Sharon Jane Schuler was a bright, determined woman who experienced hardships in life but never gave up. Her circumstances caused her to pull away from people at times, but she refused to play the victim. She worked hard to provide what she could for her family. So much of what she wanted for herself could only be lived through her children, who loved and respected her for her resilience and strength.
Sharon Jane was born “Patricia Anne” to Walter Henry and Frances Marie (Crowley) Voigt on February 17, 1932 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. During the harsh years of the Great Depression, families were trying to make life pleasant in the midst of difficult conditions. The Voigts moved often and lived frugally under spartan conditions in which they were finally able to install indoor plumbing in the late 1940s. To support the family, Walter worked as a barber while Frances remained at home to care for their eight children: Walter Jr., Jeannine, Sharon, Edward, Marlene, Duane, Gary and Sandra.
At some point, Patricia began using the name Sharon Jane, and that became the name by which she was known. Though her early childhood was hard, Sharon found enjoyment playing basketball in high school, and she graduated at the dawn of the fun 50s. Being very responsible, she got a job at a canning factory in her teen years and later worked at a weaver’s shop and at Schlitz brewery. Sharon was an independent, capable young woman when she met the man who would become her husband.
Sharon was “set up” with Robert Larkin by members of his family, and it worked. The two were married on October 25, 1952, during the years that he was making his way through law school and working part-time as a bartender at a bowling alley. Sharon’s greatest joy was the birth of her two daughters, Lori Ann and Lynn Mary. However, her marriage did not last and she and Robert divorced in 1959. Still, there was always a twinkle in his eye whenever he asked about Sharon.
For a challenging time in the early 60s, Sharon was a single mother. It was most important to her that her daughters attend Catholic grade school, and she made it happen despite the pain of divorce. Before the Church, she felt shame over her broken marriage—a feeling she never really got rid of, even after she remarried. However, the blessings she experienced when she met Roger Schuler far surpassed her grief.
Toward Sharon, Roger expressed and demonstrated deep and unconditional love that never wavered. The two were married on March 17, 1967, and with this union, she welcomed Roger’s children—Mark, Terry, and Greg—into her life. To support the family, Roger was employed as an ironworker and Sharon worked for several years as a bank teller until putting her efforts into the family company. For a few years in the 1970s, Roger and Sharon operated Milwaukee Erectors. As it turned out, the enterprise was more of a learning experience, in that not everyone should own a business. It dissolved, but Roger continued working as a proud union ironworker.
“Sharon suffered with depression most of her life and struggled to be happy. But when she was happy, she was full of wit and humor.” She had a quirky way of greeting people, asking “How’s your liver?” For entertainment, Sharon went to the Potawatomi bingo hall with enough regularity to win a jackpot that allowed her to purchase a new car. For several years, she played cards with a great group of women. More than the card playing, she enjoyed the friendships enormously. Sadly over the years, Sharon’s depression caused her to withdraw more into her home, and as a result she was not always understood, but the women in her card club remained her loyal, lovely friends.
Interestingly, what was not known until recently about Sharon’s bingo experiences was that she won a prize as a child. A picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that hung in her bedroom was one she had selected as a 9 year old girl. She had wanted to choose a blanket for her mother, but when told to pick a gift for herself, she asked for the Sacred Heart.
That picture figured prominently at the end of Sharon’s life. The last day of her life was rich with comfort. She was talking and eating chocolate ice cream just hours before her death. She was at peace, saying she did not need a chaplain because of the assurance she already felt. Hours before her death, Sharon indicated through an intentional glance at the picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that she knew He was taking care of her. Her peace came as she walked toward the Lord’s open arms.
Such certainty came from one of the most important decisions Sharon had ever made. Her family speaks of it this way: “Toward the end of her life, as she heard about God’s great promise for us all, she finally began to acknowledge she was beginning to feel peaceful. Caregivers noted the change in her personality. Encouraged by her daughter Lynn Mary and Pastor Lee, we believe she invited Christ to enter her heart. Her final days erased much pain and sorrow. Friends and loved ones should take comfort in that.”
In those last days, Sharon acknowledged her hardships but seemed not to want to linger there. She talked of her readiness to sell her home (a decision she made one month before her death), and she seemed to find comfort in knowing that things were made easier for her daughter since the decision had been made. In the last few weeks, she was put at ease with assurances from her daughter’s friends. Since a focus of her life had been her daughters’ care and happiness, Sharon seemed to find peace in hearing friends say they would be well cared for.
Lynn Mary and Lori Ann hope people will choose to remember the intelligence and wittiness of their mother. Her wounds were deep and her depression real, but she was a loving, determined woman and, best of all, her life was in God’s hands.
Sharon Jane Schuler (nee Voigt), age 78 years, found God’s loving peace Sunday August 5, 2010. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Roger Schuler in 2005 and parents Walter and Frances Voigt. She will be lovingly missed by the apples of her eye: daughters Lori (Tom) McLaughlin and Lynn Mary Olcott; dear sister of the late Marlene (the late Allen) Edwards, the late Edward (Sue) Voigt and the late Walter Jr. (Peggy) Voigt, Duane (Diane) Voigt, Gary Voigt, Jeannine (the late Russell) Bruce and Sandra (Allen) Wilber. She is further survived by Roger’s children and grandchildren, other relatives and friends. A special thank you to David Eldridge, Joanne Mercer, Pastor Lee Nanfelt, Sharon Wargin, the staff of Cedar Springs Rehabilitation Center, Columbia St. Mary’s/Ozaukee, and Heartland Hospice for their special care of Sharon.
Visitation Saturday August 14 at Alliance Bible Church, 63W 13939N Cedarburg Road Mequon, WI from 9 AM until time of the Funeral Service at 10 AM. Reception to follow. Private interment at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, Cudahy, WI.
Suminski Family Funeral Homes served the family at Niemann/Suminski 414-744-5156.