Obituary for Elizabeth R. Howard

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Elizabeth R. Howard, 88, of LaCrosse, WI, passed away Thursday, September 21, 2017, at Gundersen Medical Center, just two and a half hours shy of her 89th birthday. She was born to Walter and Rosina (Hass) Pertzsch of Onalaska, WI on September 28, 1928, joining siblings, Miriam (Draeger), Kenneth, James, Paul, and Myron. All now deceased.
Elizabeth met her husband of 62 years, Ernest L. Howard, at the Avalon Ballroom. They were married St. Paul's Church in Onalaska, WI, on June 19, 1948.
They are survived by a daughter, Sandra (Robert) Helm of McLean, VA, and two sons, Sigurd Howard of Menomonie, WI, and Douglas Howard of Onalaska, WI, two grand children, Justin Howard (Amy Hutt) and their son Luke of Dillon, CO, and a step-son Dominic Howard ( Billie) and their two children Heather and Chandler of Hudson, WI.
Elizabeth enjoyed working outside the home, retiring after 36 years with LaCrosse Footwear. She enjoyed the ladies she met there and continued to see them at luncheons and reunions.
My mother was involved with the Onalaska Historical Society, her church - Trinity Lutheran on the Northside of LaCrosse, enjoyed organizing class reunions with my father, visiting and entertaining friends and family, and helping others in their time of need. She was a busy woman.
On Monday, September 18, my brother Doug picked me up at the airport, and we headed to the Bethany Riverside Nursing Home, where she was a resident in the Lighthouse since November 2016, and well-cared-for I might add, to help feed her dinner. As I stood before her to hug and kiss her I could see she had suffered a stroke while sitting in her wheelchair. The rest is now history.
Elizabeth had been diagnosed with dementia in her mid to late 70's, consequently leading to the dreaded Alzheimer's disease. Prior to that, she was the best wife and caregiver to my father, who had a whole litany of illnesses throughout his life, but now she was the one in need of care.
At my mother's 80th birthday party my brothers and I were reacquainted with a friend and coworker of my mother's by the name Sharon Schrader, the most wonderful, huge-hearted person we were so fortunate to engage. I learned she was now working in home healthcare and asked her to become involved in helping my mother and father in 2009. So when my father died in April 2010, Sharon stepped in to perform a greater role as a wonderful companion and caregiver to my mother. Because we all lived out of town and as her needs increased, Sharon brought Marilyn Viner ( also a LaCrosse Footwear alumni) and Patty Dockham (a classmate of my brother Sig's and still working full-time for the state of Wisconsin) to help out. Sometimes Sharon's sister, Pat Rank would fill in and another friend of Sharon's, Bev Par. I would come every month and a half for a week or so to help and check my mother and my mother-in-law (now 93). Fortunately, I had a loving husband who would miss me while I was here and support me. My brother Doug would come when he could and eventually moved here full-time and my brother Sig, whose wife later died of cancer during this period, would also come and help out.
When my mother was still able to stay somewhat on her own yet, Sharon would leave a note every night for my mother at her place setting, wishing her a "Good Morning, Liz" and reminding her to take her pills and that she would see her around 11:30 to take her for lunch. It always made Sharon smile because she would knock and step inside the door and Liz would be dressed with her coat on and purse in hand and say, " Hi Sharon. Where are we going today?" Sharon, Patty, and Marilyn (who always did her hair) made every day different and exciting for her. They all shared wonderful stories about their lives and the lives of others, told jokes, introduced her to their friends and family, celebrated each other's birthdays together, and above all, showered her with love and attention.
My mother, literally, went from being able to walk, talk, and dress herself one day to needing a wheelchair and her hands crippling in toward her palms the next. Thank God we had my father 's wheelchair and the ramp to the house still in place when this happened. We continued to care for her for at home for about three years before moving her to the nursing home and "the girls" continued to be steadfast in their care for her. Even Marilyn, whose husband died, before we moved mother to the nursing home, stayed the coarse
Their love and commitment to the care of my mother made it possible for all of us live our lives. Their friendships have enriched our lives just as much, if not more so, as that of my mother's. You could not ask for finer people.
My reason for wanting to share her story with you is to let you know what she experienced, not just what she accomplished. She was a "lucky, lucky" person to be surrounded by so many wonderful people coming together at the right time and place in her life that helped her to live her best life possible and to die with dignity and respect. We are very appreciative and grateful to you all, and you know who you are.
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at Dickinson Family Funeral Home, 401 Main Street, Onalaska. Pastor Ted Dewald will officiate and burial will be in Onalaska Cemetery. A visitation will be held from 12:00 p.m. until time of service.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.dickinsonfuneralhomes.com