Sunday, July 25, 2004

Obituary: Iona Mae (Wheelock) Swetmore Weitzel - Class of 1943

WAUNAKEE - Iona Mae Wheelock Swetmore Weitzel, age 79, died peacefully on Thursday, July 22, 2004, surrounded by family, at her home in Waunakee. She was born on Monday, May 4, 1925, at Madison General Hospital in Madison, to Hazel M. (Bewick) and Harvey E. Wheelock. She was married to Benjamin Swetmore in the mid 1940s, and later to Raymond Weitzel in 1955, both preceding her in death; circa 1980s and 1991, respectively. Mrs. Weitzel is survived by her seven wonderful children and their spouses, whom she all adored, Mrs. Judith R. (Anthony R.) Newfield of W. Hartford, Conn., Mrs. Christine M. (Steven F. - deceased) Trotter of Exeter, Mo., Mr. John A. Weitzel of DeForest, Mr. James R. Weitzel and his wife, Judy of Waunakee, Mr. Raymond W. Weitzel and his wife, Judy of Marshall, Mrs. Debra J. (Charles J.) Washa of Black Earth, and Mrs. Roxana R. (Darrell D.) Calkins of St. James, Minn. Surviving her also are her 13 precious grandchildren, Janice, age 37, Felicity, age 35, Derek, age 34, Damian, age 32, Cosmas, age 27, Liza, age 27, Jason, age 24, Joshua, age 24, Titus, age 23, Louise, age 21, Katie, age 18, Angelina, age 13, and Colton, age 9; and lastly, her youngest living legacy, four great-grandchildren, Connor, age 9, Taylor, age 7, Elizabeth, age 6, and infant boy, Kain, and a December 2004 expected great-grandson. In addition, Mrs. Weitzel leaves three of her four cherished sisters, Mrs. Alice (Elmer) Thaden of Lodi, Mrs. Clara (Spence) Erickson of Pardeeville, and Mrs. Ruth Norwood of Colorado Springs, Colo., and predeceased by her younger sister, Mrs. Joyce Thompson of Madison. A shy, naturally gifted academician, Mrs. Weitzel began her education at the spectacularly architectural Lincoln Elementary School on Gorham Street in Madison. Growing happily through childhood with good grades, playing jacks, marbles, hopscotch, jumping rope and roller skating with her sisters; she was marred only at age 9, by the early death of her dear father. Graduating from Madison Central High School in 1943, impacted, along with all young people, by the affects of World War II, Mrs. Weitzel landed her first of many jobs; working at Montgomery Wards, where she met her first husband. She soon advanced to managing the personnel and payroll department at the Gisholt Machine Co. on East Washington Avenue in Madison. Eventually switching gears, in 1956, she took her city-girl self and with her second husband and four children in tow, enthusiastically embarked on the new adventure of farming in Baraboo. Acclaimed for her abundant canning and freezing vegetable garden, adding two more children to her family; one of whom was almost born on a haying tractor. Taking accordion lessons and sewing up a storm, Mrs. Weitzel unknowingly redefined multi-tasking; honing her many talents alongside her gently-voiced common sense and ever present, fair humor. Moving her clan in 1961, to the even more challenging Reynolds Farm in Waunakee, she was a quietly competitive groundbreaker for the woman's movement and easily re-entered the managerial workforce at Strauss Printing in Madison. In 1962, she gave birth to her last beautiful baby girl. Her professional career was cut short when, at age 66, she was struck and thrown through the air by a moving vehicle, operated by a physician, as Mrs. Weitzel was walking to her office at Davis Duehr on Regent Street in Madison. Surviving this, she went on 13 more years, visiting, living with and caring for whomever of her seven children needed her. These children wishing to express how much they all love her and that she will be in their hearts forever. Also, they fondly recount her love of music, reading, dancing, bowling, cribbage, solitaire, avid crossword puzzling, her enjoyment of fish fries with friends and family, and in her later years, the treasured companionship of her dog, Sho-Mi. As per Mrs. Weitzel's last wishes, her memorial services will be privately held by close friends and family, remembering her radiant smile, her reassuring voice, her constant courage, her comforting hugs and kisses, and always imaging the good in everyone. Her ashes will be dispersed amongst her children and she requested that any condolences be sent to her children of the donor's choice.

Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on July 25, 2004

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