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Jeanne Audrey West

September 9, 2022 | 1 comment

Jeanne Audrey West passed away on Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at Gundersen Hospital in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, after a lengthy illness.  Born Jeanne Audrey Biddick on November 1, 1946 in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, she was the second child of John Harlan Biddick and Grace Audrey (Watson) Biddick.  Jeanne was dearly loved. Her death was unexpected. She still had many plans for her future.


Relationships were profoundly important to her and she had a love of learning and community service.  A graduate of Madison West, Jeanne received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from UW-LaCrosse and earned her MSSW from UW-Madison.  Jeanne was proud to have worked with Cuban, Hmong, and Cambodian refugees in the 80’s, as a nursing home social worker, or when she was working as a Probation and Parole Agent for the State of Wisconsin.  Jeanne spoke Spanish and a little bit of Hmong, and she was a union activist who never missed an opportunity to support of her favorite Democratic politicians.


Jeanne was a gifted writer, singer, and songwriter. She was the one the office could count on to come up with raps or poetry for celebrations, her unique gift to the celebrant. In the 80’s she was an occasional guest commentator on WIZM radio in LaCrosse. The songs she wrote and performed were about political and social issues. She loved community and spent her life believing every individual has something to contribute, even herself after her debilitating stroke the winter of 2019.  She became a fierce self-advocate while still in rehab and after moving to Jackson County, she found much independence living on her own through being able to coordinate transportation to her numerous appointments which she did on her own with Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers. Despite her disability, a week before she was hospitalized, Jeanne was searching for ways she could help her Black River Falls community through the very important work of Interfaith. 


Her grandchildren were everything to Jeanne.  Known by “Neenee” to her grandsons and “Mimi” to her granddaughters, Joseph and Andrew could have been speaking for all her grandchildren when they stated “Neenee was a terrific grandma. From her excessive wet kisses on the cheek to her hundreds of disposable cameras, she made the most of every second. She was as selfless as could be and would do anything for her grandkids. When we would come and visit in LaCrosse, she would have been preparing all week and was always smiling at the door ready to greet us when we got there. She would spoil us in every way that she could: running around to make sure we had anything and everything when we visited, coming to support us at everything from sports to school events, giving us all the time and support we could ever ask for.  Her energy and support will be greatly missed but we know that she will still be supporting us in everything we do.”  Her grandson Andrew added, “Jeanne loved and cared about all of her grandchildren with a passion that never faded, regardless of her health. When she lived in LaCrosse, staying at her house always meant unique and thoughtful presents, laughter, and cherished stories.  She always made everyone in her family feel loved and especially after losing her daughter Liz, she comforted and cared for her grandchildren despite her own pain.”  Jeanne’s granddaughters both recall being taken aside numerous times to be told by Mimi, “you’re my favorite granddaughter.”  This was all aligned with Jeanne’s personality; she didn’t just love, she loved deeply and the feeling Jeanne gave to the people she loved was that they were special, and therefore, specially loved by her. 


Survivors include her daughter Catherine (Dr. Steve) Dal Cerro, her grandchildren Andrew Ross (Dr. Lexi) Fugate, Joseph William Fugate, Zoe Elizabeth Dal Cerro, and Theta Jane Dal Cerro; her sisters Mary Grace (Jim) Tredinnick, Barbara (Tom) Henning, Elizabeth (Jack) Lorch; her uncle Ed Biddick; niece Lynnette Lorch and nephew Matthew Lorch; cousins Reese Riddiough, Tommy Biddick, Robert Biddick, Lynn Biddick, Debbie Prigge, and all their children.  Jeanne is also survived by her life partner Bo Schmitz’s children and grandchildren Catherine Schmitz and daughter Azlyn; Michelle Schmitz; Nicole Wagoner and children Sebastian and Dexter; Helen Schmitz Frahm and children Tim, Kayla, Adeline, Hunter, Mackenna, and Cole; and Bo’s son, Robert John Schmitz.


Jeanne was preceded in death by her daughter, Elizabeth Jane West Fugate, parents, John and Grace Biddick, and her loving life partner, Robert “Bo” Schmitz, and “Kitty,” her complicated special needs rescue chihuahua.


A Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday September 17, 2022, at St. Teresa of Kolkata Catholic Church in West Salem, 210 W. Hamlin St., West Salem.  Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill will officiate.  A visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until the time of mass Saturday.  In lieu of flowers, the family would request donations to the Jackson County Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers.  The family would like to send a special thanks to Dr. Caressa Eckley, Dr. Kurt Oettel, Physician Assistant Jacob R. Larkin, and all the indefatigable nurses and certified nursing assistants on the 6th floor for their loving care.


1 Comment

  1. Kryzstyna Peyton- Noland

    Although I merely know Catherine and Azlyn; Jeanne sounds like an incredible individual. I am sorry that I was never able to meet her(due to distance). Her full life is enviable, as well as her positive attitude, and a formidable life of service and philanthropy. The numerous kids, grandkids, and family and friendships make for a life that’s well lived and full.
    My condolences to those who loved her, as well as prayers. I am deeply sorry for the gravity of your families loss.


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