Joyce Stelter leaves behind a life fully lived. She always kept physically active, was consistently stubborn and was never afraid to speak her mind. She fully embraced the importance of family “blood”. Her family was central to her heart, and she found unique ways of showing that love to each family member. She was a loving and devoted wife, a caring mother, and a cherished grandmother and friend to so many. We are saddened to have to say farewell to such a good soul.
Joyce’s life began in the early years of the 1930’s. This decade was a sharp contrast to the 20’s decade. Instead of worrying about where one might find the next alcoholic beverage, the majority of the people worried about where they were going to get their next meal. The population of the country had grown to approximately 122 million people.
In the year of 1930 specifically, the United States faced one of the worst droughts in recorded history which created many issues including horrific dust storms and farming hardships. The Depression worsened, unemployment was on the rise, and the gross national product continued to fall. Thankfully, the cartoon, Betty Boop, made her debut creating some much-needed entertainment. This was also the year in which the incredibly useful sticky tape was invented. And though it seemed like times were difficult, the country looked up to the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York City.
Closer to home, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on February 2, a date famously known as Ground Hog’s Day, Joyce Elizabeth entered the world hearing news that the groundhog had indeed spotted his shadow. As the news came of winter lasting only another six weeks, John and Anna Taberski, adopted Joyce. With the new addition to the Taberski family, Joyce joined her two older siblings, Harvey and Lorraine, and their family was then complete.
Joyce and her siblings grew up with happy chaos amidst the occasional sibling squabble. Their home was always busy, but Joyce found plenty of success and eventually graduated from high school. Upon earning her diploma, she found work as a secretary for a doctor’s office and for Krause Milling. She found a home at Rexnord where she worked until retirement in 1992. Though she was a hard worker, fate intervened to make sure she also found love. In April of 1951, two paths converged on a blind date. Merlyn and Joyce exchanged hearts almost immediately, finding that they shared a true and lasting bond. Not more than a month passed, and the happy couple announced their engagement. They planned the exciting day over the summer months and finally exchanged vows on September 22, 1951. Though they did not realize it then, their lifelong love would last over six decades. They shared a love that was truly meant to be, and that was quite evident even upon their introduction.
The newlyweds promised to endure the good times and the bad, and they both held their promise. From the start, Joyce’s dedication to Merlyn never wavered. Once the couple celebrated the joy of children, her dedication was just as strong to their family. Their children, Michael Howard, Sandra Lorraine, Garald Mac kept their parents on their toes. Joyce became a Cub Scout den mother and pack leader when the boys were young, and she was always available to tend to any other extracurricular activities.
The Stelter family enjoyed many vacations up north where they stayed at several different cottages. Many wonderful memories were created during these trips. When the family was home, they would visit their local bowling alley, where Joyce would teach each one of her children how to bowl.
While both Merlyn and Joyce loved to bowl, and enjoyed a friendly challenge, it was Joyce’s love of competition that took her to the next level. Over the years she competed in many tournaments at the local, state and national level earning awards in all from pins to trophies. She was also a proud member, multiple times, of both the 600 and 700 Clubs.
As their children grew up, they found that they had time to spend together again – just the two of them. In 1992, they bought a cabin in the Minocqua area and made it their permanent home. The couple settled into the community quite well, and Joyce even served as a volunteer first responder. This was also the spot where many holiday and family celebrations occurred. Joyce embraced the “up north” lifestyle and loved to fish – especially with her grandchildren. Once they caught their limit, Joyce would teach them how to clean and cook the fish.
When there was a special occasion, Joyce was always very “put together” and looked beautiful. She had a knack for matching her jewelry to her outfit perfectly…complete with pin and scarf in many cases.
Joyce and Merlyn joyfully watched as the blessing of 8 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren came into their lives. Each and every one expanded the love found in their grandparents’ hearts. Becoming grandparents made the passing of time full of more grace.
And as life became more challenging, they opted to move to Jefferson. Soon, Merlyn’s health began to fade, but Joyce tended to his every need making his life more comfortable. No amount of loving passion from his bride could keep time from slipping by. With a heavy heart, Joyce was forced to say goodbye to her husband in April of 2016. With the love and support of her family and friends, she held the memories they shared close and found some goodness in life again. She stayed in Jefferson until just before her death.
Joyce’s life was one that included exuberance and activity. She continued to bowl throughout her life and up until 6 months before she passed away. She was also quite adept on the golf course. When she wanted to relax a bit, she listened to the music of Johnny Mathis or Nat King Cole while turning the pages of her most recent western or mystery novel. When all else failed, she looked forward to watching an old western on the television. She was also known to be quite the crafter. She did a beautiful job making quilted table runners and pillows. All the girls in her family have more than one. Joyce was always quick to ask…”What colors do you like?” She enjoyed flower arranging as well, and one could always find her creations decorating her home, each representing the appropriate time of the year.
Food creates nostalgia, and Joyce leaves behind a special legacy in the kitchen. In her younger years, she baked up an amazing coffee cake that was airy and delicious, and anyone was pleased to receive one of these treats. Her zucchini bread was equally scrumptious and enjoyed by everyone, but especially her son-in-law Mike. Before cooking became a little more challenging, Merlyn and Joyce would join forces to make many different kinds of Christmas cookies for the whole family to enjoy. They always stored them in a large Tupperware found upon the refrigerator, and anyone who knew where to look for them went straight away to search out one – or three. Joyce also discovered a recipe for caramel corn which became a family favorite. Again, the container gave away the yummy treat, but the caramel corn had its own large yellow bowl big enough to hold the huge batch she always made.
Joyce will forever be known for her endless lists which were sometimes for her personal use, but sometimes created for others…whether they were asked for it, or not. She was not one to hold back her opinion, and she did not hesitate to “call a spade, a spade.” Though she could be a bit stubborn, most always it was due to her passion for what she felt was right.
After 87 years of life with us, Joyce took her final breaths on May 10, 2017. She and Merlyn are now celebrating their many successes together in their shared lifetime. Joyce leaves behind her children: Michael H. (Lyn) Stelter, Sandra L. (Michael) Polyak, and Garald Mac (Dana) Stelter; her grandchildren: Curtis (Ashley) Stelter, Jonathan (Allison) Stelter, Jessica Polyak, Pamela Polyak, and Melissa Polyak; her step-grandchildren Amy Floryance, Andrew (Michelle) Floryance, Nathan Floryance, and Ashley Almodovar; and great-grandchildren: Claire, Jacob Michael, Cameron, Olivia, William, Madisyn, Maddix and Amiah; as well as other relatives and friends. Her spirit and love will be dearly missed by all, but the precious memories of times shared will never be forgotten.
Per Joyce’s wishes, a private memorial service will be held. In lieu of flowers, memorials in Joyce’s name to the Association for the Rights For Citizens with handicaps (ARCh), 419 Frederick St, Waukesha, WI 53186, are appreciated.