Joel L. Sommerfeldt,PhD

Joel Sommerfeldt, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, passed away unexpectedly at his home on February 25, 2021 at the age of 66 years old.  

Joel was born on May 13, 1954, to the late Robert and Marie (Behrendt) Sommerfeldt in Berlin, Wisconsin. He attended Rhinelander High School. It was there that he met the love of his life, Deborah Vocke. At 15 years old, they were not only high school sweethearts; they were best friends. Their growing up together included trips to Wausau and snowmobiling. Joel, always the gentleman, was Deb’s rock. He graduated from high school in 1972.  

His intellectual spirit and desire to learn lead him to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where he studied biology and chemistry. Joel and Deb were then married on May 31, 1975 and started their family. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree from Luther and then furthered his studies at South Dakota State University; graduating in 1978 and obtaining his master’s degree in Dairy Science. He pursued a Doctorate in Nutritional Physiology from Iowa State University, graduating in 1982. He then accepted a position as Assistant Professor at Murray State University in their Animal Science Department. In 1984, he returned to his alma matter, South Dakota State University, and taught as Assistant Professor in Dairy Science until 1987. It was then when he joined Nutrition Professionals, Inc. as a partner. In all his achievements, he went above and beyond not only as a professional, but as a person. He never sacrificed the love he had for his family. He retired in 2012 and lived life to the fullest. He shared his bright soul up to the very end.  

To describe Joel in one word would be selfless. His care and attention were always on others and not himself. His Christian values and love for his family was above everything else in his life. He loved to hit the open road with his Motorhome and took many cross-country moving adventures with his family. Special to his family were the summers spent on Lake Mildred and the Minocqua Chain Of Lakes, where Joel loved to be in the boat. His quick wit and great sense of humor followed him wherever he went. Cracking jokes and telling stories will be truly missed. 

His respect and appreciation for animals, especially elephants, transcended to all types of pets at home. He loved his dogs and the dogs loved him. Joel’s love for Disney kept him a kid at heart with a Diet Coke in his hand and chocolate in his pocket.  

Joel is survived by his wife of 45 years, Deborah; children, Joelle (Adam) Steiner and Benjamin (Julia) Sommerfeldt; grandchildren, Isabella, Joseph, and Breanna; and his brother, James (Sherry) Sommerfeldt. He is further survived by several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Dr. Ronald Sommerfeldt, MD and Steven Sommerfeldt; and his aunt and uncle.  

For everyone that knew Joel – don’t worry, he’s “fine.” 

Joel’s Celebration of Life is being planned for mid-May 2021. Brainard Funeral Home and Cremation Center is assisting the family with arrangements. Updated service information will be announced at  

 John L. Sullivan, Jr

John Leo Sullivan, Jr., 61, of Wausau, passed away peacefully in his sleep at home at 9:06 pm on February 21, 2021, while surrounded by family.

John was born to the late John and Gertrude (Lauzon) Sullivan on May 16, 1959 in Wakefield, Michigan and was raised in the Bessemer area. At just 13, he started tearing down walls and blowing fuses. At 22, he was teaching electrician and construction courses at the technical college and in 1985, he started Wide Angle Construction Company. John married Elizabeth “Betsy” LaRose on July 28, 1979. They moved to the Wausau area in 1993, where he continued to work in construction until 1998 when he bought his first CBRF and found a passion working in the mental health industry.

John was a man of many talents. Not only was he a Master of Construction, but he was also musically gifted and had a passion for playing piano. Elton John was his favorite musician and he especially enjoyed “Rocketman”. He was a practical joker and found an easy victim in his sons. He loved flower gardening and had the most beautiful flowerbeds. He also enjoyed cruises in the Caribbean and to destinations such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas- just to name a few. John was a man who helped everyone he knew fix things. He is so loved and will be greatly missed.

John is survived by his wife, Betsy; sons Russell (Krysta) Sullivan and Derek (Jessica) Sullivan; grandkids Kali, Ireland, Aidan and Harper; siblings Michael (Tami) Sullivan, Joe (Lorraine) Sullivan, Patrick Sullivan, Curt (Cindy) Sullivan, and Ramona (Jim) Collins. He is preceded in death by his parents and parent-in-laws Anne and Vernard LaRose.

A celebration of John’s life will be held in the Bessemer area this summer.

Our family wishes to thank any and all involved in John’s care.

Mary H. Ostrowski

 Mary Ostrowski, 61, formerly of Wausau, died Thursday February 25, 2021 at Peach Avenue Group Home, Marshfield under the care of Heartland Hospice.

