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JoAnn’s Story

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JoAnn Kurtz Welling passed away gracefully and peacefully on November 14, 2012, ending her valiant battle against lung cancer. She was surrounded by friends and family.

Jo’s adventurous and loving spirit was an inspiration to everyone around her.  She approached life with youthful energy, taking up whitewater canoeing and oil painting well into her 60s, and travelling all over the world up until the last months of her life.  

Born on July 26, 1935, Jo spent her adventurous and mischievous childhood on the family farm in Kanawha, Iowa. She was active in 4H, loved riding horses, and was a star player on her high school basketball team. She left home to get her nursing degree at Iowa State University, spent several months travelling in Europe with her nursing school classmates, and returned to Chicago where she married Erich Welling on January 29, 1960.  They raised their three sons in Glenview, IL.  At the same time, she continued her education at Elmhurst College, and worked as a psychiatric nurse. Jo and Erich divorced in 1985. After her retirement, Jo moved to Amherst, Wisconsin, where her son, BJ, together with family and friends built her house.  She transformed her home into a vibrant, peaceful oasis for massage therapy, and for countless potlucks and parties with her ever-growing family of friends from the local community, and from the Central Wisconsin Network. Jo was a lifelong political activist, a prolific and talented artist, a beloved social organizer, and was Grandma Jo to many beyond her own children.  She traveled all over the United States, to Europe, Australia, Ecuador, Peru, and India to volunteer, visit her grandchildren, and explore with dear friends. She found inspiration in retreats to see the Dalai Lama, continuing education in Massage Therapy at Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA, and in her children and grandchildren, who inherited her adventurous spirit.

Jo lived life with abandon.  Her warmth and enthusiasm were contagious. Her friends and family were blessed to be able to join her for the party of a lifetime the weekend before her passing, where over 200 people gathered to celebrate her life and share a last dance.  Her memory will live on as an inspiration to us all.  We will miss her smiling eyes.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Willis & Bessie Kurtz.
She is survived by her former husband of 25 years, Erich Welling, her two brothers, Daryl (Ronna) Kurtz and Larry (Carlynn) Kurtz; her three sons, Tom Welling, BJ (Carol) Welling and Brent (Nancy) Welling; and her three grandchildren, Orian Welling, Ariel Welling and Madelyn Welling.

A Memorial service will be held on Saturday December 15th from 2pm to 5pm, with a ceremony at 4pm, at the West Lodge in Lake Emily County Park near Amherst Junction, WI. 

Condolences may be mailed to BJ & Carol Welling, 247 Edgewood Rd.  Custer, WI 54423

Grandma Jo, what a babe.