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Marian Formanek

Marian Jane (Soppa) Formanek of La Crosse died peacefully Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, at Benedictine Manor in La Crosse.

She was born Dec. 2, 1920, in La Crosse to Martin and Julia (Piezina) Soppa of rural Arcadia.

Marian grew up on the family’s dairy farm in rural Arcadia. Mother attended Arcadia Catholic Grade School and graduated from Arcadia High School; she then attended Stevens Point Teachers College and received her teaching degree. After college she returned to the Arcadia area to teach at numerous elementary schools before moving to the Milwaukee area to work at Gimbles. After getting married to Joseph Formanek she moved to La Crosse and from 1960 to 1970 Marian taught elementary school at St. John’s Catholic School on La Crosse’s Northside and Holy Trinity Catholic School in La Crosse.

Marian was an accomplished musician and enjoyed entertaining throughout the Midwest. From the Avalon in La Crosse to the Surf Ballroom in Clearlake, Iowa, the traveling was sometimes long but she never complained because she loved to entertain. She played with numerous polka bands, but the Jolly Swiss Girls Orchestra out of Winona was her favorite. It was during one of these dances that she ran into another musician named Joe Formanek. At the time Joe was playing with the Jolly Swiss Boys and he swept her off her feet and before long she joined the Swiss Boys Band. It seemed that the two made wonderful music together so it was inevitable that Nov. 5, 1949, they were married at St. Stanislaus in Winona. One of the most beautiful photos we have is with Mom in her wedding dress and with Dad in his wedding attire playing a polka or two together in front of 1500 people at their wedding dance.

Marian was a wonderful mother and person who cared deeply for her husband, her three boys, her grandchildren and her Catholic faith. She instilled in us a great work ethic and a deep feeling of compassion toward others. After her teaching years were over she volunteered for over 28 years with the La Crosse Nutrient Program and played the organ and piano at the St. Francis Nursing home. Mom belonged to the Musician Union in La Crosse, St. Anne’s Ladies Society at Holy Trinity and the Catholic Daughters of America. She was a member for many years of the Holy Trinity Parish and was active member of the church choir.

Known to us affectionately as the “Polish Princess,” she lived her long life with love, dignity and compassion. She instilled in us through example of how to be good citizens and to be public servants all of our lives. Mom is back with dad now playing a polka or two for all in heaven to enjoy. Well done Mother, we love you and will miss you, but you will always be in our memories and in our hearts.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Joseph Jr.; her parents; one brother, Eugene and his wife, Alice; a stepbrother, Al Smith; her paternal mother and father-in-law, Joseph Sr. and Mary (Cibulka) Formanek; brother-in-law, Robert Steven Formanek (KIA World War II, Purple Heart recipient); two nephews, Lloyd Soppa and Ronald Soppa; and numerous other relatives.

She is survived by her three sons, Robert (Patricia) Formanek, La Crosse, Francis (Susan) Formanek, La Crosse and Joseph (Anne) Formanek, Onalaska; nine grandchildren, Craig Formanek, Danielle Swiggum, Krista Clinton, Ryan Formanek, Scott Thompson, Mark Formanek, Andrew Formanek, Kylie Formanek, Joseph “JJ” Formanek; a niece, Shirley Rebhahn; two nephews, Linus Soppa and Larry Soppa; and 18 great-grandchildren.

The family would like to thank those who cared for Mom at Benedictine Villa and Manor for their wonderful compassionate care over the past four years. We would also like to thank Father Cook the Chaplain at Benedictine Manor for his prayers, comfort and Masses over the last four years, and the Trinity Singers for singing for Mom at the Funeral Mass.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 13th and Park Ave. in La Crosse, with the Reverend Rick Roberts officiating. The Holy Trinity Singers (her students when she taught at Holy Trinity) will be the choir for the funeral. Visitation will be at the church from 9 a.m. until services. Burial will be at the Catholic Cemetery in La Crosse, immediately following services at the church.

Schumacher-Kish Funeral and Cremation Services of La Crosse is in charge of funeral arrangements. Online guestbook is available at

Memorials may be given to The All Abilities Trane Park Project and Holy Trinity Catholic Church La Crosse.

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the life of: Marian Formanek
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