Deanna Gardner

Onalaska / Westby / Soldiers Grove

Deanna K. (Braaten) Gardner, age 75, formerly of the Soldiers Grove area, died Saturday May 13, 2017.

Sample ImageDeanna K. (Braaten) Gardner, age 75, passed away at home surrounded by her loving family on May 13, 2017.

Deanna was born on April 16, 1942 in Viroqua, Wisconsin, the youngest of nine children, to Ole and Nora (Jackson) Braaten. At the very young age of five she became interested in music, singing and playing a guitar at the local talent shows at the Viroqua Temple Theatre, with her name in lights on the marquis. She loved playing her piano and was captivated by all music in school as well as at church. She graduated from Readstown High School in 1960, 3rd in her class, where she was recipient of the DAR Award, and a State Music participant receiving a ‘First’ on her trumpet solo. As her principal once said, “She was a superlative music student but most of all a darn nice person.”


After graduating, Deanna worked at the State Bank of Viroqua for five years before marrying her husband of 51 years. While in Viroqua, she played the organ for her church, Franklin Lutheran Church, in Folsom, Wisconsin, where she was baptized and confirmed. She married Merrill Gardner on June 12, 1965 at his church, Kickapoo United Lutheran Church, just a short distance from hers. They moved to La Crosse where Merrill worked for Trane Co. and Deanna worked for First Federal Savings Bank for 34 years before retiring in 1999. She served as a supervisor of many savings counselors, a branch manager of the Village Office, and a designated consumer loan lender, before retiring.

She and Merrill gave life to two loving sons, Aaron Gene and Nathan Jon. As a family, they joined St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on West Avenue in La Crosse in 1967.  


Deanna served the church in several capacities. She was a Sunday school teacher where she loved playing the piano for the children. She was a member of the church council and served as chairman of the Lydia Circle and assisted in communion chancel care for 15 years. She always had a strong Christian faith from a young age, which in turn served her carrying her through many difficulties of her illness.


Deanna loved her home and had much joy in decorating and changing out the colors for the different holidays and seasons both indoors and outdoors over the spring and summer. She forever loved having her friends and family coming to visit. Deanna had three work-time friends that supported her with cards, e-mails, phone calls, flowers and visits throughout her illness: Jan, Pat and Phyllis. There were other special friends: Karen and Leon Shepard, Jan Ostreng, Judy Onsrud, Janice Eagen, all of her Lydia Circle friends not to mention her family or Merrill’s family and St. Paul members that did the same for her. She was always so appreciative of their support and kindness which helped her through the hard times. She enjoyed having family and friends drop in anytime.


The greatest joy of her life was her family and having two loving sons and daughters-in-law and the grandchildren she could never see often enough. She had so looked forward to seeing them grow up, finish high school and guide them anyway she could. She also enjoyed having family and friends drop in, anytime to visit or just to watch all Wisconsin sports on TV.


Deanna is survived by: her loving husband Merrill; her two sons: Aaron (Lori Ann) of Soldiers Grove, WI, and Nathan (Lori Kay) and their two children: Nora and Alan, of St. Louis Park, MN. She is further survived by: her sisters: Phyllis Jacobson of Viroqua and Beverly Fredrick of Westby; and so many beloved nieces and nephews; her three sisters-in-law: Myrtle Braaten, Nellie Braaten, and Gwen Gardner; her husband’s sister, Judy Nicholson; and brother, Dean Gardner.


She was preceded in death by: her parents ,Ole and Nora; her parents-in-law, Ernest and Ruth Gardner; her brothers: Kermit, Obed, Norman and Myron Braaten; her sisters: Naomi McDaniel and Rebecca Erickson; her nieces: Debra Jacobson and Sharon Grim; nephews: Ronald Braaten and David Nicholson; a nephew-in-law, Larry Everson; a sister-in-law, Evelyn Braaten; and brothers-in-law: Wesley Erickson, Robert Fredrick, Selmer Jacobson, Lynn Gardner, and Bill Nicholson.


Blessed be our memories of Deanna.


Funeral services for Deanna will be held on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 11 AM, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on West Avenue in La Crosse. Pastor Ted Dewald will officiate followed by a luncheon in the church hall. Burial will follow the service with Pastor Chuck Miller presiding at the Kickapoo United Lutheran Church Cemetery on Co. Road J, rural Soldiers Grove, at 3:00 P.M. Friends may call from 4-6 pm on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at the Vosseteig Funeral Home in Westby. Friends may also call on Thursday at the church from 10 AM until the time of service at 11:00.


In lieu of flowers or plants, memorials may be directed to the American Cancer Society, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in La Crosse or the charity of the donor’s choice in Deanna’s name.


On-line condolences may be offered at


The Vosseteig Funeral Homes of Viroqua and Westby are serving the family.

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