|(Wednesday - September 22, 2021
- 18:17) - Judith Ann "Judy" (Ghehlhoff) Von Oepen, age 80, of
Shoreview, Minnesota, passed away peacefully on Monday, September
20, at her home in Shoreview.
Judy was born on October 21, 1940, in Florence, to Philemon and Martha Gehlhoff. She grew up in Florence and graduated from Florence High School, class of 1958. She was baptized and confirmed at St. John's Lutheran Church in Florence.
After graduating high school, Judy followed her passion to Evanston, Illinois, where she trained and worked in the nursery at The Cradle (www.thecradle.org), with a mission of providing lifelong support for all who are touched by adoption. While living in the Chicago area, Judy met and fell in love with George Von Oepen. Judy and George married on June 16, 1962, and he remained the love of her life for over 59 years. In the early years of their marriage, Judy was a housewife and full-time mother. She moved her family around the Midwest several times in support of George's career in sales. In 1975, Judy and George moved "home" to Florence, where they spent the next 18 years raising their family and supporting their community.
During her time in Florence, Judy worked for the betterment of her community both in volunteer and paid positions. She volunteered at the Florence public schools assisting with theatre productions and coaching cheerleading teams. She volunteered in the broader community at Caring House of Iron Mountain (www.caringhouseim.com ), providing support to domestic abuse victims. In her last several years in Florence, Judy worked as a Patient Coordinator at the Garrett Eye Center in Iron Mountain, providing patient advocacy support to their clients. In 1993, having completed raising their family and becoming "empty nesters," George and Judy made one last move together, settling in Neenah, Wisconsin. There, Judy was employed as a Volunteer Coordinator for Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services - Battered Women's Shelter in Oshkosh (www.christineann.net) while George completed his professional career in sales, retiring shortly before his death in 2001.
Judy was also active in political and social justice causes throughout her life. As a young adult, she participated in political marches supporting civil rights and women's equal rights causes in the Chicago area. During her years in Florence, it wasn’t uncommon for Judy to host local and state political officials at her home or at town events to lobby for support of local initiatives and funding for area projects. Judy's political guests in Florence included, at various times, Governor Tommy Thompson, Representative Toby Roth and several local officials.
After George's death, Judy soon retired and moved to Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, with her loyal four-legged companion, Wilson. She remained active going to youth sports and academic events and traveling with her daughter and son-in-law. It was important to Judy to create and foster a special, unique relationship with each of her grandchildren, and she did so by traveling back to central and eastern Wisconsin frequently for extended stays to spread her "Gramma Judy/Gaga wisdom" to each of her grandkids.
For many years, Judy was able to winter in her "happy place," Gulf Shores, Alabama, where she would spend endless hours listening to music in "Southern Sands #106" with the ocean rolling in the background. She maintained her social life with the other Wisconsin and Michigan "Snowbirds" with whom, over the years, she became very close. On her trips back north each spring, Judy would "take the long way home" to spend extra time with her Wisconsin-based children and grandchildren. As her grandchildren grew older, their lives got busier and Judy, less able to travel, stayed in touch via voice texting and Facebooking, often spreading her good humor and joyful spirit. Judy was truly a rainbow person who will be greatly missed.
Survivors include her children, David (Kim) Von Oepen of Meridian, Mississippi, Eileen (Paul) Angeli of Little Canada, Minnesota, Phil (Robyn Carmichel) Von Oepen of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Suzanne (Scott) Sroda of Appleton, Wisconsin, and Jennifer (Bernie Ronyak) Von Oepen of Angelica, Wisconsin; her grandchildren, Brittany and Haley Von Oepen, Christina, Allison, and Hannah Angeli, Molly and Mathew Von Oepen and Reid, Kaitlyn and Nick Sroda; her sister, Sandy Witynski of Florence; her sisters-in-law Eileen (Lee) Burden of Elk Grove Village, Illinois and Sharon (Larry) Scharringhausen of Arlington Heights, Illinois; along with many nieces and nephews throughout Wisconsin and the Chicago area.
Judy was preceded in death by her husband, George P. Von Oepen, parents Phil and Martha Gehlhoff, parents-in-law George A. and Pauline Von Oepen, brother Phil Gehlhoff, nieces Margaret "Peggy" Gehlhoff and Rebecca "Becky" Burden, and nephews John Gehlhoff and John Shahinian III.
Visitation will be held Saturday, September 25, from 12:00 noon until 1:30 PM at the Jacobs-Lundholm Funeral Home in Florence. The funeral service will be held on Saturday at 2:00 PM, at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Florence. Pastor Jason Liebenow will officiate. Burial will immediately follow in Woodlawn Cemetery in Florence.
You may leave a condolence or tribute for Judy’s family online at:
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations in Judy’s name to Caring House of Iron Mountain (www.caringhouseim.com ) or Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services in Oshkosh, Wis. (www.christineann.net).
The family wishes to thank John Jaskulske of Oakwood Funeral Home in Maplewood, Minnesota, for his professionalism and care of Judy in preparation for her final trip to Florence.
The family has chosen Jacobs-Lundholm Funeral Home and Crematory of Florence for honoring Judy’s legacy of life and wish to thank Perry Jacobs and his staff for their support and professionalism in this difficult time.