JoAnn Weisenberger Tolley

June 15, 2024


JoAnn Weisenberger Tolley died June 15, 2024, at Cranberry Court, Sparta, of a storm of issues, the root cause of which was Alzheimer’s disease.

She was born in the spring of 1937 into a family that loved to laugh, a trait that she had until days before she died. She often told tales of goofy things she and her brothers and sister did when they were children or pranks, they pulled and silly things that sent them into fits of laughter. Her parents participated as much as did their kids, in Mom’s memories.

As a teen, Mom went to school at Notre Dame – the high school, not the college, but she let people think it was the latter sometimes. When she graduated, Grandma urged her to get an education in something that would benefit Mom and any family she might have later so Mom chose to be a nurse. She loved “nurse’s training,” was very proud of her good grades, and she made sure everyone through the years knew about her first career. While she was working at a hospital a little while after graduation, she met Dad, who was one of her first patients – and just like that, there went the nursing career, and the former city girl moved to a farm with turkeys and cows.

From the moment they decided to have a family, Mom was a stay-at-home mother, and an extra playmate to her kids. She never had pets growing up, so she made up for lost time on the farms; she had a pet skunk named Merle-Clyde when she was first married, and she had other assorted pets, cows, chickens, cats, dogs, and calves through the years.

In 1963, three years after their daughter was born, Mom and Dad took the family to Spokane, Washington, where much of Dad’s family had migrated and where their son was born. In 1970, they moved to Granton, Wisconsin to farm. Before Alzheimer’s, those memories were Mom’s best and best-remembered. She was a make-do kind of person and she loved the life of a farmer’s wife, she loved the animals and gardening, she loved to cook and bake, and her bacon-grease chocolate-chip cookies were legendary. Or not so much.

In 1988, Mom and Dad sold their farm in Granton and moved to Arkansas, where they lived until Dad died in 1997. Mom moved to LaCrosse around the turn of the new century. She moved to Sparta, Wisconsin in 2017.

She is survived by her daughter, Terri Schlichenmeyer (Mark Moen); her son, Duane (Kathleen) Tolley; grandchildren Eric Tolley and Shelby Tolley, four granddogs; a sister, Judith Abner of Florida; sisters-in-law, Donna Weisenberger and Shirley Williams; many nieces and nephews; and special friends Linda and Joe Abbott, who indulged her love of the casino and who laughed at her dumb jokes. Mom had once wanted a large family, but that never happened. Instead, she collected “kids” who had mothers but needed an extra one because she had a big heart, an open ear, and love to share. In this capacity, she raised at least one other daughter and several extra sons; many of them survive her, too.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Alma and Cyril; her husband, Wayne; brothers Richard (Dick) and John (Jack); sister-in-law Elizabeth (Betty); brother-in-law Clyde Williams, brother-in-law Dave Abner; and two nieces.

Big thanks to Vicki at Inclusa, Dr. Fehrenbacher, Andrea from Hospice and Erin and the staff at Cranberry Court. There is a special, comfortable, chocolate-rich place in heaven for people like you. Seriously, just don’t go there any time soon.

Ever pragmatic to the end, JoAnn asked that there not be a funeral. “Burn me and throw me on the ground,” she said, and she didn’t want a memorial service.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, please made a donation in her name to your local Humane Society or to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. JoAnn would like that.

Sonnenburg Family Funeral Home is assisting the family.  Online condolences can be offered by visiting

Sonnenburg Family Funeral Home