Joan E. Papenfuss Profile Photo

Joan E. Papenfuss

August 26, 1931 — September 15, 2023


Joan E. Papenfuss


Joan E. (Lubinski) (Merchlewitz) Papenfuss, age 92, of Winona, passed away on Friday, September 15, 2023, at the Gundersen Health System Hospital in La Crosse, WI.

She was born on August 26, 1931, in Winona, to Felix and Stella (Scharmach) Lubinski.  Joan was a graduate of West Salem High School, and received her associate degree from Western Wisconsin Technical College.

Joan was united in marriage with George L. Merchlewitz on August 12, 1949, and he preceded her in death on September 3, 1980.  She later married Wayne Papenfuss on December 1, 1984, and he preceded her in death on November 7, 2000.

Joan was employed as a medical technician at St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse, and later with Gundersen Hospital in La Crosse, prior to her retirement. She was also employed as a waitress at Maple Grove Country Club for over 25 years.

She was a member of the ASCP, the VFW Auxiliary, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka.  She was an active volunteer with the VFW Auxiliary and was well known around Winona as the “Poppy Lady.”

Joan will be remembered as a watercolor artist, passing many works of art to family and friends. She loved cooking large meals for family and friends, making sure everyone was well fed. She was a great game player, her favorites being BINGO and card games, such as schafskopf, gin, poker, and cribbage. Another favorite was knitting socks for family and friends and sweaters for new babies, family, and friends.

She enjoyed spending time at her daughter Jorja’s house in Ohio which she would visit a couple of times a year to can tomatoes, apples, pears, and peaches and to just be in the country again and enjoy the outdoors. Buzz and his wife would come to Ohio from Tennessee to spend time with Joan.

Up until the end, she was busy doing things to make others happy. She will be missed by many.

Joan is survived by her children: Blaise “Buzz” (Sherri) Merchlewitz, Bonita (James) Byer, and Jorja (Carl) Mottayaw; grandchildren: Travis (Ina) Byer and Brooke (David) Sanders; great-grandchildren: Flynn, Lena, and Kayden; stepchildren: Judy (Joe) Losinski; Dwayne (Aletta) Papenfuss; Debra (Dale) Kennebeck; and Betty (Mike) Reeves; several step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren; as well as other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her husbands; parents; brothers: John, Clarence, and Roman; and a sister, Rosemary Riska.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 AM on Wednesday, September 20, 2023, at the Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka.  The Very Reverend Patrick Arens will officiate.  There will not be any visitation held prior to the Mass.

Joan will be laid to rest at the Neshonoc Cemetery in West Salem, WI.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Winona VFW (East 3rd Street, Winona, MN 55987) in Joan’s name.

Online condolences or memories may be left for Joan’s family at

Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joan E. Papenfuss, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

The Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka

625 E 4th St, Winona, MN 55987

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