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Jean Gitz Bassett — April 23, 1924 – Aug. 6, 2018

One advantage of growing old is to be able to create my own final word. By writing my own obituary, I hope to share my legacy in a meaningful way, contributing my own personal thoughts to my final testament. I write the following in a joyful and uplifting way, expressing appreciation for the love spread around me in my lifetime.

Born Priscilla Jean Gitz April 23, 1924, in Freeport, Ill., to my father, Edward Gitz, and my mother, Ethel (Fox) Gitz. I grew up surrounded by their love. Graduating from Carleton University with a music/piano major, my career began in New York City as a staff member to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. Two years later brought me to KOA Radio, Denver, Colo., and from there to Colorado Springs, as program director to a newly established radio and TV station with the call letters KRDO. It was in Colorado in the late ’40s and 1950s that my business partnership also became my lifelong family.

Moving to La Crosse in 1957 as co owner and operator of WLCX AM and WLXR FM, with Joe and Evelyn Rohrer and, later, Joe (BJ) Rohrer, the Rohrers became my very own special family, along with a loving daughter-in-law and incredible mother, Mary Rohrer, La Crosse; and my beautiful goddaughters, Dr. Mary Jo Rohrer-Hull MD (Neil), San Antonio, Texas, Rebecca Jo Rohrer (Duke Ellington), Pretoria, South Africa; and godson, Joseph Hamilton Rohrer (Meredith), Steamboat Springs, Colo. Ever so precious and forever special to me are my great-goddaughters, Britainy Jo and Chelsea Jo, San Antonio, and Evianna Jo and Hanna Jo, Pretoria, South Africa. Further survived are many cousins from Freeport, and Steve Basset, Madison, Wis., and Chuck (Kris) Bassett, Holmen, by being joined in marriage to their father, Royal Bassett in 1984. Royal died in 1995.

Joy in my life comes from many community activities in serving as President to United Way, La Crosse Chamber of Commerce, Salvation Army, La Crosse Public Education Foundation, Mobile Meals, La Crosse Downtown Rotary Foundation, and State Chairman of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission (Great River Road).

Additional board memberships included Northern States Power Co., (Xcel Energy), Wisconsin Broadcasters, UW-L Foundation, WLSU, Oktoberfest USA, Franciscan Mayo Foundation, Coulee Region Business Center, La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, La Crosse Jail Ministry, City Vision 2000, United Coulee Region, Downtown Rotary, Bethany St. Joseph Corp, Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Viterbo University Board of Advisors, and YMCA. Memorials to any of the nonprofits above are a fitting tribute.

Deacon and Elder of the First Presbyterian Church, it was a special honor to serve as Commissioner to the 1973 General Assembly. Special joy and appreciation comes from gatherings with my La Crosse friends; the morning and evening sounds in the backyard of my much beloved home; and the privilege of travel to so many world countries.

It is humbling to have awards bestowed from Viterbo’s Pope John XXIII Award, UW-L Chancellor’s Award, Jaycee Boss of the Year, BPW Woman of the Year, Mrs. Oktoberfest and Parade Marshall, Volunteer Fund Raiser of the Year, Chamber of Commerce President’s Award, Outstanding Senior Presbyterian-First Presbyterian Church, Rotarian Paul Harris Recipient, LADCO Distinguished Award, Gundersen Heritage Society member, Women’s Fund Leadership Award, and Iverson Freking Award. These awards are a reminder of the beauty of the “can do” attitude of the people of La Crosse.

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Memorials to any of these organizations are also a fitting tribute.

Living in La Crosse is a beautiful adventure creating many personal blessings. And so a celebration of my life is planned at 10.30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 13, at First Presbyterian Church, West Avenue and Cass St. The Rev Margaret Jumonville is officiating. Father Bob Cook is meeting and greeting 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. prior to the memorial service.

The compassionate care and gentleness of the Hillview Skilled Care staff and the Brookdale Assisted Living staff represent a dedication never to be forgotten. The special care provided by advocate, Elena Weaver was God sent. The dedicated friendship, kindness, and patience of Don and Nancy Smith in my final journey is deeply appreciated. And the ongoing patience and keen understanding of Mary Rohrer and her daughters, MJ and Rebecca, and son, Joe, to my daily living challenges for the past two years, is an enduring act of love and appreciation. Special thanks goes to those who make my memorial service as joyful and uplifting as I prefer it to be: Special Export Quartet, First Presbyterian Church organist, and the Greg Balfany Trio, at the lunch in the Waterfront Cargill Room following the church service.

My final word and legacy is the donation of my body to science.

My life has been my symphony, a symphony taught to me by my wonderfully loving father as I grew up.

My Symphony

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open hearts; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony. By Edward Gitz

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