Joanne Fimreite passed into eternal life on December 23, 2021. Born into a family of three boys on December 14, 1944, to Harvey and Sophie (née Hanson) Skoug, Joanne Marie Skoug quickly became “Daddy’s Girl.” The family lived in a remote part of Eau Claire where there were few houses and lots of trees and dirt roads, and she loved climbing the tallest trees, trying to outdo her brothers. Living on the planet-named streets of northern Eau Claire, she rode her bike and played hopscotch on the runways of Chippewa Valley Regional Airport when air traffic was far less frequent. Ball games took place in their sandy backyard, where those pesky sand burs could “getcha.” That was then. Today the neighborhood is filled with houses with lush green lawns and paved roads, thanks to Eau Claire North High School being built during Joanne’s junior year of 1962. She was the first class to graduate from the new building, the Class of 1963.
While attending grade school, Joanne helped get the kindergarten kids ready to go home: hats, mittens, snow pants, and boots. It was there that she originally set her sights on becoming a kindergarten teacher, a life goal she accomplished, graduating with a teaching degree from the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire. While in college, a blind date was arranged with a dairy farmer named Clifford Fimreite at the Eleva Broiler Fest in Eleva, Wisconsin. They had chicken and ate it without forks! Cliff told her, “You just eat it with your fingers.” Well, that dairy farmer took the city girl out to the farm and made her into a country girl. They married in 1967 and stayed together until Cliff’s death, 36 years later.
Joanne taught grade school in Nekoosa and Independence, Wisconsin. After a few years of teaching, she moved into her most prized career of all: full-time mother. She could be seen running with her children around the couple’s farm and creek beds, making a bridge out of an old fallen tree, or sharing a picnic lunch with her kids along the creek banks of the North Fork of Adams Creek, just north of Eleva. She loved being a mother.
She and her family sang at nursing homes and later joined a few local bands to also sing at nursing homes. She proudly attended her children’s school events, from plays, band concerts, sporting events, to solo ensemble events, always cheering them on. Cliff and Joanne hosted many bonfires with family and visitors from near and far, usually with sing-a-longs accompanied by several guitars, out on the high hills of their farm in the Driftless Area (unglaciated region).
Joanne traveled to many US states when she worked as a regional trainer for Apria Healthcare. After a stroke forced her early retirement, she continued to travel to sandy beaches, snow-capped mountains, big cities and fancy restaurants.
Faith, Family, and Friends. These three words were the most important values in Joanne’s life. Her Christian faith was important to her. An unwavering theme in Joanne’s life was service to others. She spent countless hours volunteering for her church, singing in the choir, directing the kids choir, teaching Sunday school, playing in the Bell Choir, and participating in Bible Study. She was also part of the hospitality team and helped prepare communion rites. She spent thousands of hours as a volunteer at Mayo clinic and loved to gather with her girlfriends for coffee and visits. She was a deacon at her church as well as a Stephen Minister, a person trained to administer one-on-one care to those experiencing a difficult time in life. She brought companionship and communion to the people she served. Joanne was dedicated to her children and grandchildren. She took joy in watching Morgan excel during her first year in college, cheering Mitchell on as he ran cross country, watching Sofia play tennis, attending Miriam’s symphony concerts, and laughing at Eli’s never-ending puns.
A few important people who left this life before her were her husband, her parents, her brothers Stanley and Larry Skoug, and her in-laws. The surviving family whom she loved so dearly include her sister Sandi (Larry) Staves, her brother Keith (Donna) Skoug, her sons Paul (Mita) and Jon (Jean) Fimreite, her daughter Jennifer (Andy) Sandberg, and her adored grandchildren Morgan and Mitchell Fimreite, and Sofia, Miriam and Eli Sandberg.
A special thank you to the staff at Mayo Hospital in Eau Claire and at UW Organ and Tissue Donation. With their exceptional care, two families received life saving organ-donation presents for Christmas from Joanne.
A celebration of life will be held this summer. Smith Funeral Chapel is assisting the family with cremation arrangements. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Peace Church or to Donate Life Wisconsin.