Patricia Mae (Gabel) Gestner of Soldiers Grove Wi, formerly of Milton, Wisconsin, beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend to countless people, passed away Sunday, April 2nd, 2023. Patsy was born into the loving arms of Dorothy and Donald Gabel, in Lancaster, WI on August 15th, 1944, the third daughter in the loving Gabel family of 12 siblings.
Patsy was surrounded by her family, and friends, as she transitioned into her next life; many who shared loving memories, stories, songs, prayers, music, laughter, and a river of tears. It is no coincidence the Kickapoo is overflowing its banks as I write this.
Patsy is survived by three loving children Debra (Howard) Arndt, Daniel (Lauralee) Kane, and Jennifer (Jack) Jarrett; her grandchildren Nathan, Nicholas, Carter, Jesse, Marissa, Anna, Cody, Lauren, Devon, Gabrielle, and Cassy, grandsons and daughter-in-laws, and her great-grandchildren Brody and Merlin. In addition, she is survived by eight adoring siblings, Deanna, Judy, Sandy, Rita, Dolly, James, Leane, and Mick, and many adoring nieces and nephews. Patsy was preceded in death by her brothers Bobby, and Tim, and sister Tami and her parents Don and Dorothy Gabel. Husbands Robert Kane and Robert Gestner.
One of Patsy’s true passions was her flower gardens, tending to her flowers like they were her children, giving them each the attention of a loving mother. They loved her back, displaying prolific, beautiful blooms throughout the spring, summer and fall. Like the seeds in a flower, Patsy spread her love of gardening to many, who in turn keep her passion alive and still growing.
Patsy loved traveling and visited many states throughout the US in the camper van she and Bob purchased. After she retired, she took a trip to the Netherlands to see, of course, the Dutch tulips blossoming. She was so moved by the fields upon fields of brilliantly colored tulips. Patsy was an avid reader and loved history. In her travels, she followed the Lewis and Clark trail and was happy to share the details of her trip with anyone who would listen. Patsy was a great storyteller and would have everyone in stitches with her antics in recounting her travel tales.
Mom was an active member of her local furniture workers union IUE-CWA Local 84811 at Hufcor Manufacturing in Janesville, Wisconsin, eventually becoming the union steward and then retiring after many years of employment. We have fond memories of her volunteering her time, raising money for families affected by layoffs, picketing for better working conditions and wages, making tons of potato salad for Labor Day celebrations, and proudly participating in the local Labor Day parades.
Politics is a taboo subject for most people, but Patsy dove headfirst into local, state, and national politics as a proud Democrat. She understood that change happens at the grassroots level, and was determined to make a difference. She phone banked, canvassed door-to-door, and could hold an informed, intelligent, and non-contentious conversation with anyone in the opposite isle. We attended rallies together and have many special memories of going to Bob Fest in Baraboo.
The Great Outdoors was an integral part of Patsy’s life. She loved being active, taking long walks, swimming (she was an amazing diver), cross-country skiing, sailing, wind surfing, gardening, fishing, camping, and foraging wild mushrooms (more great stories)!
As kids, our lives were full of music, singing, and dancing. Mom LOVED music-all kinds of music. We used to fall into fits of hysterical laughter when mom would break into the Dance of the Cossacks! I am still amazed at that! She taught us to dance the Swing and never hesitated to get on the dance floor and bust a move! Yep, we had a cool mom!
Patsy hails from a family of fantastic cooks. She lived and loved to cook! We didn’t know we were eating gourmet-quality food and pastries growing up, just that we had delicious food on the table and heavenly sweets on hand. Summers bounty always resulted in a full larder of every size and shape of canned goods. She was always making treats to take to work and everyone loved her generous nature. That love of great, homestyle cooking was passed on to all her children and grandchildren. Many guests at the Old Oak Inn are benefiting from Patsy’s cooking, as I pass on the culinary skills I learned standing on a chair at the counter with mom, “helping” her cook and bake. She always added that secret ingredient that makes everything taste SO good. Love!
In 2010 Patsy had a massive stroke. The doctors told us we should let her die because she would never walk, talk, or have any kind of quality of life. She proved them wrong. We are so incredibly proud of our Miracle Mama because she did survive through HARD work, perseverance, and sheer determination. Patsy lived her life out loud despite her impairments, and we had 13 bonus years with her. Mom had a smile that would light up a room. The laughter she shared was infectious-you always knew when she was around because she turned heads with the first crack of her laughter. Her generosity saw no end. She was always giving food, flowers, her time, even the earrings off her ears, to family, friends, and strangers alike. Patsy loved life and brought so much joy everywhere she went. She loved her family deeply, profoundly, and never-ending. Her beautiful heart and soul will live on for an eternity, through generations of her family and friends. All that we are, and hope to be, we owe to our mother.
We would like to thank the wonderful staff at Soldiers Grove Health Service for the compassion they showed in caring for mom the last three years, and in particular the last three days of her life. She loved you all right back. In addition, we want to thank the nurses at St Croix Hospice for their professionalism and kindness during mom’s hospice care.
A Celebration Of Life will be held on Saturday, May 13th, 2023 at the Old Oak Inn (in the banquet hall) at 1 pm. The address is 500 Church Street, Soldiers Grove, WI 54655. Phone (608) 624-5217
Homer and Deb Arndt
500 Church St
Soldiers Grove, WI 54655
Roth Family Cremation Center and Funeral Services is assisting the family.
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