Jeannine R. Eckels, age 88, passed away peacefully, with family by her bedside, on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at ThedaCare Medical Center—Wild Rose. She was born on April 23, 1930 to parents Arthur L. and Mollie M. (Wenzlick) Lindahl in Oak Park, IL.
On May 10, 1947 she married Forest C. Eckels in Merrill, WI and together they shared 39 years of marriage before Forest passed away on December 4, 1986.
Jeannine and Forest started their married life residing in Wausau, where Forest was employed by Northern Auto Supply Co. In 1959, they moved their family of five to Wautoma, where Forest was promoted to manager/operator of the newly-built branch store. Throughout her married life in Wautoma, Jeannine worked as a certified nursing assistant, first in a Wautoma nursing home, and later at the Wisconsin Veterans Home in King until she retired at age 60 in 1990. Jeannine had a strong work ethic and worked hard to help make her family’s life a good one. She was a caring and compassionate nursing assistant and often reached out to the less fortunate in the community.
In her younger years, Jeannine and Forest loved to enter dance contests and won many of them. She also loved to swim and ice skate. As a child, she was a big fan of Norwegian Olympic figure skater Sonja Henie. She also liked to sing and dance like her idol, child film star Shirley Temple. She was a lifelong Packers fan and loved watching the games with her family, especially after she retired. When her children were little, she created the best Easter baskets, overflowing with goodies and she loved sewing Easter clothing for her kids. She loved crocheting afghans, baby clothes, and baptismal gowns for her grandchildren, enthusiastically sharing patterns and designs with her daughter-in-law, Cindy; going to garage sales, on the hunt for the most “unique” coffee mugs for her collection; and baking cookies and other goodies with her grandchildren. Most of all, she loved her family and enjoyed spending time with them.
She always loved the Christmas holidays; however, the family could not put gifts for her under the tree early as her curiosity would get the best of her and she was known to “peek” from time to time before Christmas Day. She always told the story of getting a card of bobby pins for Christmas as a child during the Depression, and as a result, she was always very generous with gifts “from Santa.” For Christmas dinner, she always made lime/pineapple jello in a mould pan, which the family called “green mold” to tease her. It has become a family tradition to always make “green mold” for family Christmas get-togethers.
Due to health problems, Jeannine moved into Silver Lake Manor in Wautoma in 2003. She enjoyed the activity program, especially when musical groups would entertain at the facility. She had a good sense of humor and would enjoy teasing and laughing with her caregivers. She loved chocolate and was generous with it, sharing it with her visitors and staff. She looked forward to the staff bringing their children to trick-or-treat so she could give them candy and show them her collection of musical/dancing snowmen, dogs, teddy bears, etc. She also loved winning Bingo prizes, especially chocolate bars.
Jeannine is survived by her three children: Sharilyn “Sherry” (Nolan) Kelley, Wautoma; son Steven (Sue) Eckels, Eureka, MT; and son Thomas (Carol) Eckels, Nekoosa; six grandchildren Molly Hardt, Los Angeles, CA; Adam Kelley, Wautoma; Ryan (Cody Coon) Eckels, Sheboygan; Shannon (Aaron Karnatz) Eckels, Stevens Point; David Eckels, Baraboo; Laura (Hans) Cys, Greenfield; five great-grandchildren: Skylar Hardt, Quinn and Milo Karnatz, and Olivia and Jacobus “Coby” Cys. She is further survived by her sister-in-law Barbara Ames, Kalispell, MT, nieces and nephews, cousins, and other family.
She was preceded in death by her parents and stepfather William “Bing” Bacher, husband Forest, father-in-law and mother-in-law William “Clair” and Alice Eckels, brother James Lindahl, sister Doris and brother-in-law Eugene Degner, sister Valeria and brother-in-law George Mahn, sister-in-law and brother-in-law Phyllis and Guy Barlow, brother-in-law Webster Eckels, daughter-in-law Cindy Engebretson, lifelong friends Arnie and Marge Buchberger, a number of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins, friends, and other family.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 9th at Grace United Methodist Church in Wautoma at 11 a.m. Pastor Raphael Cubilette will officiate. Visitation will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., just prior to the funeral service. Burial will be at the Union Cemetery in Wautoma following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family will be establishing a memorial.
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