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Paul Dean Cernek, 88

Paul Dean Cernek, 88, of Gratiot, died Thursday, January 5 at home in the presence of his loving family. His memorial service was held on Saturday, January 14 at the Gratiot Community Center in Gratiot, Wisconsin. Burial took place in the Gratiot ME Cemetery.

Paul Dean Cernek was born January 13, 1934, to Paul and Florence Weaver Spencer Cernek in Lacrosse, Indiana. Paul spent his childhood years in Chesterton, Indiana where his parents instilled in him a love for God and farming. At age 16, Paul, known as Dean, went forward with his dad during an altar call and committed his life to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. After high school he attended Moody Bible Institute for one year. He then married his high school sweetheart Janey, and together they raised eight children: Stephen (Shelia); Dean (Kris); Peter (Deb); Kevin (Cindy); John (Gloria); Scott (Cathy); Benjamin (Jessica); and Robyn Wetzel (Scott). Dean and Jane have a legacy of 31 grandchildren and 58 great-grandchildren with twins expected to arrive in August.

From an early age Dean loved farming. He first started in high school when he and his dad purchased a 1949 Ford 8N tractor with all the attachments. They plowed and planted every small patch of land they could find. After getting married, he and Janey traveled to South Carolina and Georgia where Dean served in the United States Army for two years. Upon returning to Indiana, they bought out a generous and helpful farmer friend’s line of equipment for $3000 and began a life of farming and raising their soon-to-be eight children. They both were committed to the Lord and laid a Biblical foundation under the lives of all their children. Remembering their honeymoon in Wisconsin, In 1972 they realized their life-long dream of purchasing a dairy farm in that beautiful state and have resided there ever since. They invested their lives in serving God through Gratiot Evangelical Free Church where God’s Word has been faithfully taught and nurtured in the lives of those in their community for almost 50 years. God has blessed Dean beyond what words can describe.

Dean and Jane’s house has always been a hub of activity with their children, grandchildren and great grands coming and going continuously. There is always a warm meal on the table, a fire in the wood stove, and laughter and love abundant is experienced by all. Dean and Jane invested their lives in many others outside the family as well. Everyone was welcome and wanted whether family or stranger. If you came hungry, you left full. If you came searching, you left with the message of God’s love and hope and a way to peace with Him if you would give Him your heart.

Dean and Jane were committed for a number of years to a Christian organization called “The Voice of the Martyrs” where they traveled extensively throughout the Midwest presenting the need for prayer and intervention on the part of Christians being persecuted around the world. At age 78, Dean adventured to South America, where he distributed Bibles and Christian literature. He also traveled to Romania doing mission work with the Fellowship of Christian Farmers Organization. Other than buying his own dairy farm and paying the mortgage off early, raising eight children and entertaining and influencing 91 grandchildren and great-grands, that’s about as exciting as his life got!

Dean is survived by his wife of 69 years, Jane; his seven sons and daughter and their spouses, his grandchildren and great-grands, and countless others who became part of the family over his lifetime through friendship and love. He is also survived by his sister, Phyllis from Cody, Wyoming and her four children. He was preceded in death by his parents, four brothers and one sister, his close brother in law Gene Borman, his granddaughter Staci, and great-grandson, Christian. God poured out His blessings on our Dad and he never ceased to humbly give thanks to His loving Creator who gave him meaning and purpose each and every day of his earthly life. Now he is rejoicing with the angels in glory!

The Erickson Funeral Home in Darlington, Wisconsin is serving the family. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at http://www.ericksonfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund has been established in Dean’s name.

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15). Rest in peace Dad. We love you.


Michael Joseph Kirk, 65

Michael Joseph Kirk, age 65, of Elizabeth, Illinois passed away Saturday, January 7, 2023 at home in the loving care of his family with the support of Hospice of Dubuque. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, January 28, 2023, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Elizabeth. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service from 10 – 11 a.m. at the Church. A luncheon will follow. Memorials may be made in Mike’s honor for Hospice of Dubuque, Elizabeth Ambulance Association, and for the benefit of the Quenten L. “Wally” Van Raalte family.

