Joan M. (Abel) Guenther

July 25, 1930 ~ November 4, 2021 (age 91)


Joan Marie Catherine Abel Gorman Imre Guenther was born July 25, 1930, and died November 4, 2021.

In the 1960s, there was a little grocery store on the corner of Main and Fulton called the Market Basket.  I don’t remember if my mother was there to shop, do something for WDUX where she worked or was walking by, but she knew the owner.  As they were talking, he was lowering the awning, and apparently, overnight rain had collected.  Suddenly a deluge rained down upon her, drenching her in an instant.  The shop owner stood aghast for a few seconds before rushing off for towels. My mother burst into unbridled laughter and continued as the poor man tried in vain to dab off the rain.  People who live through hard times either get crushed by the weight of adversity or find a path forward, often through humor.  She just surrendered to the moment, not worrying about her wet clothes, her flattened hair, or the upset of going home to change clothes.  It was just funny to her. That was the Joan Imre everybody knew.
Few knew her story, and it won’t be told here, as it could fill a book.  She was a pretty private person, more interested in others’ stories, the happenings of life, a good movie, a new book, a crossword puzzle, Johnny Carson, the Packers, and her church, the parish of St. Mary Magdelene.  She was blessed with a beautiful soprano voice that soared with joy in numerous church choirs.

Her keen mind and sense of humor served her well.  She was born in the depression and lived her early life in New London. Having been widowed at 26, Joan remarried two more times and raised one child, Susan Gorman Imre Eiler.  She would move 23 times, survive a catastrophic barn fire, work all her life as either a secretary, and, in the middle and later years, operate restaurants with her husband Steve.

She was a force of joy, determined to do her absolute best, and was such a devoted Catholic.  She traveled the world with her Catholic group, taking in a safari in Africa, climbing the great wall of China, riding a camel in Dubai, petting kangaroos in Australia, attending mass at the Vatican with the Pope, hiking Machu Picchu, touring Europe more than once, marveling at fiords in Norway, the Russian arts at the Hermitage, and seeing most of America.  That’s not bad for a poor little girl from New London.

Her last twenty plus years were in the wonderfully supportive community of Willard, WI, but sadly, her mind deteriorated and she needed constant care.  With the help of Synergy and Theda Care At-Home Hospice, she was able to spend her final 14 months of life overlooking a small peaceful lake in Waupaca, WI, with her loving family.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Aaron and Alvira Abel Hidde, husbands Clair Gorman, Steve Imre, William Guenther, two brothers William (Delores) and infant Jackie, sister-in-law Ethel (Francis) Rooyakker, brother-in-law John Imre and Warren Lowney.  She is survived by her daughter Sue, beloved son-in-law Arpad, sister-in-law Irene Lowney, brother-in-law Mark Gorman and wife Lorrita, numerous nieces and nephews.   A private memorial service will be held at a later date, and a funeral mass at Holy Family Catholic Church in Willard, WI will be held, burial next to Steve Imre at the church cemetery.


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