Jeanette “Jean” Hudziak, of Wild Rose, age 88, passed away peacefully Sunday, February 26, after a long and brave battle with cancer.
She was born August 6, 1934, in Weyauwega, Wisconsin, the youngest of five daughters of Loretta (Wenzel) (Shanklin) Kiekhafer and Arnold Koplien.
Jeanette graduated from Amherst High School. She married Norman Hudziak on June 5, 1954, at St. John Catholic Church in Heffron, Wisconsin. They lived in rural Wild Rose all their married life and spent many years as snowbirds in the desert southwest, as well as traveling to Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii.
Norm and Jean were small business people. They operated the Midway Tap Tavern and the Variety Store in Wild Rose, later purchasing a few acres of land to farm cucumbers. It grew to become over 1,000 acres of farmland creating Hudziak Farms and Hudziak Trucking.
From the beginning, Jean was an integral part of the family business, doing all the office work and fielding phone calls. She never retired and was the head of the business at her death.
Jean was friendly and outgoing and would strike up conversations with anyone, including many of her caregivers at her chemo treatments. Her smiles and laughs were legendary, and she had a way of instantly putting people at ease. Jean was like a second mom to many, welcoming them as family, without judgement. She loved to bake and would send the most wonderful care packages with more than enough to share.
Nana loved going out to eat. Nearly each Sunday after church, she and three generations of her family would ask, “Where are we eating today?” Her response: “Anywhere, as long as I don’t have to cook.” There, she would catch up on her family’s activities over a cup of hot coffee (it HAD to be hot!) and soup (but not too thick!).
She loved shopping. Annual family Christmas shopping in Appleton, deer hunting weekend craft shopping with “the girls” and the annual pilgrimage to Cranberry Fest each September in Warrens were the highlights.
Nana loved to celebrate birthdays. Going to dinner with family and having an amazing cake were essential. She always sent cards, but at milestone birthdays her tradition was to send numerous cards corresponding to the age of the person (she got 85 cards on her 85th birthday).
Jean was the very definition of a matriarch. Despite her gentle manner, there was no doubt that she was in charge. Her whole family looked to her for guidance. Whenever there was a problem, Nana would be there with love, support and advice. Her love of family knew no bounds. In fact, her last words were about how lucky she was to have such a wonderful family. In turn, we were so lucky to have such a wonderful, loving, beautiful woman as a sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. She exemplified a life well-lived. Our loss is deep, but we are grateful that she is out of pain and at peace.
Jean is survived by her daughters Sharon Lorenz, Wild Rose, and Lee Ann (Tom) Lella, Wausau; granddaughter Rebecca (Taj) Schumacher, Wautoma; grandson Michael Lella; great-grandchildren Dexter and Amara Schumacher; and a sister, Bea Anderson, Minocqua. She is further survived by many nieces, nephews and friends, including close family friend June Holiday, and her special dog, Coco.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband Norman; and her sisters Lois Berto, Ruby Huntoon, and Carol Leu.
The family thanks June Holiday for her devotion in Jean’s final days, as well as ProMedica Hospice and ThedaCare Oncology.
The family welcomes friends and family on Monday, March 6, from 4pm-7pm at Maple Crest Funeral Home in Waupaca. In the sure and certain hope in the resurrection, the funeral liturgy will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 7, at 11am at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, 8611 Hwy 54, Almond, with visitation from 10 am The Revs. Tom Lindner will preside.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established.