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 born. 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. When her good friend Dorothy Kramer (Popp) married, backing out of their plan to head to Colorado to find nursing jobs, Schuhrke paired up with another nursing buddy, Carol Schmidt. They arrived at the train depot, dressed in heavy wool coats, surprised by the mild, 70-degree weather when they got off the train, in Colorado Springs in January 1959. Schuhrke joined the Snow Jets and learned to ski on the weekends in between her nursing work at the area hospitals.
While out with friends, dancing one Sunday afternoon, (polka music was her favorite) Schuhrke met Floyd Schuhrke, an air police officer from Belfield, North Dakota, who was stationed at the newly opened Air Force Academy. After sharing many picnics and barbeques with friends, they decided to marry June 24, 1961. After the ceremony in St. Cloud, they went to try out life in Oakland, California, settling near Floyd’s aunt, Lillian Johnson. 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. And as if this wasn’t enough, 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. For many years, she and Floyd and friends cut Christmas trees in the mountains, to decorate the sanctuary at Our Lady of the Pines, setting up, decorating the trees and making all the wreaths and swags by hand. At home, there was always a tall Christmas tree, decorated with the ornaments Floyd had purchased from the BX at the Academy and a growing collection of many precious family decorations. To top it off, she baked and decorated a half-dozen different kinds of Christmas cookies, along with cinnamon rolls and always shared a big Christmas dinner with close friends and family.
“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 and many silk flower arrangements at their shows and sales at the Black Forest Community Center.
About 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 a few days swimming and suntanning at Prospect Lake, hiking to the Crags, behind Pike’s Peak with friends, and traveling to nursing and family reunions in Minnesota and North Dakota. She kept up her nursing license through continuing education classes and teamed up with other church parishioners, raising 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” to many parts of the United States and made numerous fishing trips to the high country. They toured parts of Europe and South Africa, with close friends, 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; a sister Joyce; and extended family and friends, who will always remember Joanie, grateful for her exuberant and “super~motherly” presence in their lives.
She is missed.