Cover photo for Janice Sterkel's Obituary
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Janice Sterkel

December 31, 1929 — January 21, 2024

Cottage Grove

Janice Sterkel

After a long struggle with Alzheimer’s, Janice (Rawson) Sterkel, age 94, passed away peacefully surrounded by singing angels and those who loved her on Sunday, January 21, 2024 at Kindred Hearts in Cottage Grove. Janice was born in Sheboygan, WI on New Years Eve, December 31, 1929 to Marjorie (Bayens) and Melvin Ambrose Rawson. She graduated from Central High School in Sheboygan, WI in 1948. After high school she worked as a waitress at Jumes Restaurant, a popular malt shop hangout in Sheboygan. On weekends Janice and her friends would go to Sheboygan’s “Pladium” to hear and dance to live big band music. It is there she met Karl Sterkel, a decorated WW II veteran. That night Karl told his buddy that Janice was the girl he was going to marry.

Some months later, Janice was on a train to Ft Riley, Kansas to marry Karl, and a year later they became parents to their daughter, Gail. Sadly, when Gail was six weeks old, Karl was sent to fight in Korea and Janice took the train back to Sheboygan with her newborn to live with her parents. After Karl’s tour of duty had ended, the family settled in Sheboygan where son Brian was born. 

Janice is survived by her daughter Gail, son Brian (Claudette), grandson William Pasteris (S. “Ray”), grandson Eric Sterkel (Michelle), and great grandchildren Fiona and Logan.

Janice was preceded in death by her husband Karl, granddaughter and namesake Janice Pasteris, sisters Shirley (Wilson) and Phyllis (Welsch), and brother Walton Rawson.

Janice enjoyed watching her grandchildren grow up as well as being a devoted member of the Moravian Church in Lake Mills, WI and Madison. She was most proud of her term as President of the Moravian Women and singing in the church choir. Janice loved going to the theater to see plays and musicals and enjoyed going out to see movies. She loved mysteries, comedies, and British television shows.

Janice had a variety of interesting jobs throughout her life including car hop, childcare giver, pharmacy tech, grocery store checker, OTR truck driver, and bookkeeper for an independent business. 

Janice “Jan” Sterkel was a kind, sweet person who was generous, patient, supportive, helpful, and forgiving. She loved to laugh and enjoyed making others laugh. She was a gentle, sweet soul loved by many and will be greatly missed in our world.

A few of Jan’s personal favorites:

           The hymn “How Great Thou Art”

                                   All babies

                                   Her beloved pets, canary Tony Bennett and cat, Tornado

                                    Fresh Deli sandwiches                       

                                    Ice cream

Matt Damon movies

                                    Sid Ceasar’s “Your Show of Shows”, 

Laurel and Hardy movies 

                                    Big Band music

                                    People with a sense of humor

                                    Watching her grandchildren play softball and soccer

                                    James Baldwin books

A very special thank you to:

The entire staff at Kindred Hearts in Cottage Grove (Crystal and Monae) for their enduring care.

The Agrace team for their sincere concern and abiding diligence. (Melissa, Grace, Brenda). 


A memorial gathering will be held in Madison in the near future to celebrate the life of Janice Sterkel (date yet to be determined). Please contact Gail Sterkel for details:

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association at:

                                       “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”   Matthew 5:5    

To order memorial trees in memory of Janice Sterkel, please visit our tree store.


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