Joyce Darlene Vorpagel, 89, of Burlington, went home to the Lord to embrace her loving husband, Earl on Sunday, May 26, 2024.

Born in Burlington on July 11, 1934, and raised in Bloomfield on the family farm, she was the daughter of William and Eleanor (nee Schwanz) Steffen.

Story has it that the first time Earl saw Joyce was from across the football field when a light came shining down on her, and that was it, he was in love. They were married on Sept. 23, 1950. They began life as simple farm kids with a dream of a big family who loved God. Together they raised a family of seven children and Earl called her “the most beautiful woman in the world”.

Joyce was a woman who loved traditions and God’s beautiful earth. Her Christmas spirit and love for family always included a church service followed by an incredible spread of food and a long table filled with flowers and all the people who loved her and Earl; the gifts were always “just perfect” and opened by one of their many Christmas trees. The girls wore Christmas corsages and new dresses–chosen with a special shopping trip together. She loved to cook for everyone, and often she had to be reminded to sit down and eat. For dessert she made over 50 varieties of cookies, which were enjoyed by family, friends, and local businesses. All birthdays were a favorite–she made everyone feel celebrated. Anyone was welcome to any gathering and to Jeremy Hanna she was known as “Mommy Joyce”. At some point, some called her Oma. She loved a Sunday night movie with popcorn and root beer floats, ice cream, decorating her home for all of the seasons, and embroidering. Her favorite color was blue. She loved lunches with her Barton’s gang (recently Jean and Annette) and coffee with her “best” friend, Judy. She loved babies. Her therapy in life was gardening; she loved digging in the dirt and tending her flowers; she loved mowing the lawn and the beauty of the north woods. She and Earl loved traveling. They had a home in Minocqua that they ventured to via Earl’s plane as often as possible, and they took big trips to Germany and the Holy Lands with many of their children and spouses. She was a Packer fan and loved their trips to Green Bay and Lambeau Field. She also enjoyed attending the Milwaukee Symphony and The Fireside Theater. She taught us to embrace family, take adventures–even spur of the moment ones, love God’s artistry and animals, and to be generous and kind. She had a few sayings–always state with faith: “It will all work out”, “One day at a time”, and “When one door closes, another will open”.

Joyce served in many different areas throughout her life. Her first job was as a carhop and then a waitress at the Austin Club in Powers Lake, where she worked twelve-hour days seven days a week at $25 per week. She also worked at Honey Bear Farm, Nestle’s, Bartons and did the bookkeeping for the family business, Vorpagel Service, until she retired. Her earnings were all saved for Christmas. She was also a volunteer at Burlington Memorial Hospital (now Aurora Medical Center) for 41 years, many of these years with her dear friends Jean Heilegenthal and Annette Siehoff.

Joyce was a woman of faith. She worshiped at St. Johns in Slades Corners, St. Paul’s in Lyons, Cross Lutheran Church in Burlington, and most recently at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lake Geneva. Her confirmation verse was “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life”. ~Revelations 2:10

She is survived by her children, Rev. Dr. Earl (Pat) Vorpagel III, Ellen (Ken) Hanson, Elaine (Bill) Wolters, Elise (Bill) Corcoran, Eileen (Thomas) Lahiff, Eric (Kelly) Vorpagel and Edward (Lucy) Vorpagel; grandchildren, Jason (Ann) Bartelt, Bailey Morse, Rachel Vopagel (Daren Peach), Hannah (Tyler) Krueger, Earl Vorpagel IV (fiance Jess Rojemann), Jennifer (Eric) Plitzuweit, Jarrod (Samantha) Hanson, Justin Hanson (Caitlin Crouchet), Jacob Hanson, Mark (Miranda Van Minnen) Wolters, Caitlin Wolters (Dane Shannon), Lynn Busch, Jeremy Busch, Matt (Sarah) Busch, Joe Pavelsek, Chris (Emily) Pavelsek, Emili Palmisano, Nikki (Ben) Goetsch, Weston Ludwig, Carlie Vorpagel, Erika Vorpagel, Edward Vorpagel Jr. and Elexa (Brett) Peterson; great grandchildren, Casey Bartelt, Carter Bartelt, Eleanor Morse, Ryder Krueger, Cameron Kreuger, Carter Peach, Rowen Peach, Mikella Plitzuweit, McKenzie Plitzuweit, Macie Plitzuweit, Azden Hanson, Archer Hanson, Amara Hanson, Emma Hanson, Julius Hanson, Declan Altobell-Crouchet, Remy and Kaya Wolters, Charlotte Busch, Theodore Pavelsek, Meadow Boetsch, and Silas and Sienna Peterson. She is also survived by her sisters-in-law Lucille (Don) Page and Jean Mohrbacker; brother-in-law Richard Vorpagel; many nieces and nephews; and by “the bestest puddy cat in the world”, Bella.

She was preceded in death by Earl, the love of her life; her parents; her siblings Ruth (Joe) Schneider and Glenn (Lorraine) Steffen; nephew Stan Schneider; her brother-in-law Robert Vorpagel; infant daughter; and infant granddaughter Julie Marie Hanson.

The family would like to thank her incredible health care team. When her health began to fail, she relied on Dr. Haider, Dr. Twardy, Dr. Kmecak, Dr. Evans (part of the Froedtert team), Dr. Ricci, Jaimie Deans, Dr. Welka, Dr. Elson, her physical therapists Brenda and Cheryl, and Dr. Massert. She was also cared for by Home Helpers and Lake Geneva Manor, and so many amazing health care workers; their love and compassion was endless; they were so good to Joyce. She would also like to thank Pastors Paul and Sara Vandeberg and the Immanuel Lutheran Church family.

The family suggests memorials be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church of Lake Geneva, Burlington Cemetery, and St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 700 N. Bloomfield Rd. Lake Geneva, on Saturday, June 8, 2024, at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends may visit with the family on Friday, June 7, 2024, from 4 until 8 p.m. at Schuette-Daniels Funeral Home, or on Saturday, June 8 from 10 until 11 a.m. at church. Joyce will be laid to rest next to her husband, Earl, at Burlington Cemetery on Saturday, June 8 at 3 p.m.

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