Colleen Mae (Brown) Munger, age 56, of Janesville, WI, died peacefully at home on Monday, April 29, 2013, following more than five years of battling ovarian cancer.
In the last three years, she suffered the recurrence of her cancer, the loss of her parents, as well as the loss of her parents-in-law. She was born in Janesville on Jan. 29, 1957, the daughter of Merritt "Brownie" E. and Regena M. (McNally) Brown. She was the baby in the family and, like all of the Browns, was raised in the family home behind their father's place of employment at "Fire Station Number 1."
As "Daddy's Little Girl," she would frequently visit her father and the other firefighters. Before going to St. Mary's School, she met her future husband in Kindergarten at Adams Elementary School, later meeting him again over the sale of a "stereo system" at Radio Shack.
After graduating from Craig High School in 1975, Colleen attended the University of Wisconsin-Rock County and the UW-Oshkosh for Nursing and eventually the UW-Milwaukee where she earned her bachelors degree in Occupational Therapy (OT). Colleen married her life's partner, Bradford S. Munger on Oct. 2, 1982, in a Janesville service officiated by Brad's uncle, Rev. George Munger.
Vacationing and family time were always very important to Colleen. As a family they enjoyed numerous camping trips around the country, two cruises, and once took their older son to Disney World when Nick was a youngster. In 2006, the family traveled to Ethiopia to adopt their second son, Tegegn (pn: Tah-GAIN). Cancer cut short her dreams of taking the boys to Disney World, Germany, and eventually returning to Tegegn's birthplace in Ethiopia.
During her school years she worked at McDonald's, Marc's Big Boy and Pizza Hut, and Cards Plus in Pittsburgh. Professionally she worked as an OT in a variety of settings for a number of agencies including M.J. Care and Infinity Rehab, and in facilities such as Mt. Carmel in Milwaukee, Woodstock in Kenosha, Fairhaven in Whitewater, Rock Haven and St. Elizabeth's in Janesville, Beloit Health and Rehab, Beloit Premier Care, Alpine Fireside in Rockford and Woodbridge in Brodhead. She was a member of the M.J. Care Founders Forum. Recently as a hobby she sold Premier Designs Jewelry and Thirty-one gifts and bags. She was a member of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, a founding member of the Unitarian Fellowship of Rock County, and previously a member of First Church in Milwaukee.
She is survived by her loving husband, Brad Munger of Janesville; her cherished children, Nicholas "Nick" M. Munger (age 20) and Tegegn M. Munger (age 8). The youngest of six children she is survived by her five deeply grieving siblings: Chet (Ruth) Brown of Pewaukee, Thomas (Lori) Brown of Janesville, Joanne (Clarence) Shields of Janesville, Barbara Nichols of Milwaukee and Dale Brown of Albany, WI (formerly of Racine). She was a treasured sister-in-law of Barton "Bart" Munger of Milton, and Christine (Munger) and Stefan Glasauer of Koenigsbrunn, Germany; and the adored aunt, cousin, and niece to many loving extended family on the Brown and Munger sides. She was preceded in death by her parents, and brother-in-law, Larry Nichols.
Colleen will be sorely missed in her most important quest in life, to be a loving, adoring, and attentive mother and spouse. Friends and family will never forget her big hugs and kisses, her good humor of being the teased "little sister," and her retaliatory butt pinching! We are ever grateful for the many acts of support and love shown by our family, friends and colleagues--a gift we can only pay forward. We are grateful to Seiko Diane Yamada, MD and Connie Stewart, RN at the University of Chicago as well as the entire team for the excellent and compassionate care Colleen received, enabling us to enjoy more time with Colleen. And more recently we are indebted to the quality care provided by St. Mary's Hospital and Agrace Hospice. We know that Colleen would urge all women to "listen to the whisper" of ovarian cancer (www.WisconsinOvarianCancer.com) towards early diagnosis and treatment.
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9, 2013, at the Janesville Rotary Gardens with Rev. Michael Schuler of the First Unitarian Society of Madison officiating.
A visitation will be held from 1:30 p.m. to time of service at Rotary Gardens and also on Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at SCHNEIDER APFEL SCHNEIDER & SCHNEIDER FUNERAL HOME. Interment will be held at a later date.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, Colleen would want memorials to be made to Nick and Tegegn's College fund (Blackhawk Credit Union), the First Unitarian Society of Madison (www.FUSMadison.org), the Unitarian Fellowship of Rock County (www.UnitarianRockCounty.org), Wisconsin Lions Camp (www.WisconsinlionsCamp.com), or the international adoption agency of Children's Home Society and Family Services (www.CHSFS.org).