Joyce (Connor) Bethke, age 98, of Monona died peacefully at Heritage Manor on Friday, February 10, 2023.
Joyce was born on July 1, 1924, to Rueben and Joyce Connor in Marshfield, WI. Joyce grew up in Auburndale, WI in a lively household with two brothers and four sisters. She graduated from Auburndale High School and from UW-Stevens Point with an education degree. She taught biology for one year in Neillsville, WI, disappointing her students by not being frightened by the frog they hid in her desk.
Joyce married William "Bill" Bethke on July 18, 1945 in Auburndale when he returned from World War II service. They enjoyed a short honeymoon in Chicago, including attending the musical Carousel, before Bill returned to army service in North Carolina. They welcomed a son, William, in September 1947.
After the service, Bill returned to Wisconsin to work for the Wisconsin Bell telephone company. Bill's work moved the family to several cities throughout Wisconsin and Joyce made them a home in each new place. Joyce was active as a Boy Scout leader, Red Cross volunteer, at church and regularly welcomed her nieces and nephews into their home. Bill and Joyce settled in Monona in 1961 and became members of Lake Edge UCC Church.
In 1954 Bill and Joyce purchased a cottage in Rhinelander, which was Joyce's happy place. An avid fisherwoman, Joyce was often seen on the pier patiently fishing while the rest of the family took out the boat. Joyce regularly caught the largest fish of the day, never completely giving away her secrets.
Joyce enjoyed traveling, games, nature and spending time with her family. She loved to laugh, tell stories and cared deeply for her friends and family, making everyone feel loved and appreciated. She will be dearly missed.
Joyce was preceded in death by her parents Reuben and Joyce Connor; brothers Craig and Roger Connor; sisters Gene McGuire, Rebecca "Betty" Gilson, Mary Taylor, and Sarah Connor; bothers-in-law Jim McGuire, Gene Taylor, and Warren Gilson; nephew Jim McGuire and niece Rebecca (Becky) Sukanen.
She is survived by her husband, Bill Bethke: son Bill (Elaine) Bethke; granddaughters Ericka (Chad) Nelson, Jenny (Joe) Bochar, and Emily (Dan) Gruenewald; great-grandchildren Jack Bochar, Sophie, and Ali Gruenewald; sister-in-law Ruth Connor; and many special nieces, nephews and their families.
A visitation will be held Saturday, March 18 at 10 am followed by a memorial service at 11 am and luncheon at Lake Edge UCC Church, 4200 Buckeye Rd, Madison.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Agrace Hospice or Lake Edge UCC's scholarship fund.
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