Michael was born October 20, 1957, in Chicago, the son of Richard and Helen Ann (Ross) Kirk. He attended St. Monica’s Grade School in Chicago and is a 1975 graduate of William Howard Taft High School where he excelled at cross country and swimming. He was recruited to swim at the University of Illinois in Chicago where he attended for two years, then attended Northern Illinois University. After college, Mike became a Carpenter’s Apprentice following in his father’s footsteps.

On June 14, 1980, Mike married Mary Ann Filipiak. They raised two sons, Justin and Dylan, and celebrated forty-two years of marriage. A highlight for Mike was coaching when his sons played little league baseball, and he enjoyed watching them play as they grew older.

Mike worked as a Stationary Fireman for the Chicago Board of Education for eight years. He then worked for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago as an Operating Engineer for twenty-two years before retiring in 2010.

That’s when he and Mary Ann found their dream property in the country near Elizabeth. They raised vegetables, grapes for homemade wine, apples, peaches, and even sheep. Living in the country together was a dream come true. Mike loved the Elizabeth Community, he enjoyed helping at the Elizabeth Fair, Dittmar’s Pumpkin Patch, and spending endless hours visiting with friends and good neighbors. He is described as being generous with his time and talent. Mike was a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Elizabeth.

He will be dearly missed by his wife, Mary Ann of Elizabeth; two sons, Justin (Naomi) Kirk of Glencoe, IL and Dylan (Emily) Kirk of Raleigh, NC; four grandchildren, Sage, Yara, Sedona and Declan; his mother-in-law, Tillie Filipiak of Galena who always called him “my gem,”; three brothers, James (Betty) Kirk of Lemont, IL, Thomas (Christine) Kirk of Downers Grove, IL and Paul (Laura) Kirk of Tower Lakes, IL; and a sister, Rose (Greg) Cotteleer of Arlington Heights, IL; sisters-in-law, Kathy (Joy) Filipiak, Gloria (Gary) Kubik, Sally (John) Filipiak, Pam (James) Filipiak; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by both parents and his father-in-law, Henry Filipiak.


Earle Kenneth Burmeister, 99

Earle Kenneth Burmeister, age 99, of Lanark, IL, passed away January 4, 2023 at Allure Nursing Home, in Mt. Carroll, IL. A funeral service was held at Law Jones Funeral Home, in Lanark, on Saturday, January 14, 2023, at 11 a.m. Visitation took place from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. before the service. Burial followed at Lanark Cemetery.

Earle was born July 5, 1923, in Morrison, IL, the son of John and Bertha (Wickert) Burmeister. He attended Coleda, IL school. Following 8th grade, Earle went to work full time on the family farm, north of Lanark.

In 1945, Earle married Grace Knorr. They raised their family together as they farmed, first on Earle’s family farm, then later establishing a farming business of their own. In 1970, Earle transitioned into a new career, serving as a currier for Certified Freight, for more than 25 years. Even in old age, Earle kept busy as a delivery driver for Sewer Equipment of America, finally fully retiring at the age of 94.

Grace was always the more social one, of the two of them. She played the organ beautifully and would travel to play at supper clubs all around the surrounding areas, with Earle at her side. Sometimes as often as six nights per week, she would play and Earle would enjoy the show and socialize with the many friends they made along the way. After Grace’s passing in 2012, Earle found peace in his little corner of the world, mowing his lawn, tending to his gardens, and fraternizing with his neighbors.

Earle is survived by his daughter, Wendy (Virgil) Swanson, of Lanark; granddaughter, Amy (Kevin) Barnes, of Lanark; grandsons, Ben Swanson of Forreston and Barry Swanson, of Wisconsin; great-granddaughter, Kayla (Curt) Barnes; great-grandsons, Corey (Bobbie) Barnes and Lance Corporal Jacob Swanson; step-great-granddaughter, Laci Gruendler; two great-great-grandsons; and two step-great-great-granddaughters. Earle is preceded in death by his parents, John and Bertha; wife, Grace; daughters, Sheila Massey and Marsha (infant); two half sisters; and a half brother.


Joyce E. Scheider, 94

Joyce E. Scheider, 94, of Lena, IL passed away on Thursday, January 5, 2023 at the Lena Living Center in Lena, IL with her family by her side. Joyce was born on December 5, 1928 to Clarence and Irene (Miller) Barker. She attended McConnell Grade School and graduated from Winslow High School in 1946. Joyce married Donald L. Scheider on June 14, 1946 at the McConnell United Methodist Church.

Joyce was a farmwife, she helped with the farm work, did the gardening, freezing and canning of the fruits and vegetables. Donald and Joyce moved to Lena in 1976. After moving to Lena, Joyce worked at the Lena Nursing Home as the Activity Director. She was a member of the McConnell United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women. Joyce played the piano for over 60 years, sang in the choir, taught Sunday School, and Bible School. She was a member of the McConnell Home Bureau and Waddams Home Extension. She also enjoyed square dancing, playing the piano, playing cards and bowling. Joyce was also a member of the Friendship Club of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church serving as the president and vice president. She also was a 4-H Leader and Cub Scouts leader. She loved limburger cheese and Werther’s Original caramels.

Joyce was a great cook; she made homemade noodles and potato salad, and baked apple pies, among many other family favorites. She enjoyed spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Joyce is survived by her children; Judy Rampenthal, Debbie (Jeff Frende) Vrstal, and Steve (Sue) Scheider, all of Lena, daughter-in-law; Janice Scheider, eight grandchildren; Matthew (Brittany Miller) Rampenthal, Brandon (Christy) Scheider, Chad Scheider, Angie (Jorge) Diaz, Chris (Tiffany) Scheider, Shayna (Scott) Lincoln, Lindsey (Dan) Yoder, and Nick (Chivone Olson) Vrstal, 17 great-grandchldren; Miller, Weston, Nick, Caelan, Cambry, Addie (Oliver), Micah, Carson, Araceli, Audrey, Vivian, Brycen, Macyn, Kiah (Daniel) Jack, Max, and Blake, her brother; Merlyn (Betty) Barker and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Donald, her son Terry Scheider, son-in-law David Rampethal, grandson Eric Scheider, brother Clarence (Carol) Barker, and sister Dorothy (Robert) Donovan.

Funeral services were held at 10:30 AM on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at the McConnell United Methodist Church. A visitation was from 9:00 AM until time of services on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at the church. Pastor Doug Carroll officiated the services. Burial will be at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. A luncheon followed the burial at the church.

A memorial has been established in her memory. Condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.leamonfh.com.


Nina M. Sheetz, 98

Nina M. Sheetz, 98, of Freeport, IL died peacefully on Friday, December 30, 2022 at Oakley Courts Assisted Living surrounded by family.

She was born on October 9, 1924 to Winfield and Lucille (Hermann) Hall of Stockton. Nina and Bill Sheetz were married on September 9, 1944 and farmed in Stockton until their retirement.

Nina was a long-time member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Stockton where she was a church organist for 60 plus years and accompanied Bill’s singing for numerous funerals and weddings throughout their 64 year marriage. Nina was also a member of Eastern Star.

She was an avid reader and loved jigsaw and word puzzles, quilting and other needle work, and above all, spending time with her family.

Nina is survived by her three children; Mary Lynn (Gary) Groezinger of Stockton, Milt (Debbie) Sheetz of Yucaipa, CA., and Ellen Sheetz (Bev Miller) of South Dennis, MA., four grandchildren; Marci (Kevin) Schubert of Stockton, Becki (Stewart) Baker of Freeport, Christopher Sheetz of Yucaipa, CA and Brianna (Jordan) Hazell of Sacramento, CA .; three great grandchildren; Sydni Schubert (fiancé Dylan Pulvermacher) of Stockton, Lauryn Schubert of Rock Island, and Annalise Sheetz of Yucaipa; and two great-great grandchildren, Cecelia and Violet of Stockton.

Memorial funds have been established for Oakley Courts Assisted Living, FHN Hospice, or a charity of your choice.

A Celebration of Life service will be held late Spring of 2023.


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