She was born May 14, 1959, daughter of the late Edmund and Mildred (Beck) Ostrowski.

Born with Down Syndrome, Mary attended school at River View Elementary and later entered programming with EACH, a Marathon County service.  She worked at Northern Valley Workshop and Black River Industries.  Mary lived with family member into her mid 30’s.  She then lived in various group homes, Angel of the Glen, Kronenwetter, COHO, Colby, Trillium AFH, Medford and most recently, Peach Avenue Group Home, Marshfield.

Survivors include her siblings, David (Kathy) Ostrowski, Eugene (Janet) Ostrowski, Kenneth Ostrowski, Glenn Ostrowski, and Edwin (Sonja) Ostrowski; brother-in-law, Jack Hartvig, sisters-in-law; Sue Ostrowski and Candy Ostrowski and other relatives and friends.

Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by brothers, Leroy, Richard, and Robert “Baldy” Ostrowski, a sister, Diane Hartvig and sister and brother-in-law, Susan (David) Borchardt.

The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 2, 2021 at St. Florian Catholic Church, Hatley.  Rev. Greg Bohren will preside.  Burial will be in Restlawn Memorial Park, Wausau.  Visitation will be on Tuesday from 4:30 p.m. until the time of services at the church.  Social distancing protocols will be observed, and masks should be worn by those in attendance.

Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.  Online condolences may be expressed at

 Michael P. Bergs

Michael P. “Mike” Bergs, 72, Edgar passed away Sunday, February 28, 2021 at Marshfield Medical Center, Marshfield.

He was born May 26, 1948 in Wausau, son of the late Joseph and Marcella (Rausch) Bergs.  On October 4, 1980 he married Sandra Stenzel at Holy Family Catholic Church, Poniatowski.  She survives.

Mike retired after a long career at Masonite Corporation in Marshfield.  He was also a Village of Edgar trustee for many years.  Some of his favorite pastimes included watching all sports, especially football, riding his motorcycle, snowmobiling, casino trips and golfing.

Mike is survived by his wife Sandy Bergs, Edgar, his sister, Darlene (Michael) Jansen, Kronenwetter, brothers, Charles (Sharon) Bergs, Kronenwetter, Matthew Bergs, Burlington, Daniel (Mary) Bergs, Stratford, his mother-in-law, Priscilla Stenzel, Athens and brother-in-law, Randall (Jean) Stenzel, Athens and many nieces and nephews.

The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Friday, March 5, 2021 at Holy Family Catholic Church, Edgar.  The Rev. Thomas Huff will preside.  Private family entombment will be at Restlawn Memorial Park, Wausau.  Visitation will be held on Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at the Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, Edgar and again on Friday from 9:00 a.m. until the time of services at the church.  Current social distancing guidelines will be in place as well as face masks required for all who attend.  Online condolences may be expressed at 

Lorraine K. Wachowiak

Lorraine “Lori” K. (nee Szarkowitz) Wachowiak, 57, Wausau, died Saturday, February 20, 2021 at Wausau Manor, under the care of Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services.

She was born June 13, 1963 in Wausau, daughter of the late Dorothy Meyer.

Lori was a free spirit who loved meeting new people and welcomed anyone into her home. She appreciated art and loved music. She had a quick sense of humor and an infectious laugh. Her open minded personality made her a compassionate listener and friend to many.

Survivors include, four children, Brad Szarkowitz, Wausau, Leslie (Matt) Kasprzycki, Rothschild, Michael (Robin) Mancoske, Kaukauna and Rebecca Wachowiak, Stevens Point; eight grandchildren, Alexis, James, Jordan, Leonard, Brianna, Andrew, James and Jocelyn; and three siblings, Tom (Beth) Szarkowitz, Mesa, AZ, Craig (Rachel) Szarkowitz, Wausau and Tom (Karla) Lord, West Salem.

A celebration of life service will be held on June 13, 2021.  Family will contact family and friends with location and details.

Online condolences may be expressed at

Sara L. Blanchard

Sara L. Blanchard, 56, Rib Mountain, died Thursday, February 25, 2021 at Aspirus Hospice House, Wausau.

She was born May 2, 1964 in Marshfield, daughter of the late Orville and Marion (Eberhardy) Wetterau.  On July 14, 1984, she married Dean Blanchard in Wausau.  He survives.

At age 18, Sara began working for Shopko and was currently employed as an Optician for Shopko Optical.  Sara was a former member of the Town of Berlin-Hamburg Lions Club, and enjoyed shooting pool, playing softball, fishing, camping and spending time with her grandson, Micah.  Sara was a diehard Green Bay Packer fan.

