Mercer, Wis. – On Thursday, June 22, Joan (Papenfuss) Mueller-Ouimette passed away surrounded by her loving family after a long illness.
Joan was born in Sheboygan, Wis., to Otto F. and Sophia M. (Alt) Papenfuss, on July 19, 1937. Joan graduated from Central High School in 1955 and went on to study cosmetology at The Harper Method Beauty School in Madison, Wis, receiving her certificate of graduation in the summer of 1956. Joan then embarked with a girlfriend on a cross-country trip to Los Angeles, where she lived for a few years before returning home to Sheboygan.
On July 16, 1960, Joan married Roger O. Mueller, where they made their home in Sheboygan and raised their three children, Robin, Eric, and Heidi. From their honeymoon destination to yearly summer family vacations, most were spent in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, primarily in the Mercer area. They loved the abundance of nature and laid-back lifestyle of this idyllic area and during one of those yearly trips, Joan and Roger purchased some land outside of Mercer on Catherine Lake as they looked towards the future. In August of 1980, they decided to make the leap and moved from Sheboygan with their youngest daughter, Heidi, to start their next chapter in life. It is here they built their final home and where they resided together until Roger’s unexpected passing on January 17, 1996.
On August 2, 1997, Joan married Victor R. Ouimette. Joan and Vic enjoyed a wonderful life together, filled with family and good friends. Both loved to entertain and to travel, having the opportunity to visit many locations – both nationally and internationally. They were also very involved in their church and the Mercer community with Joan being active in a variety of organizations including Mercer Garden Club, Jack Frost & Company Craft Group, and Woolies.
Joan found life a true pleasure, making her forever young. She was blessed with a clever wit and love for fun that was laced with just the right dose of sass and keen sense of humor that made people want to be around her. Joan’s thousand-watt smile was only surpassed by her easy, spontaneous laugh that simply filled a room. She turned acquaintances into friends at every turn during her life, cherishing and holding close even those relationships she made at a very young age. All her friends were very important and meaningful to her, with many checking on her and by her side lovingly until the end, something that meant so much to her, as well as being a great comfort to her.
Joan was a wonderful mother who cared for and treasured her family in a deep and sincere way that will be missed so much. She was happiest when surrounded by them, especially when her grandchildren and then great-grandchildren arrived, making her life all that much fuller. A keeper and lover of all holidays, Joan enjoyed each event and every celebration with a childlike enthusiasm that never dimmed and was always contagious, looking at life in the most positive light and finding joy in the simplest things.
Forever a student at heart, no matter her age or the subject at hand, Joan was innately curious about the world around her. Her talents were abundant as a multi-disciplinary artist, gifted cook, skilled baker, and gardener extraordinaire.
Called by some of her grandchildren as “Crafty Grandma,” Joan began exploring her abilities in the world of art over 50 years ago, participating in local area craft events and taking art courses before she began her own business, Crafty Creations, in the mid-1980s. It was then that Joan broadened her scope by seeking out and attending juried shows throughout the United States building upon her love of art by expressing herself through oils, doll-making, wool penny rugs, and a wide range of holiday-themed art, such as hand-crafted Santa figures, ornaments, music boxes and other seasonal pieces.
She also took courses in cake and cookie decoration with many of her culinary works being the centerpiece of weddings, anniversaries, and showers – as well as these artful treats being sold later at the annual Jack Frost Craft Show in Minocqua, Wis. – usually the dozens upon dozens of confectionaries selling out opening day! Her creativity literally knew no bounds and there was no subject that did not catch her interest nor that she did not ultimately master.
Joan honed her green thumb from a young age by helping her mother with her gardens every summer and then tending to her own ever since. For years, Joan and Vic planned the gardens surrounding the home in a fragrant mix of flowers and vegetables and were honored to be one of the featured residences in the 2014 Woods & Blooms Garden Tour. Joan also was known for her extraordinary ‘Fairy Gardens,’ designing the miniature garden environments personalized by special touches she found during her many haunts through flea sales, not-for-profit and consignment shops. The results were always magical, with Joan being quite honored when in 2016, she was asked by a local florist to professionally teach Fairy Garden-making classes, something she enjoyed greatly.
Joan is survived by her three loving children, Robin (David) Richter of Sheboygan; Eric (Madeline Huelster) Mueller of St. Paul; and Heidi (James) Derbick of Sturgeon Bay; her sister, Doris (Paul) Shalenko; her cousins, Janet Neese (Sun City West, AZ); John (Kiyoko) Neese (Sun City West, AZ); her husband Victor; his children Nate (Carin) Ouimette; Michael (Michelle Nickles) Ouimette; Charles (Aimee) Ouimette; and Rebecca (Brad Arneson) Ouimette; grandchildren: Philip Mueller, Emma Mueller, and Sam Huelster Steele (St. Paul); Jessica (Joshua) Maccoux (Kewaunee), Joshua Derbick (Green Bay), and Jacob Derbick (Sturgeon Bay); Dylan Ouimette, Noah Ouimette, Sierra Ouimette, Logan Ouimette, Jenna Gore, and Lynda Hagen; and great grandchildren: Noah Maccoux, Owen Maccoux, and Baby Maccoux (Kewaunee); Violet Hagen, David Hagen, Sophia Hagen, Nate Hagen, Lillian Gore, and Winter Gore; and other nieces, nephews, and relatives.
Beyond her first husband, Roger, and her parents, Joan is also preceded in death by her brother, Ronald (Mitzi) Papenfuss, and brothers-in-law, Paul (Doris) Shalenko and Michael O. Mueller, as well as other relatives.
The family would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. David A. Polomis, Amy Koeling, PA-C, and ‘Nurse Julie’, RN, in the Pulmonology Department, Minocqua, for all the kindnesses and compassion they showed Joan during her illness.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations to Manitowish Waters Community Presbyterian Church (MWCPC) Christian Education Program (Youth Group).
The Nimsgern Funeral & Cremation Services are helping the family with arrangements. Online condolences can be expressed by visiting ww.nimsgernfuneral.com
Funeral services for Joan will be held at the Manitowish Waters Community Church, 13883 Marathon Road, Manitowish Waters, Wis., on Saturday, July 8. Visitation starts at 10:00 a.m. with services beginning at 11:00 a.m. A light luncheon will follow the services at the church.
Saturday, July 8, 2023
1:30 - 2:00pm