Gena R. (Schumann) Barenz
Dec. 5, 1927 ó Aug. 22, 2017

Gena R. (Schumann) Barenz died August 22, 2017, in Milwaukee, from a heart attack. She was born December 5, 1927, in Watertown, the daughter of Walter and Irma (nee Schultz) Schumann. Her father, Walter, was a pastor and when she was young they moved to La Crosse, where Gena grew up and made many close friends while she attended school at First Lutheran in La Crosse.

Then her father accepted a call to Northwestern College and Prep School when she was a teenager and the family moved back to Watertown. She attended Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., briefly and returned home and took business classes whereupon she became a secretary. She was very proficient at typing and was tested at up to 115 words per minute. While working in Watertown she met, through her brother Robert, her future husband Norman Barenz. He too studied for the ministry and after they were married in 1950 in Watertown, Norm was assigned to a new mission congregation in White Sulphur Springs, in west central Montana. They enjoyed many interesting experiences out west and their first child, son John, was born there. After two years, they were reassigned to St. Paulís Lutheran Church in Livingston, Mont., where they spent the next seven years. Their next two children, Susan and Mark, were born in Livingston. They enjoyed their years in Montana and would often stay at Genaís brothersí, Walter and Robertís, homes in South Dakota and Minnesota on their way back to Wisconsin to visit family.

Gena was a great help to Norman in his pastoral ministry as she had a strong background in piano. Even though she only had three organ lessons, as she often said, still she mastered playing the organ for church services which she did throughout Normís ministry in Montana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

After nearly 10 years in Montana, they moved to Wisconsin serving at St. Johnís Lutheran in Slades Corners for five years. Their last child, Beth, was born on an Easter Sunday in Slades Corners. Gena was not able to play organ for services that Sunday! Then, they moved on to Our Saviourís Lutheran in Zion, Ill., for almost 10 years. And then, back to Hartland for 20 years. All these years Gena faithfully accompanied for most of Normís services and was a dedicated wife and mother, besides serving in various ways in those congregations.

In the mid-1960s, Gena went back to work outside the home as a secretary working at offices for Snap-On Tools in Illinois and Wisconsin, then she worked many years for Essential Chemicals in Merton ó a small company that was very good to her and at which she enjoyed working very much. In 1990, they moved to Hot Springs, Ark., where Norm served as a semi-retired pastor and Gena again played organ for services. Two years later they moved back to Hartland and retired to the duplex Norm had built there. After Norm died in 2006, Gena lived in Hartland for two more years, during which time she also battled cancer. She moved to Fond du Lac for a year and a half,  and then decided to move to Luther Haven in Milwaukee where she spent her remaining years until her death.
Although she often served out of sight in the balconies of many churches, still she faithfully served thousands and thousands of believers over the years with her God-given musical gifts.

Gena is survived by her children, John Barenz of Denver, Colo., Susan (Orville) Breitkreutz of rural Ixonia, Mark (Dawn) Barenz of Mount Calvary, Beth Barenz of Kenosha; her brother, Walter Schumann of Watertown; and sister-in-law Doris Schumann of Jefferson; her 11 grandchildren, Amy, Becky, Paul, Andrew, Ryan, Tim, Lisa, Dana, Stephanie, Jenni and Matthew; 11 great-grandchildren; also many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Irma; her husband, Norman; her brother Robert; her daughter-in-law Christine; sisters-in-law Joyce, Ruby, Alice, Heddy, Ellen and Margie; and her brothers-in-law Henry and Roland. ďBlessed are the dead which die in the Lord.Ē

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, August 26, at 3 p.m. at Hafemeister Funeral Home with the Rev. Daniel Schumann officiating. Burial will take place at Lutheran Cemetery in Watertown. Family and friends may gather at the funeral home from 2 p.m. until the time of the service.

Memorials, if desired, may be directed to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Tuition Assistance.

Hafemeister Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Watertown, 920-261-2218, is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at