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Judith Ann Derocher passed from this world to her next life in spirit on March 20, 2021. Judy’s long-held wish was to return to God and to her beloved, late husband, Peter. Her wish was realized through a relatively quick and peaceful passing at home, with loved ones surrounding her.
Judy was born in Oconto, Wisconsin on August 12, 1940, the second of five children. She attended Oshkosh Teachers College (now University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh) and became an English teacher. She guided high school and junior high school students in their learning of grammar, composition and (her favorite), English and American literature. As a teacher in both Michigan and Wisconsin, she also directed school plays including Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.
In the late 1970s, Judy returned to UW-Oshkosh to receive a Masters degree in counseling. Her thesis reflected her area of interest: death and dying. She served for several years as Director of Pastoral Care at Holy Family Hospital in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. While there, she guided many Catholic and lay counselors who supported families with loved ones who were ill or dying.
Judy’s volunteer work included over 20 years of delivering Meals on Wheels. She donated time and talents to Leaven, a social-services organization based in Menasha, Wisconsin. She also tutored students in their English studies, both in Wisconsin and while snow-birding in Florida during several winters. In more recent years, Judy volunteered through local hospice to visit terminally ill people, listening and serving as a caring companion.
In her retirement, Judy loved playing duplicate bridge for over 30 years with her sister Sue and a dedicated group of their girlfriends. She enjoyed attending plays and concerts at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Judy also relished simple pleasures: walking in Neenah’s Riverside Park, finishing a tough crossword puzzle, savoring a great meal at a restaurant, talking with dear friends, and enjoying the view and nature’s activity outside her lakeside home. She and Peter were happy and proud to contribute to the creation of the Trestle Trail, a railroad bed converted to a paved walking and biking trail, near their home.
Among her close friends and family, Judy will be remembered fondly for her frequent, hearty and infectious laughter. She was funny and enjoyed humor immensely. She would want all who loved her to remember her in joy, knowing she is at peace and at Home now.
Judy was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 51 years, Peter; parents, Harold and Florence Harstad; and sisters Mary Osmussen and Patricia Harstad. She is survived by many cherished family members: children Laura and Andrew Derocher; sister Susan Bero (James); brother Thomas Harstad (Vicki); nearly four dozen nieces and nephews; and the hundreds of children, grand-children, and great-grand-children of all those family members.
The family wishes to thank the caring and experienced staffs at St. Elizabeth Hospital and Compassus Home Hospice who helped immensely in Judy’s final days.
Due to COVID protection measures, a small, by invitation-only service will be held May 2, 2021 at Wichmann Funeral Home in Appleton, Wisconsin. While the service will be by invitation only, loved ones can view the service via livestream that afternoon beginning at 2:00pm Central Time. A video recording of the service, plus a video montage of photos, will be available for viewing afterward on this page.
May 2 will be the seventh anniversary of Peter’s passing, so we will toast their reunion in addition to celebrating Judy’s life.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to your local food bank, leavenfoxcities.org or feedingamerica.org. Peace, love and blessings to all.
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