Fern Schmaltz

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Fern Schmaltz

Fern Schmaltz Fern Scheckel Anderson Schmaltz
A life well lived. On Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, Fern passed from this earth with many of her children and grandchildren at her side.
Fern came into this earth in June of 1928, the fifth born of 10 children, to Clara and Arnold Scheckel. She spent her early childhood playing and working on the Scheckel family farm in Eastman and attended the Dunn School till eighth grade. Fern then moved 'to town,' which was Prairie du Chein, where she lived with a local family as a domestic and attended PDC high school. Upon graduation, she and her younger sister, Phyllis, moved to the 'big city' of La Crosse, to attend college at La Crosse State Teachers College, now UW-L. She boarded with the Johns family for several years and while a student, met and fell in love with a 'local boy' Richard Anderson. They were married in June of 1948, in a double wedding ceremony with her brother, Virgil and his wife, Evelyn. Thus began one of her legacies. In 15 years they had eight children, Barb, Steve, Theresa, Elaine, Kenneth (who died at birth), Louise, Eric and Edie. Even though much of her energies were devoted to marriage and motherhood, she also found time for work, play and her faith.
Fern always had a love and affinity for numbers. She was a tax preparer and book keeper extraordinaire, not only for her own business but also for several local businesses, including the W.T. Grant Co., and lastly Lutheran Hospital in the accounts payable department. The kids remember her teaching them that it was very important to be able to do math in their heads. She also passed her love of learning, which was enhanced by the family World Book Encyclopedias, a costly but well used extravagance at that time.
Fern's Catholic faith remained a lifelong foundation for her and provided her with strength and solace in times of need, such as when she lost her baby, Kenneth, and when her husband, Richard suddenly died at age 48. Her son, Steve thinks she should be a 'saint' mostly for putting up with him! She was an active member of St. Thomas More Parish and then after moving in 1959 to the downtown La Crosse area, St. Joseph the Workman Parish. Fern was a 40-year member of the Cathedral Gallery Singers and had great memories of choir trips to Europe, recording Cd's, choir concerts and singing for Christmas and Holy Week events. She was a church volunteer serving at funeral luncheons, rummage sales and bazaars.
For over 15 years, Fern served as a FSPA Prayer Partner at St. Rose Chapel, where she faithfully prayed for family, friends and community. She even recruited two of her daughters to do the same.
Music has always been important to her in its many forms. She loved old time band music and ballroom dancing. When she worked at Lutheran Hospital, she met her future life and dance partner, Rufus Schmaltz. They married in 1979 and enjoyed dancing until his death in 1998. Both Rufus and Fern were board members of the Concordia Aid Society and were instrumental in working to save the Concordia Ballroom. Again, Fern's affinity for numbers was used as she served as the treasurer for the Society for many years. Together, they also traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Fern had many other interests and missions in her lifetime. She was a Girl Scout Leader, a seamstress who made most of the kid's clothes, family homework supervisor, a league bowler into her 90s, an avid fisher woman, walker and hiker who enjoyed the outdoors and family camping weekends. After she retired, she enjoyed singing with the Variety singers, being a member of the La Crosse County Homemakers and the Luxembourg American Descendants Society. Fern was an avid fan of Wisconsin sports teams. She would devotedly watch games anytime they were playing, especially the Badgers, Packers and Brewers. She was a kind neighbor, caretaker and friend to many.
Recently, when her health went south, she moved to Salzer Square, from her longtime La Crosse home. Although this move was difficult for her, she thoroughly enjoyed socializing with her new friends and neighbors.
Fern is survived by her sisters, Dolores (John) Stern and Charlotte Scheckel. She is further survived by her seven children; seven stepchildren and their families. Her surviving children are Barbara (Dwaine) Smith, Steven (Nancy Whitinger) Anderson, Theresa (Kurt) Wernecke, Elaine Trest, Louise (Gordon) Phetteplace, Eric (Sherry) Anderson and Edith (Tim) Degenhardt. 11 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren with number seven soon. Surviving stepchildren include John (Dorothy) Schmaltz, Steven (Kerry) Schmaltz, Mary (Steve) Deyo, Barb (Ed) Ryan, Jean (John) Henderson and Ruth (Leo) Leis; 21 stepgrandchildren; and 46 stepgreat-grandchildren. Fern is further survived by her sisters-in-law, Beth Scheckel and Bev Scheckel, Fran Noffke, Carole Maurer and June Richardson; her brother-in-law, Vince Sweeney; and many nieces and nephews.
Besides being preceded in death by her two husbands and baby Kenneth, she was also preceded by her parents; brothers, Virgil, Paul and Mark Scheckel; and sisters, Dorothy Ertel, Bea Novak, Janet Marcks and Phyllis Sweeney; sister-in law, Betty Leuhne; and stepson, Daniel Schmaltz; and her dear friend, Ed Carpenter.
The family would like to thank Dr.'s Sheila Momont and Leah Dietrich, their staff and the wonderful Gundersen Hospice Program.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at The Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman, with her nephew, Msgr. Roger Scheckel officiating. Visitation will be one hour before the service at the church, with a reception immediately following in the church Under-croft. Interment will be at a later date.
Schumacher-Kish Funeral Home is assisting the family and online guestbook is available at www. schumacher-kish.com.
Please direct memorials to the Cathedral Gallery Singers; the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration; Paula's Purse through Gundersen Health; the Gundersen Hospice Program; or memorial of donor's choice.
Published on February 3, 2019
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