Juanita Norma Vogel Martin

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Juanita Norma Vogel Martin, 100, of Prairie du Chien, passed away Tuesday, Aug. 21, at the Prairie Maison Care Center. 

One hundred years is a very long life, and Juanita lived it to the fullest. She was born at Lynxville and spent her childhood in Mt. Sterling, where her parents Charles and Edith (Bottolfson) Vogel had a small business. She was confirmed at Utica Lutheran Church, attended Mt. Sterling Grade School, and graduated from Seneca High School in 1935. Her plan to attend La Crosse Teacher’s College ended when her faher’s illness required that she, the oldest child, stay home to help the family. 

In the 30s, the Vogels lived across the street from the Martins, and in 1936, the tall “thin” Juanita became the bride of Clyde Martin. They were married April 16, 1936, at the Rev. Haagenson Parsonage in Viroqua. The bride and groom appeared on the radio in La Crosse, quite a media event in those days. In the depth of the Great Depression, these two optimists set their course on a gas station in Lynxville. Two children were born: Richard in 1937 and Linda in 1941. 

Over the years, the Martins owned and operated several small businesses and as they moved from place to place, Juanita had “on-the-job” training. In 1946, they purchased the Bridgeport “truckstop”—a general store, restaurant and gas station. Those 10 years at Bridgeport held some of her fondest memories. It saw the children through most of their school years. The family joined St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. The whole family worked in the business, seven days a week, no vacations or holidays, except Christmas, when they loaded grocery bags to distribute to families in need. Six days a week, Juanita cooked for salesmen, truckers and locals, a lunch of meat, potatoes, vegetable, salad and desserts She also pumped gas, sold groceries and was the Bridgeport “stringer” for the Courier Press. 

Clyde started a tour boat business in Prairie. They gave tours on the Mississippi River every weekend for Chicago tourists who arrived by train. Juanita narrated a history of the area, which she had written. The Martins finally moved to Prairie and Juanita went to work at Ritchie’s jewelry store, her first salaried job. She also served as president of the Band Mothers, and led a successful drive to purchase new uniforms. In 1959, Juanita’s mother in Madison, had a stroke. So the family pulled up stakes and moved to the state capitol. 

Juanita went to work at J.C. Penney on the Square. They later ran the Nibble Nook near the capitol building. Following a few years at Wyocena, the Martins came back “home.” In the 70s, they bought the Wyalusing Hidden View trailer court. They stayed on after selling it and later bought the Speedway station in Prairie. In 1986, they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at Geisler’s Blue Heaven. In 1989, they retired to Homesteader Court, but Juanita went back to Ritchie’s part-time for a few more years. 

After Clyde passed away in 1999, Juanita became a regular visitor at nursing homes and the hospital, calling on and bringing encouragement to long-time friends. If she saw a need, she didn’t hesitate to call a child to come and take care of their parent. In 2007, at age 90, she reluctantly gave up her beloved Cadillac, and moved to LaBatisse Apartments. After a hip replacement at age 95, she moved to Bluff Haven, and three years later to Prairie Maison. 

Juanita and Clyde lived their lives “serving the public.” Juanita, the consummate “people person,” loved a good laugh; there is no doubt that for her, the glass was always “half full.” The family is gratefull to the caregivers at Bluff Haven and Prairie Maison, and especially Dr. Boisvert. Special thanks to Rilla for all those years at Red’s.

Celebrating her life are her children, Dick and his wife Sharon, of Prairie du Chien, and Linda and her partner Dr. Zorko Greblo, of Madison; sisters-in-law Georgia Vogel, of San Angelo, Texas, Marguerite Lusth, of Rockford Ill., and Caroline Ostrander, of Prairie d Chien; grandsons Rick Martin, of Tempe, Ariz., and Craig (Lisa) Martin, of Seymour; seven great-grandchildren, one great-great grandson; and a host of nieces, nephews and extended family and friends.

Juanita was preceded in death by her husband Clyde; three siblings at birth; brothers Darryl Robert, in 1961, and Charles “Chuck,” in 2010; and sister Inez Thomas, in 2017. Also deceased are grandchildren Jeffrey Martin and Robin Nebel, and great grandson Jeremy Martin. 

Funeral services will be Saturday, Aug. 25, at 10:30 a.m., at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Prairie du Chien, with Rev. Joe Irvin officiating. Interment will follow in the Utica Lutheran Church Cemetery in Utica Township. Friends may call at the church on Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. until the time of services. The Garrity Funeral Home of Prairie du Chien is assisting the family.


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