Joyce Annette (Jo) Voight
Following an amazingly joyful and full life, Joyce Annette (Jo) Voight, 94, passed away Friday, May 17, 2019, at Brookdale Senior Living in La Crosse.
Jo was born in Tomah, Aug. 9, 1924, to Hollie and Genevieve Lord and spent her early years with her parents, a brother and a sister, in southwest Wisconsin. She had vivid memories of a happy childhood in which music played a prominent role; her family sang harmony while doing the dishes, and visits to her Uncle Charlie's house in Ontario, near Wildcat Mountain State Park, always included singing around the piano.
Her mother was a telephone operator until she married and her father had a long career with Wisconsin Power and Light. During her school years, Jo excelled at spelling, science and singing. She dreamed of going on the road as the lead singer for a band, but her father forbade those plans. In her later years, she was grateful for that edict, saying that her life had been far more fulfilling than she'd ever imagined it could be.
Although Jo, a pretty girl with dark eyes and hair, had plenty of boyfriends in high school, she fell hard when she first saw Robert Charles Voight in his Eagle Scout uniform. By the end of their first date, she knew she had found her life partner, noting his intelligence, personality, kindness and good looks. Soon after Jo graduated from high school, as Bob had done two years earlier, they were married. Their small church wedding was held Oct. 31, 1942, in Waupun, Wis., and followed by a honeymoon at the Whiting Hotel in Stevens Point, Wis., a trip made possible by borrowing Bob's grandfather's car and using gas-rationing coupons.
In the early years of their marriage, while Bob was going to college in Oshkosh, Wis., and driving a city bus to pay tuition, Jo worked as a secretary at the Soo Line Railroad. When Bob was sent overseas in World War II, Jo returned to Waupun, working as an assistant for one of the town's few physicians.
When Bob (thankfully) returned from the war, the young couple resumed a remarkable journey that would span six decades. In those early years, Bob earned three degrees and taught both high school and college, and they welcomed two daughters into the world. In 1959, they moved to La Crosse, where Bob joined the history and political science faculty at UW-La Crosse and eventually served as dean of arts, letters and science. Other than briefly relocating to Minnesota to launch a new college, Bob and Jo embraced La Crosse, raising their family and forming lasting friendships through activities at the university, Christ Episcopal Church, the public library, community theater and more. An enduring aspect of their social life included a tight knit group of friends who dined together each Wednesday night for decades. Following Bob's retirement, the two traveled extensively, spending two years in England, Greece and Spain, when Bob returned to the classroom to teach American foreign policy at American military bases. Jo was always an enthusiastic traveling companion, making a home and new friends, wherever they lived.
Throughout her life, Jo was known as a bright and inquisitive woman, a loving wife and mother, a compassionate liberal and a steadfast friend. Although she co-owned an ice cream parlor with her dear friend, Jo LeRoy for a time, her true contributions had no monetary reward. She found countless ways to help others, giving her time and energy to food banks and Meals on Wheels and proudly volunteering at St. Francis Medical Center and Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, for more than 20 years. Her ready smile and sympathetic ear brightened days for health care staff members and hospital visitors alike.
A voracious reader with a keen interest in politics and current events, Jo combined innate intelligence with compassion, offering words of wisdom and comfort to those in need. She had a priceless gift, the ability to talk to anyone about anything. She instantly put people at ease, finding out what was on their minds, often learning their life stories and ultimately, gaining new friends. As she listened to someone's worries, she would offer comforting words and a hug. "Sometimes life is hard," she'd say, "but things eventually work out for the best. You'll see."
Jo and Bob celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2002. They were true soul mates, turning to each other in good times and bad, solving problems in concert and raising their daughters with love and laughter. The first time Bob convinced Jo to go golfing, she sank a hole-in-one, creating yet another story to share. Bob was diagnosed with lung cancer in early 2004 and died shortly thereafter. "Continue doing good works," he urged Jo during his final days, and she did precisely that.
Jo is survived by her daughters, Pam Nash (J. Peter Shaw) and Cindy Foss (Kurt Foss), of Madison, Wis.; her granddaughter, Rebecca Jo Wilson (Patrick Hamilton) and great-grandson, Oliver Hamilton, of Long Beach, Calif.; and her grandson, Steffen Robert Foss (José Muñoz), of Washington, D.C.
Per Jo's request, no memorial service will be held.
We hear her laughter. We feel her hugs. We give thanks for having this special woman in our lives. Rest in peace, Jo.
Heartfelt thanks go to Dr. John Udell and the Brookdale staff for their compassionate care. The family requests memorial gifts to the Robert Voight Scholarship at UW-L Foundation Inc.
The Dickinson Family Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements. Please visit www.dickinsonfuneralhomes.com to share online condolences.