Joan was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin on March 17, 1931 to parents, Harley and Lydia Hammerschmidt. She grew up in Wisconsin - living in Sheboygan, Johnsonville, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, and then completed high school in Appleton. She sang in the Zion Lutheran choir, where she met a handsome young man, Milton Pirner, just out of the service and wartime duty. She dated him while attending Milwaukee Technical College for Nursing. She graduated as a Licensed Practical Nurse in 1951. She married Milton on December 29, 1951. They had five daughters – in six years! She returned to work in nursing after the girls were in school, ending her nursing career after 25 years at St. Elizabeth hospital.
As the girls moved out and on with school, marriages, and children of their own, she and Milton retired. They rediscovered their life together, and their love for adventures. They routinely travelled the country to explore new places. They began spending their “snow bird” retirement with winters in Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Florida and other warm places. They also spent some summers as the campground hosts at Wisconsin State park campgrounds in Door County, spent time in Alaska, and much time up north in Wisconsin. Joan looked forward to each new adventure, and loved sharing those times with visiting family and friends. But Appleton was always home for her.
Milt and Joan’s five daughters gave them twelve grandchildren - six boys and six girls. And those grandchildren gave them 22 great-grandchildren. and two great-great grandchildren. They spent much of their family time with those grandchildren. Milton died in 2010, which was devastating to her. But Joan maintained her home and welcomed her family’s revolving door of visits and activities. In recent years her health faltered and arthritis overtook her ability to take care of herself or travel at all, so family came to her daily with visits, special foods, parties, and spending time together in her assisted living center. Then COVID changed everything about the way family interactions were able to occur. This was hard and confusing for her. Yet Joan persevered, and was overjoyed when normal routines were resumed and she could see and touch her family again. Her hospice care team at Carolina Manor took exceptional care of her. She died peacefully on August 9, 2023, at age 92 – surrounded by family – and is finally reunited with Milton, her parents, her grandson Tim in Heaven for eternal life.
Joan was preceded in death by her parents, Harley and Lydia (Maertz) Hammerschmidt, her husband, Milton Pirner, and her grandson Tim Tullberg. She is survived by her daughters Billie Garde, Bonnie Tullberg, Linda Bauman and son-in-law Duane; Ellen Tingley, and Carol Schuelke; Grandchildren Tanya Welsh, Deanna Babino, James (Renee) Tullberg, Rebecca Albrecht, Jon (Lori) Wilson, Dean (Lindsey) Baumann, Dale (Andrea) Bauman, Jesse (Ashley)Tingley, Ellie Tingley, Nicky and Jamie Lee Schuelke; great-grandchildren, Elsi, Jack, Jade, William, Lydia, Frances, Alexis, Macey, Evan, Adriana, Ruby, Jenna, Dylan, Perry, Summer, Autumn, Malachi, Mikalya, Autumn, Makalya, Mateo, and Enzo; and great-great grandchildren Charlotte and Jackson.
Service will be on Tuesday, August 15 at 1:00 at the Highland Memorial Park Chapel.