Life Story / Obituary
Joseph Weidenfeller, 92, died at Ascension/All Saints hospital in Racine, Wisconsin, Friday May 13, following a brief illness that included a broken hip.
Joe’s first years are a mystery. He was born May 5th, 1930, probably in Michigan. His parent’s are unknown. During the midst of the Great Depression, his parent’s made an undoubtedly heart-wrenching decision that they could not care for Joe. At 5 years old, Joe was left at the Southern Wisconsin Center in Union Grove. It’s not known if he had any siblings, and we have no knowledge of any extended family. He was a ward of the state of Wisconsin the rest of his life
Joe continued to live at Southern Wisconsin Center for decades. He did not have any education there, never attending school, never learning to read or write. It is an unanswerable question about the man he would have been when properly educated.
During the national move to deinstitutionalize adults with developmental disabilities, Joe lived in several supervised apartment settings in Racine. He had many positive memories of friends and good times living somewhat independently. He was next a resident of Villa Saint Anna in the 1990’s. His final home was with New Beginnings, and then New Vision 2, community residential facilities in Mount Pleasant.
He enjoyed several opportunities to work in sheltered workshop settings as an adult. He spent many years with Careers Industries, and adored his time there. He was employed with Careers, and after retiring greatly enjoyed traveling Southeast Wisconsin with other colleagues in a Careers van. Over the years he benefited from so many kind and caring staff and administrators at Careers. Our sincerest thanks to Careers.DDIS, Inc, of Racine helped Joe with finances and social workers since at least 1998.
Joe had a number of legal guardians who volunteered to assist him with personal decisions and finances. Sadly, we cannot remember all of them. In 1998 Grant Youngquist was appointed guardian and remains so to this day,
He was very kind, pleasant, and loved to give compliments to those around him. Joe never married, but often called his caretakers his “wife”. He was a special guy, and his caretakers are his family.
Joe loved mashed potatoes. He enjoyed Channel 12 from Milwaukee, and met several of their on-air personalities. He attended politics, especially Presidential politics. Joe was able to mark events by recalling the President at the time. He loved God and was devoutly Catholic. After retiring he watched the Catholic Channel all day, every day. His faith was a constant his entire life.
Joe will be cremated. He wished to have his remains returned to the Southern Wisconsin Center. No services are planned at this time. If there is enough interest a Memorial Service may be arranged. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to share memories. Memorials may be made to Careers Industries or New Vision 2 group home.
~ "It turns out we don't get to know everything."