Jean Penn Loerke

Dec. 31, 1934 – May 22, 2014

Jean Penn Loerke died on May 22, 2014. She was born in Madison on Dec. 31, 1934, the only child of Francis and Julia (Nemeth-Stefik) Penn.

She graduated from St. James grade school, West high school, UW-Madison (bachelor’s in journalism) and UW-Milwaukee (master’s in history).

Jean worked a number of years in advertising and public relations. In 1972, Jean became historian for Waukesha County and curator of the Waukesha County Museum. In 1974, the position was upgraded to director. Jean held this position until her retirement in 1990.

During her time at the museum, Jean headed many committees, gave many lectures, hosted tours and authored three books on state and local history. She also wrote a regular magazine column for Landmark Magazine.

Jean is survived by her son, Pieter Loerke; daughter- in-law, Cathy Loerke; granddaughter, Melissa Loerke all of Madison; special cousins Carol Hildebrandt Lied of Milwaukee and Doris Penn Habich of Tucson, Ariz.; special friends Sally Morey Mielke of Appleton, Jan Grotjan of Eagle, Bonnie Rice McGuire of North Carolina and Audrey Wiesen of Ohio; and lifelong friend Betty Schuchardt of Madison.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her godparents, Pete and Marie Hildebrandt; special uncle, Cliff Penn; longtime friend, Grace Bowden of Vermont; childhood friend, Martha Feiler Wilkington; and longtime canine companion, Red. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St.

James Catholic Church, 1204 St. James Court, Madison, on Saturday, May 31, at 11:00 a.m. Visitation will be held on Friday, May 30, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Joyce-Ryan Funeral Home, 5701 Odana Road, Madison, and at the church from 10:00 a.m. until the time of Mass.

Burial will be at the Durward’s Glen Cemetery near Baraboo.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the UW-Madison School for Journalism for scholarship purposes.

Joyce-Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 608-274-1000, is serving the family. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: