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Lillia Ava Rae Walsh

August 17, 2019 | 36 comments

C.S. Lewis wrote about death in A Grief Observed. He said, “Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.” In The Problem of Pain Lewis tells us that pain is God’s “megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” These words ring true and, God, we are listening. Give us ears to hear.

Lillia Ava Rae Walsh was a daughter, granddaughter, sister, niece, godmother and friend. She was radiant, impossibly sweet, considerate and loving. She was artistic, sarcastic, intelligent and she was a child of God. She graduated from West Salem High School and was attending Western Technical College. In her short life she worked at Jolivette Family Farms, Linda’s Bakery, Le Chateau, La Crosse Distilling and Western Technical College. She was born on August 21st, 1999 and she died peacefully on Friday, August 16th, 2019. She was 19 years old.

While she was with us, she cared an uncommon amount. She loved her family and friends with ferocity but still found unconditional support and love for those suffering, the souls on the fringe of society and the persecuted. She loved animals and marveled at creation. Lillia was a talented artist whose spirit lives on in her work. She championed women and was unyieldingly inspired by females who stood up and carried a cross for their cause. She had a passion for doing the right thing (even when unpopular), living thoughtfully, and being genuine and good. She embodied goodness. She embodied love. She was vexed by the wrongs in this world; her heart broke from racism, persecution of immigrants, refugees and the fringe groups of society, environmental deterioration and the ills that make humans inhumane.

She was a baptized and confirmed child of God and saw Him and knew Him through church, in the fields, on the breeze and among the trees, wildflowers and trails of Grandad Bluff. She had a passion for the natural beauty of this world, and she spent her time being in it and taking care of it.

Lillia died from chronic, invasive and ultimately, terminal depression. For as much joy as she brought, she carried an insurmountable amount of darkness. She soaked up pain like a sponge and a chemical imbalance made it impossible for her to shed this burden. She passed into a pain-free eternity while writing about her sorrow—and the sadness she knew she would cause her loved ones. She wanted us to forgive her for the grieving she is causing, while begging us to ALL fight for the causes she held dear. While this might be difficult to comprehend, her agony and pain aren’t for us to understand or judge. Our calling is to faith, hope and love.

She knew the depths of despair and the cruel reality of living in the unrelenting grip of depression. She also knew the depths of her family’s love. She knew grace and now she knows peace. In the book of Isaiah 42:3 we read, “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.” Ultimately, the Lord knows those who are His and does not let mental illness rob His children of saving faith. God is bigger than our woes, He is bigger than our suffering—death will not have the final word. Romans 8:39 says, “Neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God is love. We will hold onto that with our whole hearts as the sun brings light to each new day.

Lillia leaves behind a wealth of loving friends and family, including her parents, Adriane (Forseth) and Ben Rice; Pat and Kate (Harkness) Walsh. Her brother, Max Walsh. Her great grandpa, Ralph Scheck; her grandmothers, Sandy Walsh, Mary Harkness and Judith Rice, grandfather, Randy Rice and her grandparents, Hal and Connie (Scheck) Forseth. Her sisters, Haeli (Brandon) Pedretti, Alyssa (fiancé Ean Hesselberg) Hansen, April (fiancé Sean O’Hern) Hansen. Her nieces: Haedyn, Kennedy and Lyla; and her nephew and beloved godson Blake. Her uncles Larry (Sandy) Walsh, Dan Walsh and aunt Jean Marie Smith. Uncle Eric (Allison) Forseth and aunt Emma (Benjamen) Goldbeck. Godparents Steven (Sue) Scheck and Anne (Randy) Scheck and her honorary family, Doug, Rose, Cole and Mallorie Trautsch. She was preceded in death by her grandfather Bernard Walsh Jr. and her great grandmother, Rae Scheck, with whom she shared a remarkable bond.

In her poem, The Summer Day, Mary Oliver writes: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

On behalf of Lillia, we encourage you all to live it, love it, don’t litter, use metal straws, be curious, be kind. Embrace what is right and care enough to alter things that are wrong in this world. Be a good steward, a good friend, a good citizen. Destigmatize mental illness and suicide—talk about it with an open mind and loving heart. Lillia asked that we all kiss as many dogs as we can for her—Felix and Rocco will miss that about her. And finally, commit yourself to decency—to creation and to each other—every chance you get.