Survivors include, her husband, Dean; two daughters, Nicole Bates and Karissa Blanchard, both of Wausau; her grandson, Micah Bates; five siblings, Ruth (Joe) Eckardt, Phoenix, AZ, Joan Wetterau, Tomahawk, Mary (Doug) Zirbel, Mosinee, Jane Wetterau, Medford and Paul (Rox) Wetterau, Spencer; her mother-in-law, Marlene Blanchard, Marshfield; two brothers-in-law, Richard Blanchard and Duane (Lisa) Blanchard, both of Marshfield; and many nieces and nephews.

Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by her father-in-law, Raymond Blanchard; her brother-in-law, Dennis Blanchard; and her sister-in-law, Sarah Blanchard.

Funeral services will be at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 4, 2021 at Trinity Lutheran Church, Wausau.  Rev. Zach Holdorf will officiate.  Visitation will be on Thursday from Noon until time of services at the church.  Social distancing will be observed and face masks will be required to attend.  The funeral service will be livestreamed at 2:00 p.m. on the Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home facebook page.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed in memory of Sara to the Town of Berlin-Hamburg Lions Club or the Better Life Insurance Group.

Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, 1302 Sixth Street, Wausau is in charge of arrangements.  Online condolences may be expressed at

Brian C. Reise

Brian Charles Reise passed away peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones on February 25, 2021 after a courageous battle with a glioblastoma/astrocytoma (brain tumor) diagnosed in November 2019.  Brian was born July 10, 1961 to Charles and Rita Reise of Unity, WI.  Brian, the eighth of nine children, was a welcome addition as six of the previous children were girls.

          He received his education in Colby area schools, graduating from Colby High School in 1979.  He was a lifelong member of Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Colby.  His faith meant a great deal to him and it is certain that he will be welcomed into his heavenly home with great joy.

          Growing up in a large farm family helped Brian’s natural aptitude for hard work ethic.

          He began his professional career at the age of 18 when he began working at Colby Metals.  His innovative ideas and sharp mind allowed him to rise to the level of Vice President before he left the company in May of 2014.  He thereafter worked at MEC in Neillsville until the time of his illness in November of 2019.  Again, Brian’s skills and hard work ethic made him a very valuable employee.  The love and support from MEC and Colby Metals was a blessing in Brian’s journey.

          Brian married Mary Ann Treankler in 1997.  Together they enjoyed Mary Ann’s large family and pursuing mutual interests, before life lead them in separate directions in 2008.

          On August 14, 2015 Brian married Shelli Seefeld.  She lovingly and tirelessly cared for him throughout his illness.  She was and is the epitome of a loving spouse. 

          Brian’s gift for building and his ability to visualize a finished project along with his determination and downright stubbornness were key in helping him through difficult situations in his life.  No where was that more apparent than when he and his best friend Matt Tellock labored unceasingly to remodel an old farmhouse through an endless summer of rain and mud.  The finished product became a happy home for Brian, Shelli and Shelli’s daughters, Shaylee and Shyanne, the daughters of Brian’s heart.

          Brian pursued with endless energy, his interests and hobbies.  He enjoyed spending time with family and friends including his “Riplinger family” and Bill and Debbie Kara, lifelong friends.

          Brian will be missed by his pets, especially his princess Ashlee who was always by his side.

          Brian loved hunting and fishing at his cabin up North and touring with Shelli in their “side by side” and shooting pool.  He was an excellent cook and was known for his award-winning chili.  One of his favorite past times that he was always up for, was “checking traps” with Matt.

          Brian was predeceased by his mother Rita on February 22, 1997.

          He is survived by his beautiful wife Shelli, their girls Shaylee and Shyanne Martens, his father and stepmother Charles and Orvilla Reise, six sisters and two brothers Kathy (Duane) Bowe, Chippewa Falls, Roger (Deborah) Reise, Unity, Marilyn (Ron) Brost, Unity, Judy (Allen) Novacek, Lakeville, MN, Susan (Al) Hubing, Leanne (Ron) Leonhard, Unity, Marie (Bob) Kauffman, Medford and Chris Reise, Marshfield, mother and father-in-law, Doug (Barb) Seefeld, Spencer, sister-in-law, Tammy (John Austin) Seefeld, Abbotsford, as well as many well-loved nieces and nephews, family, and friends.

          “To learn who the father is means learning what absolute trust is.”

