(shortened version for July 22 SJN print only; other longer version is scheduled to go live on website July 22)
Joan Ann Zimmer Schuhrke, 84
Aug. 4, 1937-June 11, 2022
Black Forest, Colorado, formerly of St. Joseph
Joan Ann Zimmer Schuhrke, 84, died June 11.
Her funeral will be held Saturday, July 30 at Our Lady of the Pines, Black Forest, Colorado. The rosary will be at 10:30 a.m., Mass at 11 a.m. Visit ourladyofthepines.org for the livestream.
Schuhrke was born Aug. 4, 1937 to Ann and Roman Zimmer, their first child. Born from the German-Catholic community of St. Joseph, she grew up with her sister Joyce, surrounded by their grandparents and many aunts, uncles and cousins. She made many lifelong friends through her school years and completed her nurses training at St. Gabriel’s in Little Falls.
While out with friends, dancing to polka music – her favorite, she met Floyd Schuhrke, an air police officer from Belfield, North Dakota, who was stationed at the newly opened Air Force Academy. They married June 24, 1961. After the ceremony in St. Cloud, they went to try out life in Oakland, California. In March 1962, Elaine was born and daughter Wendy followed close behind in April 1963. Schuhrke taught classes for nursing aides and orderlies, while Floyd found his way into operating heavy equipment. Deciding they didn’t want to raise their children in Bay Area California, they returned to Colorado, purchasing their first house at the top of a long hill, in Black Forest. Getting stuck in the deep, drifted snow in the driveway clinched the sale. “13295 Brentwood Drive” was their home when baby Timothy arrived 6 weeks early in April 1968. Schuhrke’s attentive nursing care shepherded him into a healthy start.
A gifted homemaker and the neighborhood nurse, Schuhrke partnered with Floyd’s heavy equipment excavating business as vice president, bookkeeper and treasurer. She also opened her own business, “Under the Mistletoe,” a year-round Christmas shop at the Painted Lady Shops and Tea Room in Old Colorado City. Christmas was Schuhrke’s favorite holiday season.
“Joanie” as she was affectionately known to her friends, was a lifelong member of the Black Forest Arts and Crafts Guild where she won blue ribbons for her “Moppets” – dolls made from a pop bottle and starched, painted fabric.
In 1975, Joan’s architect cousin, Eugene Zimmer, helped design “the new house” built on Hardin Road. She and her family and friends raced to complete the inside painting, wallpapering and staining to be able to move in by Thanksgiving 1976….in a blizzard!
Always moving in a whirlwind, Schuhrke somehow made space for sharing so many memorable times. Summer always included swimming, suntanning, hiking and traveling to nursing and family reunions in Minnesota and North Dakota. She and other church parishioners raised money by holding many bake sales, rummage sales and cleaning the little forest church “extra special” when the bishop came to visit. When Floyd was forced into medical retirement, she didn’t slow down, as they traveled the country in their “mobile field office” and made numerous fishing trips. They toured parts of Europe and South Africa, even locating and visiting distant family winemakers in Germany. Schuhrke’s mother, Ann Merkling Zimmer, lived in Colorado through the 1990s and again, it was Schuhrke’s nursing experience that ensured her mother was always well-attended and taken care of until her passing in 1999. There was a lot of hard work and sometimes tight and confusing times, yet Schuhrke always found a way through, supported by her faith, family and friends.
Though her health failed the last few years, Schuhrke remained, as always, curious, interested and wanting to be involved or going somewhere. The last week of her life, she played cards with her friends, left her favorite recipes clipped on top of her kitchen radio, made a batch of cookies together with Floyd and had flowers still blooming on her back porch.
Lion-hearted all her life, she shared her spirit, courage, generosity and love with every one of her family and friends.
Survivors include the following: her husband Floyd; children: Elaine, Wendy and Tim; grandchildren: Nathanial and Rachel; her sister Joyce; and extended family and friends. All will remember Joanie, grateful for her exuberant and “super~motherly” presence in their lives.