There will be a time of remembrance at The Gathering Place (133 Mason St, Onalaska) on Friday, August 23rd from 4-8 PM with prayer and spoken tributes from all who wish to do so beginning at 7:30. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred. A portion of her memorials will be used to support an environmental cause close to Lillia’s heart.

To view Lillia’s memorial video, please use the following link. https://www.tributeslides.com/tributes/show/98WG8MZWC3Q6S458?e=1



  1. Robert M Fortney

    Wish to express my sincere sympathy to family and friends.

    • Lila & Tom Peterson

      The world is a better place because of Lillia. I wish I had known her. Her life was short but she impacted the world around her. We send our love to the entire family.

    • Diana [Walsh] Cyert

      All my love and blessings and prayers are with you all.
      I don’t know all her struggles, but I have a grandchild that goes thru so many things that were written about her. It truly breaks our hearts that we just can’t help. Also to know we didn’t create this in them. We do need to give them to our Lord to care for here and after

      • Emily Blake

        I’m so terribly sorry for your loss. I did not know Lillia, but I am so very grateful to you all for being so brave in sharing her story.

        Depression and other mental illnesses are just as real and devastating as any physical illness, but so much harder to see. Thank you for helping the world feel a little more empathy, and a little more compassion for those who suffer those unseen illnesses. It was a lovely tribute to your Lillia.

        I wish your family much love, healing, and strength in this time.

        • Kellyann

          Thinking of you all. I did not know this beautiful woman, but I’m glad you shared her story. Mental illness is real and I know it is something no one wants to go through. I have a few family members who struggled with depression too. I will keep you all in my prayers.

        • Jennifer c

          Her obituary changed me. I did not know her- but I know suffering- God please bless her beautiful family left behind- and bless her beautiful soul.

    • P. Ardovino

      RIP sweet child who I did not know but understand. Thank you for this helpful and loving obituary.

    • Mary Hurley

      I didn’t know Lillia or her family. I wish I could have known her. What a beautiful expression of love for this young woman. She sounds like she was full of compassion, empathy, love and heartache. May she rest in peace. And may her message of peace be spread. My heart aches for her family and friends.

  2. Amy Tatarek

    Adriane and family, you are all beautiful, lovely and kind. I have enjoyed being a part of your lives and thou ours paths have not crossed daily anymore, I am so blessed to have known all of you and appreciate all your family sharing both your joys and sorrows. I am holding the one time I met Lillia in my heart. Such a special evening in mpls. I will think of Lillia often. And pray for peace for all of you

    • Colleen

      This is the most honest and genuine obituary I’ve ever read. Thank you for being so candid. I lost a close friend to suicide several years ago, and I am grateful that he has found peace. I carry on by openly talking about my own issues with depression and anxiety. We can all help by taking the stigma out of something that so many of us are silently dealing with.

  3. Jennifer and Chris Gloede

    Thoughts and prayers from the Chris Gloede family. May you find some sort of peace with the beautiful memories you share with Lillia.❤

    • Craig Friell

      I wish I had known her; her life has left the world a better place. I can tell she was loved by many. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  4. Jelaine Modawell

    Rest peacefully beautiful angel. Happy Birthday in Heaven this Wednesday. We will miss you dearly. Thank you for all your contributions to our environment. Thanks for being a good friend to many.

  5. Sandy Hammond

    My heart goes out to the family and friends. Two things we know for sure is that Lillia has gone to heaven and she isn’t in pain anymore. Unfortunately, she has left family behind to mourn her passing. We are so blessed to know that God loves us and sent his son to redeem us.

  6. Mary Pierce Vinson - Paul Pierce's sister

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    “Death leaves a heartache, no one can heal. L
    Love leaves a memory, not one can steal.”

    Connie and Hal – thoughts and prayers are for you both and Lillia’s entire family.

    • Vicky Kunz

      Our hearts go out to Lillia’s family, and you are all in our prayers. Know that Lillia is safe with Jesus and you will see her again. May God bless you and give you comfort and peace as only He can.
      Dan and Vicky Kunz

      • Shelly Helland

        I am so deeply sorry to hear of Lillia’s passing. She was and will forever be a beautiful soul.

