighbor. I loved her smile and her laugh. She was never quick to judge, but always quick to lend an ear or give words of support. Warm thoughts and blessings to Her dearest daughter, Jodie. My Mom is still across the alley for support and the back door is always open. I love to think that she and Bob are up there dancing. Much love, Katherine Brunett McGuire

  • Gay Deitrich-MacLean

    Jodi I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing, she was such a kind and optimistic force in my life when I moved to Laramie and began my practice in Mark Watt’s and Judith Olosn’s Office where she was working. I know everyone involved with WPA knows what a contribution she made to psychology in Wyoming. I am deeply sad to hear of her passing. So sorry for your loss. Gay Deitrich-MacLean

  • Edward Battig

    Jodie, I met your dad when we first moved here in '12, again, as so many have said, they invited me in and made me feel as if I've lived here and known them my whole life. When I found out she had MS, your mom and dad were right there to help and make sure she made all her appointments in Colorado, these were hard times and just their understanding and friendship lessened the load. Mary Jo will be sadly missed.

  • Jane Brady

    Jodie Cathy,,Jeanie,Phil and Kevin O’Connor cousins share your sorrow. We have great memories of the Mullen family and our reunions. So glad Mary Jo had such a full life. Jane O’Connor.Brady and fsmily.

  • Rich Lindsey

    She mentored me in local party politics. I hired her to be the scheduler and first contact for me when I managed Mike Sullivan’s campaign for US Senate. She was the best. Great sense of humor, professional, and nothing but class. She was grand.

  • Kay Kohler

    Mary Jo was a dear friend for almost half a century - we met in 1971 when we were walking around the block and met Bob & Mary Jo on their front porch. We shared projects (painting and renovating the old Family Planning Clinic upstairs at 2nd and Garfield), dinners (Foreign Food substitutes), travels and many many laughs and lots of fun. I will miss her -- she had the most beautiful smile, and a heart of gold. We had a ball. Thanks for the memories - love you always, Mary Jo!

  • Grackle

    I met MJ back in 1970 on a job interview and she has been a very dear friend ever since. Many memories of good times.

  • Leslie and StuvWohl

    Dear Jodie and Kirk we send you our deepest sympathy. I just visited your mom and we had a great visit talking about all the things we shared ie ice sculpture committee during Laramies coldest winter and the University Choir which we both enjoyed. But most of all quilting was a favorite as were the many meals the 4 of us shared. May you Rest In Peace my friend. Love Leslie and Stu Wohl

  • Anonymous

    Jodie: How far back do we go--when the Porche crossed the Wyoming state line from California and your folks bought the house on Garfield. I have so many memories of that time and when you were born. Your mother was not only gorgeous outside but inside as well and a great friend. She had incredible artistic talent and it was evident in everything she did! I am so sorry for your loss and am thinking of you. Louise Smithosn

  • Eric Kohler

    What can one say after losing a dear friend of forty-seven years? MJ was a sweetheart and I will miss her profoundly. Eric D. Kohler

  • Landra L Rezabek

    Jodi and family, Mary Jo always greeted me with a smile and an optimistic or humorous comment. She made the world a "lighter" place. My sincere condolences. Landra Rezabek

  • Cait Rottler

    I was a grad student at UW when I met Bob and Mary Jo, because Bob needed someone to work his horses and help with gardening. Grad school was really tough on me emotionally and mentally, but I always felt like Bob and Mary Jo's house was a safe haven from all of the bad things. I loved hanging out in the kitchen and chatting with Mary Jo after I did yard work, and she'd insatiable send me home with extra vegetables or fruit. One of my dearest memories of her and Bob was a day I went to their house to work on the garden after a particularly bad field work trip and resulting scolding from my advisor. I was exhausted but I didn't want to go home, and I remember Mary Jo came outside and had me come in for some cold water, probably because I looked like a disaster. She and Bob invited me to stay for dinner that night and we sat on their back patio and talked about Rock Springs and horse racing and watched hummingbirds. It was exactly what I needed right at that moment, and while I told them both many times how much their kindness meant to me, I can only hope they knew how deeply and sincerely I meant it. My condolences go to her family, friends, and the Laramie community for their loss.

  • Elinor Olson

    I am a fellow quilter and was in the same coffee group as MaryJo. I admired her many talents and her easy way of entertaining. Elinor Olson


All condolences submitted to this online guest book will be made public for all friends and family to view. Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>