LuAnn Schwai (nee Zuern) of West Bend was born to eternal life on June 15, 2008 at the age of 80. She was the beloved wife of the late Joseph A. Schwai.
She was born Oct. 5, 1927 in Milwaukee to the late Frank and Margaret (nee Weber) Zuern, and lived on the family farm at Pike Lake, near Hartford.
After graduating from St. Killian’s Catholic Grade School and Hartford High School, she enrolled in Oshkosh State College, graduating in 1950.
She taught country school for two years at Maple Lawn School in the town of Polk.
LuAnn married Joseph A. Schwai on Oct. 27, 1951 at St. Killian Catholic Church in Hartford, and moved to the Schwai family residence in Cedar Creek, where the family operated the Schwai restaurant, store, tavern and dance hall. She left teaching to assist Joe in managing the family business and starting their own family.
On July 1, 1957, Joe and LuAnn purchased the Schwai business from Joe’s mother, Marie Schwai, and legends were born of the many special parties, which followed: New Year’s Eve Party, Valentine’s Day Party, national Tiddly Wink tournaments, horseshoe tournaments, the unique and widely acclaimed annual Wild Game Feed, special recipes of wild red fox, coyote, muskrat, raccoon, and venison goulash were a few prepared specialties served to the guests, the ever-popular St. Patrick’s Day (which featured the Green Pig raffle for the benefit of The Threshold of Washington County, a non-profit corporation that employs the disabled individuals of the area), West Bend Germanfest featured LuAnn’s homemade goulash, dumplings, red cabbage, and Schwai's famous brats, Santa Claus evening was held yearly for the children of the many patrons of the Schwai business.
While tending bar 40-plus years at Schwai’s Country Tavern, Store and Hall, LuAnn greeted customers with her legendary greeting, “Hello Sun-shine.”
LuAnn, Joe and son Tom started a catering business at the request of the Gehl Co. of West Bend in July of 1976. Gehl had a national meeting of its visiting dealers from around the world over a period of three weeks, and the Schwai catering business served food to a total of 3,000 employees and guests. The catering business added much excitement and work for the Schwai family and their employees over the years. The many recipes used by LuAnn have been continued as the business continues to thrive.
LuAnn was active in many charitable organizations. She was on the board of directors for The Threshold, Inc. of Washington County, founder of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Green Pig celebration at Schwai’s Tavern and Hall, which raised more than $100,000 during 19 years of parties for that organization. She also founded Inner Wheel for Wives of Slinger Rotarians in 1985, and received the Paul Harris Award. She was a member of Christian Mothers of St. Peter’s Catholic Church of Slinger, a member of the Jackson American Legion Auxiliary and the Slinger Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.
During the past several years, LuAnn has kept busy as a commissioned Stephan’s minister and abider, serving the elderly and sick residents in the Cedar Bay Health and Rehab Center, praying, reading, singing, or talking with individual residents, preparing some to meet the Lord.
LuAnn has led a group Rosary each Sunday before Mass at Cedar Bay East for a number of years.
A copy of her biography, “The Life and Times of LuAnn Zuern Schwai," written in 2005, can be read in the Washington County Historical Society’s library at the Old Courthouse in West Bend. It is an entertaining and interesting read on this wonderful woman we know as “Sunshine.”
LuAnn is the cherished mother of Michael (Cathy) Schwai of West Bend, Patricia (Gene) Puestow of Jackson, Susan (Steven) Giebel of Manitowoc, and Tom (Kathey) Schwai of West Bend; loving grandmother of Becky, Andrea, Matt and Pam Schwai of West Bend, Sara (Jim) Lowe of Milwaukee, Tim and Tom Puestow of Jackson, Dr. Mark (Kim) Giebel of Mankato, Minn., Carrie Ann Giebel of Grand Forks, N.D., Kimmarie Giebel of Manitowoc, Liz and Lisa Schwai of West Bend; step-grandsons, Matt
(Laura) Ostry of Appleton and Andrew (Stacey) of Dallas; great grandmother of Seth Schwai of West Bend and step-great grandmother of Olivia Ostry of Dallas; treasured siblings, Peggy (Robert) Stinson of Seattle, Thomas (Elaine) Zuern of Hartford, Donna Gehring of Hartford, and sister-in-law Rose Schwai of West Bend. She is further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.
Preceding her in death were beloved husband Joseph A. Schwai, parents Frank and Margaret (nee Weber) Zuern, brother Rev. Ted Zuern, S.J., brothers-in-law James Gehring and Robert Schwai, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and special family friend, Richard Krohn.
A celebration of LuAnn’s life will take place at the Phillip Funeral Home in West Bend on June 22, 2008 from 1 to 7 p.m., with a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. An additional visitation will take place at St. Peter’s Catholic Church of Slinger, 202 E. Washington St., on June 23, 2008 from 9 to 10:45 a.m. followed by a Mass of Christian burial at 11 a.m. with lunch to follow.
Burial will be beside her beloved husband, Joe, at the Cedar Creek Cemetery after the funeral dinner at 3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to The Threshold, Inc., 600 Rolfs Road, West Bend, WI 53095; St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 203 Washington St., Slinger, WI 53086; or Cedar Lake Health Care and
Rehabilitation Center, 5595 Highway Z, West Bend, WI 53095.