        • F. Jakobi

          So sorry for your loss. She is at peace and struggling no more. Prayers to the family.

  7. L Fielding

    Thank you for sharing this lovely tribute with everyone that knew her as well as those of us she didn’t know her. Condolences to the family. Depression is a cruel thing!

  8. Tricia Gibbons

    My deepest sympathy and most heartfelt prayers go out to all of you and the rest of the family and friends.

  9. Maynard Swenson

    Ben and Adriane-
    Thinking of you at this time of great loss. Hoping the many good memories will help you through this sad time.
    Maynard and Rita Swenson

    • Emily Jeffers

      You have my deepest condolences. I am so sorry for your loss.

  10. Tallahassee Florida

    To my Wisconsin Family. I know how difficult this is for everyone and my heart breaks for all. I wish I could be there to help in some way.

    The obituary written was the most beautiful I have ever read.

    You are all in my prayers every day, God bless you all.

    Rest in Peace beautiful Lillia.

  11. Patricia Hall

    My prayers are with you all. 🙏💙

  12. JoAnn Palmer

    My sincere condolences
    I never knew Lillia but wish I would’ve been blessed to have known her.
    Your tribute written for her is as beautiful as she was!
    I will kiss my dogs extra just for her. May you find peace and comfort knowing that she is no longer suffering.

    • Karen Peterson

      I did not know this precious young lady. I do know from what I read is that many were blessed to know her. Prayers and peace to all loved ones.

  13. Nancee B

    I am so sorry for your loss. Reading Lillia’s story reminds me of the song by Sarah McLachlan. She’s in the arms of the Angels, May she find her comfort there. God will hold her close until you meet again.
    God Bless

  14. Lisa Schroeder

    I didn’t know her, but it sounds like she was an incredibly positive force in this world. I’m sure she will not be forgotten and her legacy will live on in those who loved and had the blessing of knowing her. A beautiful obituary for a beautiful woman.

  15. Sabrina and Zachariah Sonsalla

    My deepest and sincere sympathy to everyone.
    May God Comfort everyone.


    Sabrina Sonsalla
    Zachariah g. Sonsalla

  16. Stacy Roshto

    This obituary is beautifully written and mirrors Lillia’s gentle, loving spirit perfectly. I have only know her for a few months, but she quickly became one of my “favorite people.” I am heartbroken by her short time with us, but know that she is now with God and living without pain. Sending my prayers for comfort and peace.

  17. Anonymous

    My deepest sympathy in the loss of Lillia. What a beautiful woman inside and out. Hugs and prayers that you can somehow heal from her untimely death. Only our Heavenly Father can heal her kind of pain. One thing we know for sure – Lillia has no more suffering. The heavens have a bright new star. Lillia will certainly be missed by all who knew and loved her.

  18. Carol and Stan Beranek

    We offer our sincere sympathy to everyone affected by the loss of precious Lillia. Her need to return to her CREATOR was overwhelming. We grieve with you for the loss of her wonderful and beautiful presence in our lives, but are grateful she is freed of her Earthly pain. Hopefully our sorrow will be replaced by peace with the knowledge Lillia has found her peace in Glory. Love to Patrick, Kate, Max and all your extended families.

  19. Judy Rice

    Happy Birthday Lillie-Pad, we love you. Your spirit lives peacefully within every soul you touch. You will soar above the clouds with me each and every flight. And, we will feed waffels to the fishy together.

  20. daniel a berger

    Pat & Kate, This has been so close to me in the past few years and I have a hard time dealing with it as its something I don’t entirely know how to deal with it its been in the family to much and all can do is pray for better understanding and more awareness to all around me. I pray for you for the pain in your hearts that never leaves and hope for some relief with time…I love you my friends and I know God will be watching over you and hold you close to him and bring you some comfort as he guides her into his kingdom. Your friend Dan….

  21. Julie Riplinger

    I lost my son Jackson, 5 years ago to this disease. I know your pain. My heart breaks for you.
    I hope everyday that people a lot smarter than me can find a cure.
    Stay strong.

  22. Lori Hetue

    Prayers in this tragic loss. Our hearts go out to you. I remember her as a little girl full if life and fun dow at the marina, always looking out for her brother. Take care

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