Fern G. Tomaszewski

Visitation the Night Prior

4:00pm - 6:00pm
Friday, April 5, 2024
O'Connell Family Funeral Home
225 South 3rd Street
River Falls WI, 54022

Visitation Day of Service

10:00am - 11:00am
Saturday, April 6, 2024
Ezekiel Lutheran Church
202 S. 2nd Street
River Falls WI, 54022

Memorial Service

11:00am - 11:45am
Saturday, April 6, 2024
Ezekiel Lutheran Church
202 S. 2nd Street
River Falls WI, 54022

Fern Gladys Tomaszewski left her earthly home for eternal rest on Saturday, February 24, 2024 at the age of 94.  She was surrounded by family at home and passed peacefully after spending most of February in the hospital, bravely struggling with multiple health issues.  Her final wish was granted – to be at home and leave this place quickly because she was ready and at peace.  Fern was born on April 18, 1929 to Everette Strahl and Gladys (Riddiough) Strahl in Ridgefield, Illinois.  She spent her early years in Illinois before the family moved to La Crosse, WI.  She graduated from La Crosse Central High School in 1947.  She married Bernard Brye on June 11, 1948.  The family moved from La Crosse to Holmen, WI in 1960.  Tragically, Bernie was killed in a truck accident on February 11, 1965 and Fern became a widow with four children at the age of 36.  She was at the center of the stable and secure home that she and Bernie provided and continued to provide after his death.  She was the mainstay in getting the family through that sad time.

There were many great family camping vacations: Perrot State Park; trips to Michigan; a trip to Yellowstone National Park in a 1961 Volkswagen, which not only carried the entire family of six but also all the camping gear; and the summer after Bernie’s death, she took the four children on a trip around Lake Superior.

Seeking knowledge and the possibility of a career beyond her number one job as wife and mother, she attended UW–La Crosse from 1964 to 1966.  On July 27, 1968, Fern married Roger J. Ryan and the family moved to River Falls, WI.  Fern acquired her love of travel and adventure as Roger’s employment provided for numerous opportunities to take cruises and travel far beyond Wisconsin.  Roger left this world on May 22, 1975 and Fern was once again a widow.  On August 13, 1977, she married George Tomaszewski.  Together they ran a small business in River Falls – a bath boutique and smoke shop.  They wintered in Arkansas but then discovered that San Diego had much better weather and chose that as their happy place.  George passed away on May 18, 2001.  Having trained three husbands, she announced she was done with that job!

Fern’s number one job was always being the best wife and mother, but over the years she tried her hand at a few other jobs.  She worked at the lefse factory in Holmen, for Welcome Wagon, Dick’s IGA, Walmart and various clerical jobs, in addition to being a small business owner.  Fern was always an actively engaged citizen, volunteering at the River Falls Hospital, at her church, and working the polls during elections.  Her most recent position was with O’Connell Funeral Homes, serving as a funeral assistant, meeting and greeting, making coffee, cleaning up and even driving the hearse on several occasions.  She worked there through the end of January when her hospital stays got in the way.  She took on this job at the young age of 84 and when her 90th birthday was celebrated, it was pointed out that her kids all had retired and she had a job.  She loved the job, but it wasn’t really a job to her but a  calling – a service she could provide with her generosity, sincerity and empathy.  She knew well the grief of losing a loved one as she experienced losing three husbands.  Her children thought she should take it easy and quit but she said she was saving for her retirement!

Fern also became a world traveler and was proud of the fact that she had traveled to Australia, Germany, the Baltic, South Korea, several Caribbean Islands and Alaska.  She was the ultimate Go-Go Girl.  If she was invited, she would go.

Everyday was Bridge Day.  She played Bridge several times a week and her competitive edge showed.  She loved to be on the winning team.  She was an avid golfer and a member of the River Falls Country Club.  She even had her name published in Golf Digest one year as most improved golfer.  Fern also kept busy with knitting, crocheting and sewing projects.

Fern always enjoyed being a part of family events, faithfully attending the many sports, concerts, theatrical and dance performances that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were involved in over the years.  She could always be counted on to provide meatballs, pies, cookies and rosettes for family holiday celebrations.  She loved to make banana nut bread to give to family and friends.

Fern was preceded in death by her three husbands, Bernie, Roger, and George.  She is survived by her four children: Brent (Lucy Nitz), Randi (Gary) Hoffman, Lewis (Diane Delisi), and Bill (Melanie); four grandchildren: Kari (Lester) Halstead, Erik (Mikayla) Hoffman, Peder (Nahye Kim) Hoffman, and Kirsten (Fabrice) Kamaha; eight great-grandchildren: Bennett, Grant, and Calvin Halstead, Ezra and Sage Hoffman, Leif Hoffman, and Abiel and Yael Kamaha; sister Nancy Guenther and brother Everette (Jan) Strahl; her “adopted” son and great-nephew David Bernatz; and numerous nieces, nephews and relatives related through her three marriages.  She leaves behind many friends in the River Falls area, and her friend, Jon Verburg, who was like a son to her.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Ezekiel Lutheran Church and the River Falls Community Food Pantry.

A memorial service for Fern Tomaszewski will be 11:00am, Saturday, April 6, 2024 at Ezekiel Lutheran Church in River Falls. Visitation will be on Friday, April 5, 2024, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at the O’Connell Family Funeral Home in River Falls as well as one hour prior to the service Saturday morning at Ezekiel. Family will have a private interment.

Cremation and memorial services have been entrusted to the O’Connell Family Funeral Home of River Falls, www.oconnellfuneralhomes.com, 715-425-5644.


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4 Responses

  1. Dear Fern was a classy lady of the highest integrity. She was a treasure to all who met her. May she rest in peace.. Love you dear Fern. I am saddened to read of her passing.

  2. In a world that is not always friendly, Fern was a ray of sunshine, welcome and kindness. She would always step up to make us feel like the most important person in the room. A good listener and friend as she greeted folks in her role in the hospital auxiliary and at all funerals. As a great mother-in-law to my brother, she mentored us and many others through happy and sad times. She was a distinguished family head. Fern found joy in giving and sharing. I will miss her presence and always remember her fondly.

  3. Family of Fern, I’m so very sorry hearing of Fern’s death. Last time I saw her, she was with a son, in the radiology waiting room at the hospital. She had not been diagnosed yet. I’ve thought of her often since then. I can’t think of many who didn’t know Fern. Never was there anything but kind, loving, grateful words spoken of her. She was a gem. She will be missed. God bless your broken hearts.💚

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