Obituary for Ellen L. Funk

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Ellen Lyga Funk passed away Friday, February 2, 2018, at Gundersen hospital in La Crosse after spending her final week surrounded by her large and loving family. Mom passed peacefully with a full and wonderful life behind her. She received comforting and supportive care during her last days and the family is grateful to the staffs at Eagle Crest North and Gundersen Health System.
Mom was born to Katheryne and Paul Lyga on February 10, 1927,in La Crosse. She graduated from Aquinas High School in La Crosse and completed her education at the University of Iowa where she received a BS degree in physical education.
After two years of teaching in LaSalle, IL, she married her high school beau, Henry “Hank” Funk. She and Dad started their family in South Bend, IN, where Henry Jr. was born and soon moved to Newburgh, NY, where Michael (Maureen) was born. After their move back to La Crosse in 1953, five more children filled the house: Peter (Sherry), Susan (Wood), Barbara (Greg), Stephen John and Joseph (Patty). Ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren were added to the mix as the decades unfolded.
Mom ran her household as one would expect from a former gym teacher. We were a competitive bunch and she channeled our energy into umpteen sports, activities and lessons. She whipped many a Boy Scout and Girl Scout troop into shape. There were river camping trips, front yard touch football games, and basement ping pong tournaments. And, once the grandchildren became her focus, she and Dad held the annual, and often contentious, Funk Olympics at their treasured cottage on Lake Namekagon.
But, Mom’s most valued gifts to us went far beyond the fun and games. Her passion for education, books, and travel ignited the same in all of us and she loved following the academic and globetrotting pursuits of her grandchildren. And, while she was a woman of strong opinions, she treated people with respect and generosity; we were taught to do the same and “gently” reprimanded when we didn’t. She expected our best and had little sympathy for excuses, without ever withdrawing her love and support.
Despite Mom’s devotion to her three generations of offspring, her greatest love was reserved for Dad. Their marriage was beautiful, respectful, fun, and supportive and perhaps their greatest gift to all of us.
Mom was preceded in death by her beloved Hank; her parents; two sisters, Pat and Kate; and a great granddaughter, Natalia. She is survived by her seven children and their partners; ten grandchildren: Athena (Josh), Joe (Paloma), Ginger (Marek), Matt (Amy), Samantha (David), Gretchen, Dani (Garin), Peter (Renee), Tsergio and Taylor; and five great grandchildren: Maddie, Zula, Beckett, Miles and Ellen. She is also survived by her two brothers, Paul (Pat) and Mike (Peg), and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, February 9 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 130 Losey Blvd, La Crosse. Fr.Matthew Marshall will officiate and burial will follow at Catholic Cemetery, La Crosse. Family and friends may visit from 10:00 a.m. until the time of Mass Friday at the church.
Dickinson Family Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be made at
In lieu of flowers or gifts, memorial donations may be made to the Ellen and Henry Funk Fund at the La Crosse Community Foundation (, the Gundersen Medical Foundation (, or the Aquinas Catholic Schools Foundation (