Lucy Ann Dunn, age 62, died on Tuesday, July 20 2021, at home after a three year battle with stage four pancreatic cancer.
Lucy was born in Prairie du Sac, WI, to Joseph and Lucille Miller in 1959. She was the seventh child of ten and spent her childhood working on her family’s dairy farm with the rest of her siblings. There was never a quiet or dull moment on the farm as the seven boys and three girls were always up to something that kept daily life entertaining. Lucy learned to laugh often and easily while also gaining a strong work ethic that she would carry with her the rest of her life.
When Lucy was 16 her mother died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 49. Lucy and her siblings picked up her mother’s home duties and continued forward as they had learned to do. Once Lucy completed high school she decided to set out on her own. She worked a number of jobs including as a restaurant table busser at Devil’s Lake Ski Lodge. After several years working and living independently, she set her mind that she would go to college and find a respected profession.
Lucy attended Baraboo University and completed her degree to become an Associate Registered Nurse. She found that she was a natural caregiver and that her joyful disposition and affinity for hard work were an excellent fit for the job. A friend of hers had a summer job at Badger Camp, a camp for developmentally disabled children and adults, and encouraged Lucy to join to become a part of the nursing staff. Lucy jumped at the chance and it was there that she met her future husband, Michael (Mike) Dunn. Since that time, Lucy has often told of the first time she saw Mike walk into a room. He was late so he came in alone to a camp meeting. In each telling of the story Lucy would report that her first thought as he entered was “Who is that man?!” as his long, feathered hair gently bobbed with each step going “fwoof, fwoof, fwoof”. Lucy was smitten. She spent the summer in pursuit of Mike and although he initially wasn’t sure, they found a connection that would last for years to come.
After a long courtship that rang up $300 phone bills while Lucy briefly worked in Arizona, Lucy and Mike were married in 1984 in Lancaster, WI. Mike had received his bachelor’s degree in education and after a stint in Iowa, he was offered the chance to work as interim director at Badger Camp. Lucy and Mike established their life together but Lucy desired to continue her education so she could receive her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. She set her sights on Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. She and Mike rented a small two bedroom home across the river in Wisconsin on the Richard Lettner farm, where they lived for the next five years. Mike and Lucy started their family in that tiny home; in January of 1987 they had Jacob. Lucy desired a big family like the one she had growing up and just over a year after Jacob was born, Daniel (Danny) arrived and soon after, Matthew (Matt). After the third, Mike requested a pause on the growth of their family while they figured out life with three energetic, personable boys.
As Lucy entered into motherhood she began to deepen her faith and joined a small bible study group with other mothers. She became more and more involved in the church over the years. When she and Mike purchased their home in 1991, they joined St Mary’s Catholic church in Galesville. They met many other families and with Mike working at the local school and Lucy as a nurse at Winona Health, they found fulfillment in acts of service within the community. For Lucy, acts of service were everything to her. At the church, she was the core of the choir both playing the piano and singing. She served on multiple committees and was also always available to help other parishioners in need. She was so active in the community that the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus named her “Person of the Year”. In her professional life, she was an OB nurse for more than two decades helping to deliver many babies and support families as they started this new phase of their lives. For the last nine years of her career, she worked in hospice care. At first she was unsure how she would feel about the change but she quickly grew into the role. She often commented on how there were many similarities between being present for births and for deaths; for each, she recognized the major adjustments families would go through and found it a great honor to be present at both.
Despite her active and long career as a nurse, Lucy always made time for her boys. She was a very active and committed parent showing up to as many events as she could. At the boys’ many sporting events, she was often the loudest fan in the stands. Her enthusiasm and volume hid whatever she lacked in understanding of the game. For many of the boys’ field trips she was a chaperone. The boys often reported how embarrassing Lucy was as she often tried to get all the kids to sing silly songs with her. Despite the embarrassment, the boys would join in and ultimately would share in the joy that she got from being a part of their lives. That joy was ever present in their annual camping trips as Lucy got great satisfaction from taking the boys fishing and cooking hearty meals around the campfire.
As the boys left home and went to college, Lucy forged ahead with her many community involvement opportunities as well as her pursuits of her own hobbies. She kept a large and abundant garden each year, took up knitting, talked Mike into ballroom dance classes, and continued canning and preserving the bounty of her garden. She also began attending services at the local Berean Baptist Church and made many new friends in faith. She was never one to sit down and her faith was a daily part of her activities.
When she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018, Lucy continued to live life as normally as possible. She worked until she no longer could and then in her retirement she and Mike made the most of their time together. They took trips, continued to camp, and enjoyed doing crosswords together during Lucy’s chemotherapy appointments. Lucy even continued to attend church and remained the core of the choir up until the last few months of her life. Her faith was an integral part of her strength and resilience during her battle with cancer. In the last three years of her life, she took as many opportunities as possible to spend time with her family making trips to the home farm and to see Mike’s family in Platteville. Her family also came to see her with a number of them even making a trip in the middle of winter 2020 to carol outside the home in celebration of the Christmas holiday.
Lucy was able to remain at home throughout the end of her life. She was cared for with the utmost love by her husband Mike as well as her sons and their spouses. She also had the pleasure of receiving hospice care from her former co-workers and friends who shared stories of being trained by her at the start of their careers.
Lucy will be remembered by multitudes of people who were touched by her joy and her service. She was a selfless, humble woman who stayed true to her farm family roots to the end with her work ethic and importance of family. She is loved and missed by so many. Lucy is preceded in death by her parents Joseph and Lucille Miller.
Lucy is survived by her husband Michael (Mike); Sons: Jacob Dunn, wife Morgan Dunn, Danny Dunn, wife Caitlin Clark, Matthew Dunn, wife Monica Dunn and soon-to-arrive granddaughter; Siblings: Herman (Ginny) Miller, Jo (Gary) Brantmier, Rafe (Robin) Miller, Gabe (Joanne) Miller, Mike (Tammy) Miller, Nick Miller, John (Dawn) Miller, Mary (Dan) Sammons, Paul (Tina) Miller.
Visitation will be held from 3 PM until 8 PM on Friday, July 30, 2021, at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Galesville, WI. Visitation will also be held at the church on Saturday, July 31, 2021, from 10 AM until the Mass of Christian Burial at 11 AM. Father Antony Joseph will officiate. Lucy will be laid to rest at the Pine Cliff Cemetery in Galesville.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to organizations in Lucy’s honor. Suggested organizations are: Salvation Army, Right to Life, and Winona Health Hospice program.