                                                                     -Pope John Paul II

          And it is with absolute trust and certainty that we surrender our beloved husband and father, son, brother, and friend to the father knowing that our prayers for a longer healthy life for Brian are being answered by the father in a more loving and grandiose way then anyone can begin to imagine.

          The family wishes to express their deepest appreciation and thanks to the nurses and staff of Ascension Health and Heartland Hospice, especially Jessica, Zach, Josh and Deb.    

The funeral Mass will be celebrated 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 6, 2021 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Colby.  Visitation will be Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until the time of services all at the church.  Burial will be at a later date. Current social distancing protocols will be observed and face coverings are required for all who attend.

Online condolences may be expressed at

Joseph L. “JaJa” Gajewski, Sr.

Joseph L. “Jaja” Gajewski, Sr. age 84, passed away on February 24, 2021. He was born in Wausau, WI on August 9, 1936 the son of Louis F. and Josephine (Gutowski) Gajewski.

Joseph was a U.S. Air Force Veteran.

He is survived his loving children, Pamela Solecki, Joseph Jr. (Kimberly) Gajewski, Julie (Wayne) Reed, Cheryl Gajewski and Jon Gajewski; his 7 grandchildren and his 8 1/2 great-grandchildren.

In addition to his parents, Joseph was preceded in death by his wife, Mary K Gajewski; his son Michael Gajewski and his siblings.

Arrangements entrusted to Willow Funeral Home & Cremation Care in Algonquin.

Burial will be at Restlawn Cemetery, Wausau, WI at a future date.

Diane M. Embree

The love of my life and my best friend, Diane (Mantor) Embree, left the circles of this world on March 1, 2021, at age 69, to the loving embrace of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  As her husband of 35 years, I want to write a somewhat nontraditional obituary to tell a bit of her story and to honor all that she has meant to me.  Diane made me human, and she will always be my forever love.

Diane grew up in Antigo, Wisconsin, the third of six siblings, four boys and two girls.  She graduated from Northcentral Technical College and moved to Wausau, where we met at a Bible study.  We were married in 1985, in what residents of Sheboygan still refer to with awe as “THE wedding”. 

My thoughts are turning to a time very early in our relationship, when I first visited Diane’s little apartment. I was awestruck by how beautiful she had made it, with cross-stitch projects and the like, and I remember thinking, “I want this woman in my life”. I think of the woman whose eyes looked so beautiful to me as we sat by the shore of Lake Michigan and watched the ore boat come in, the woman who used to walk down the hill to the place where I was then working to show me what she had bought at the mall, the woman who has cherished cats all her life and helped so many of them, the woman with whom I shared the “Niagara Avenue love nest” when we were newlyweds, the woman who went to annual craft fairs with me. I love her so much.

Diane was always such a generous person.  I remember how, each year, we would visit the “giving tree” in the mall and buy a present for one child. We love cats, so one year, a child wanted a “Littlest Pet Shop” set and it was a real joy to purchase that.  I remember how she would encourage me to make a donation to the humane society each year, including cat treats, cat toys, cat blankets, and so forth.  I remember how she would buy and deliver designer gifts for her brother, including a “Packer package” featuring a miniature Packer-themed Christmas trailer.  I remember how she would laboriously make craft projects — ornate cross-stitch pictures, or complex knitted afghans — for friends and relatives.  I remember how she would make up to ten tins of special fancy cookies for my colleagues at the university each Christmas.  I remember how, when a friend adopted a kitten, she put together a “kitty starter pack” for her.

Diane was predeceased by her parents, George and Gladys Mantor; her sister, Joan (Benkusky); and her brothers Jim and Tom.  She is survived by me, her husband Marlowe, and her brothers Rick and Jerry.  In lieu of an in-person memorial service at this time, a video tribute is being arranged through Peterson-Kraemer Funeral Home.  Diane’s earthly remains will be interred at Restlawn Memorial Park.  In honor of Diane’s deep love of cats, donations in her name to New Life Pet Adoption Center in Marathon would be greatly appreciated.  Right now, I believe, she is petting her beloved Boots (pictured), who went to Rainbow Bridge ten years ago.

I know that from Heaven, Diane is looking down on me, sending me her love and encouragement, praying for me. Our love song was “Someone to Watch Over Me”. I tried to be that for her for 35 years. She can be that for me now. I will try to be the best man I can possibly be, and to live every day in her honor. She was God’s greatest earthly gift to me. One day, she and I will shine like the sun in the kingdom of the Father, and we will never again be parted. Until then, my dearest love, wait for me.  “Blessed are those who die in the Lord from henceforth, and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13)