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Barbara Joyce Williams

January 3, 2021 | 14 comments

On January 1, 2021 Barbara Joyce Williams passed away surrounded by her loving daughters after a courageous battle with and many complications from lung cancer.

She was born January 29, 1940 to Emily (Wilson) and Lucius Ellsworth in Elkhorn, WI.  Barb was a beloved daughter, mother, wife, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, aunt, friend and co-worker. She graduated from Elkhorn High School in 1957. She was an incredibly gifted vocalist. She sang in many school competitions, winning most and later was a frequent soloist in the churches with which she was affiliated. She was also an accomplished equestrian, again competing and winning with her horse “Lady”.

She became a mother in September of 1959 with the birth of her daughter, Donna, followed by Penny in 1961 and Paula in 1966. Her daughters were her pride and joy and the main focus of her life. She worked various jobs and often more than one at a time to best support her family.

Life for Barb became more joy filled when one evening at a dance, she met and danced with the man of her dreams, who later became the Dad of her daughters’ dreams. She married DeWayne (Wink) Williams on September 3, 1977. They danced, laughed and loved their way through the years until he passed May 9, 1995.

Barb took great pride in her long career at Gundersen Lutheran in Behavioral Health. She was meticulous in everything she did and that quality served her and all with whom she worked very well until her retirement.

Her meticulous and prideful nature did not stop at her work. Everything she did was done to perfection and accomplished under the highest of standards, from caring for her mom in the last years of her life to tending to her home, yard and flower gardens.

Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were responsible for the twinkle in her eyes and many a smile on her face.

Her sharp wit, keen sense of humor, and most memorable laugh will live on through all of us blessed to be her family.

Barbara is survived by her daughters, Donna (Robert) Niedfeldt of West Salem, Penny Jones Krogh of Black River Falls, and Paula (Harry) Nathanson of Arlington Heights, IL. Grandchildren, Jen (Bryan) Hole, Sarah (Larry) Jackson, Jessica Jerman, Samuel and Ila Nathanson and bonus granddaughter, Elizabeth Niedfeldt. She has six great grandchildren and another great grandson on the way.

Barb is also survived by her stepchildren; Richard Williams and Jean Haakenson, step-grandchildren; Michelle Russell, Travis, Craig and Christopher Williams, Maria DeWitt, Jessica Janzen and Ryan Bjerkos as well as 17 step-great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren.

She is further survived by her siblings; Betty (David) Hedgecock, Robert (Patricia) Ellsworth and Linda (Dale) Dieckbernd and many nieces and nephews.

Barbara was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Wink, her parents, Lucius Ellsworth and Emily Ellsworth Bell and sister-in-law, Laurie Ellsworth.

The family would like to express their sincere gratitude for the compassionate care and attention Mom received from Lisa Gundersen, PA, Dr. David Marinier, Dr. Collin Driscoll and the entire staff in Gundersen Health System’s Cancer Center. A special thank you for the care delivered by Dr. Mary Morris, Palliative Care and for the remarkable care provided at home by Gundersen’s Hospice department.

Due to COVID, private services will be held at The Gathering Place in Onalaska, WI. All invited to attend must wear a mask and observe social distancing guidelines.

In lieu of flowers please direct memorials to Gundersen Medical Foundation, designated to cancer research.




  1. Teri Harlan

    Girls I am so sorry my heart goes out to you all Teri Tollefson Harlan

    • Tim and Diane Groth

      Our deepest sympathies to you Donna and family. Prayers and thoughts to all. ❤❤

  2. Ralph wettstein

    Donna and Bob, we are so saddened by the news of your beautiful mother’s passing.
    Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Ralph and Ruth

  3. Cindy Lane

    My Prayers, heart, sympathy and thoughts go out to all of the family. Cindy Dieckbernd-Lane

  4. Darla Severtson

    Donna I am so sorry to hear about your Moms passing. I have thought about her so often . She is such a beautiful person inside and out. I so enjoyed working with her at Gundersen. Out thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  5. Mary Johnson

    Dear Barb and Family, very sorry to hear of your loss. Praying for all of you during these difficult days.
    With deepest sympathy.
    Mary & Merl Johnson

  6. Rose kendhammer

    So sorry to hear of barbs passing. Loved our gud. Gals luncheons. She was such a lovely person. So strong,despite all her problems. I will miss her

  7. Sally Armstrong

    I am sincerely sorry for your loss. Barb was one of a kind. I was one of those privileged to work with her at Gundersen Behavioral Health. I so much admired her professionalism and attention to detail…and on top of all of that, she was an amazing human being. My thoughts and prayers are with you, her family (that twinkle in her eye).

    My deepest sympathies,
    Sally Armstrong

  8. Sheryle Schmeling

    My deepest sympathy to Paula & family for the loss of your sweet Mom. I hope all your wonderful memories help you thru this sad time.Hugs to Paula.

  9. Amy Moss

    My heartfelt sympathies to you and your family, Donna.
    Keeping you all in my thoughts,

  10. Lynda A Nordstrom

    I’m so very sorry for you family’s loss. Barb was such a wonderful woman. I was so glad to have worked with her. She was so very proud of her family.

  11. Becky Cleveland

    I worked in Behavioral Health with Barb and loved every encounter we had. Barb was a dedicated, loyal and trusted employee.
    I feel fortunate to have known Barb.

  12. Donna Teska

    Donna, I was so sorry to hear the news of your mom’s passing. I only got to know her a short time ago when checking her in for her appointments with Dr. Driscoll and Dr. Morris. In that short time I found out what a sweet, gentle, and caring woman she was. She had so much love for you, and was so appreciative of everything you did for her, and I’m sure she felt that way about the rest of her family. May you find comfort in these days ahead, and rest assured that she lived a good life and she will truly rest in peace.

  13. Mary Thurin

    Your mom was a great lady and mentored me back in my first years in the Behavioral Health Department. She was truly one of a kind and I am blessed to have known her. My deepest sympathy to your family.


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