Joan Lou Oberle

Born: July 5, 1936

Died: Nov. 8, 2017

Joan Lou Oberle, wife and mother of six, died on Nov. 8, 2017. She was 81.

Joan, a real fire cracker, was born on July 5, 1936, to George C. and Lucille M. (Rusch) Berton and grew up during the depression and World War II. With the state of her parents’ health and being the first born daughter in a family with 12 children, Joan raised many of her brothers and sisters. She had a difficult childhood where the family was on government assistance and a “normal” home life was virtually nonexistent.

There were happy times with grandparents, George N. and Susan (Meyer) Berton and Albert and Isabel (Cronce) Rusch. Her grandfather, George N. Berton, ran a successful tavern and beer distribution business located at 121 S. Washington St. in Shawano. Joan remembered listening to music in the tavern through the vent in the upstairs living quarter’s floor and grandmother Susan constantly baking and cooking in the tavern’s kitchen. Grandparents Albert and Isabel Rusch helped the family as much as they could with the large garden they tended every year.

Joan attended school in Shawano and Bonduel and graduated from Shawano High School in 1955. Joan met Lowell James Oberle when she worked at Janke’s restaurant, located just west of Shawano Paper Mill and they married on Oct. 22, 1955 at the Sacred Heart rectory in Shawano. Jim and Joan had six children in the 1950s and 1960s and, with her own childhood being so difficult, Joan lived for today and cherished family life and raising her children. She instilled in her children the attributes of love for all, and a can-do, never give up attitude. The one constant in Joan’s life were children, where she was raising sisters and brothers, her own children and grandchildren, and children she babysat during her entire life. She was an accomplished cook and baker where family could always count on large family gatherings filled with food and bakery. In addition raising a family, Joan was a waitress at Lee’s Restaurant on the corner of Green Bay Street and Airport Road for many years. Joan was a devoted Catholic who found solace and comfort in God and the church when there was nowhere else to turn.

Joan Lou Oberle is survived by her sons and daughters; Michael D. (Sylvia) Oberle, of Shawano, Steven L. (partner Connie) Oberle, of Bayfield, Cheryl A. (John) LeMere, of Green Bay, Wendy S. (Steve) Esch, of Shawano, Mary K. (fiancé Brian) Bartz, of Shawano, and Thomas J. (Linda) Oberle, of Algoma; and brothers and sisters, George (Carol) Berton, of Menasha, Marsha (George) Davis, of Sherwood, Diane (Robert) Bohm, of Green Bay, Tom (Barbara) Berton, of Neenah, Wayne (Linda) Berton, of Neenah, Jeffery Berton, of Appleton, Patty (Tony) Boulanger, of Green Bay, Peter Berton, of Hawaii, and Richard Berton, of Milwaukee. Grandchildren include Luke (Betsy) Wallace, of Dubuque, Logan Wallace, of Shawano, Sara, Emma, Elizabeth and Clayton Esch, of Shawano, Brandon Oberle, of Portland, Oregon, David and Chelsea LaPratt, of Shawano, Jasmine Bartz, of Shawano, Zack and Jarrett Oberle, of Shawano, and great-grandchild Kennedy Wallace of Dubuque.

Preceding her in death was her husband of 62 years, Lowell James Oberle, who died just four days before her on Nov. 3, 2017. Also preceding her in death were Lucille M. and George C. Berton; brothers, Larry Berton and Randall Berton; and a granddaughter, Janel Oberle.

A funeral service for Joan will be held on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 12:30 p.m. at the Mickelson Funeral Home in Shawano. Relatives and friends may call after 10:30 a.m. until the time of services. Private family entombment will be in the Sacred Heart Cemetery in Shawano.

Mickelson Funeral & Cremation Service of Shawano is assisting the family with arrangements. Please share online condolences at

The family would like to extend a sincere thank you to the Shawano ThedaCare Hospice staff.