Mary “Ria” Di Salvo’s Obituary

Mary “Ria” Di Salvo, Age 64, of rural Amherst Junction, Wisconsin, passed away December 28, 2021 from cancer and the side effects of the cancer treatments. Mary was born December 9, 1957 in Milwaukee. She was the daughter of the late Philip and Jacqueline (Gorecki) DiSalvo Sr. She moved to Stevens Point area with her family at the age of 10.

Mary attended schools in Stevens Point, including starting college at UWSP. She met her husband, Gene Check, at the Mole Lake Bluegrass Festival. After dating, they moved in together at an old house they rented for twenty-five dollars a month, located several miles outside of Stevens Point on the Wisconsin River.

One night when driving home from work, Mary’s car was hit nearly head on by a drunk driver. She survived with some injuries , but was affected by the crime for some time. She received a small settlement, and Mary and Gene used it to purchase a home and garage north of Tomahawk.

After a few years, Mary decided to finish college as an older non-traditional student. With great determination, she acquired grants, moved in with her twin sister Laura in Stevens Point, and worked jobs while finishing her degree in Fine Arts. This led to a Graphics Designer job at Krause publications in Iola, which she enjoyed for 17 years, making many friendships along the way.

During this time, Mary and Gene moved to a new home they built in the Town of New Hope in Portage County, WI. In 1994, the couple was legally married with a hemp themed wedding at Standing Rocks Park.

When Krause publications gradually closed and moved, Mary then worked at a couple different commercial embroidery companies for a number of years. Mary delayed her retirement and travel dreams for seven years while she acted as a caretaker to her beloved mother, who had instilled the love of art in her. Her mother was able to pass away at home as Mary had hoped she would.

Throughout her life Mary was an accomplished artist and showed her work at many art shows. She used the nickname “Ria” as an artist and many know her by that name. To help pay her way to shows, Mary would often draw portraits, and produced hundreds during her career.

One of her most well known art projects was a surreal nature mural on the end of a barn next to their home on Krogwold Road. Mary painted the mural entirely herself with no grant money. It was quite an effort, painting elaborate designs on the weathered barn wood using scaffolding, as opposed to the modern billboard murals that are created indoors and mounted later. After many years the mural finally started to peel badly. It needed to be painted over recently, much to the dismay of hundreds of people who had stopped by to admire it.

Mary also enjoyed photography, and loved organic gardening.

Mary is survived by her husband, Gene G. Check of Amherst, WI; her eight siblings: Jean Di Salvo (Phil Goembel) of New Berlin, Ann Di Salvo (Bruce Bayard) Talent, OR, Laura Di Salvo (Gregg Warren) and Ellen (Bob) Kearney both of Stevens Point, Paula (Tom) Lutz of Chicago, IL, Philip J. (Lynn) Di Salvo Jr., Stevens Point, John (Rachel) Di Salvo, Green Bay, WI., and Michael (Kim) Di Salvo of Waukesha; along with numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents.