Donna Mae Vilstrup, age 85, passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at Sylvan Crossings Memory Care in Fitchburg. She was born on June 24, 1928, in Cushing, Wis., to Stanley and Esther Larson. She graduated from Luck High School and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She married her high school sweetheart, Dick, on June 3, 1950. They raised their three children in Middleton after locating to the Madison area when Dick joined the staff at UW Madison.
Donna was a dedicated Master teacher, starting with all eight grades in a rural school and finishing with her favorite second grade. She taught hundreds of students of two generations in the Middleton community. She provided leadership at West Middleton School as it grew from the original two room school to the large modern school it is today. Her greatest joy was to see her students succeed and achieve new goals and contribute to the community. She retired in 1987 and survived breast cancer and valiantly fought the ravages of Alzheimers the past ten years. Donna actively participated in a variety of community activities including chairing multiple Red Cross Blood drives and volunteering at Easter Seals, St. Mary's Hospital, Daughters of Demeter, and the West Middleton Lutheran Church. We all will miss her courage and attitude toward life with never a complaint and always a smile facing life's challenges. She and the family appreciated the care and comfort of her Agrace Hospice team and her wonderful staff at Sylvan Crossings Memory Center. Without speaking a word she won the hearts of everyone who worked with her. She was an inspiration to us all.
Donna is survived by her loving husband, Dick, son Michael (Jacquie), daughters Pam Pautsch and Kris Vilstrup (Rick Matson), sisters Bev Medvec and Norma Johnson, brother Roger Nagel (Donnis), grandchildren Jessica Ammann (Nick), Erik Vilstrup, Adam Pautsch (Rebecca), Breahan Eve Pautsch, Jamie Pautsch, Alex Matson and Karly Matson; step grandchildren Valerie Wulf, Tiffany Wilke (Nathan) and Derek Hildebrandt (Ashley), ten great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and family.
She was preceded in death by parents Stanley and Esther Larson, parents-in-law George and Mabel Vilstrup, brother Stanley (Bud) Larson, brother-in-laws Reuben Johnson, Bob Vilstrup, Jerry Medvec, Bernard Schroeder and niece Linda Larson.
Memorial Services will be held at WEST MIDDLETON LUTHERAN CHURCH, 3763 Pioneer Road, Verona at 11:00 AM on Friday, March 14, 2014. Visitation will be held on Friday from 9:00 AM until the time of the service at the church. Donations can be made to Agrace HospiceCare, Inc., West Middleton Lutheran Church or to the Alzheimer-Dementia Association. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.