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GOHDES, Fay M., age 88

Died: Saturday, March 9th, 2019

Memorial Service: 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19, 2019 at Grace Edgewood Assisted Living in Altoona with Reverend Debra Boynton officiating

Interment: will be held this spring in Athens, WI.

In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer memorials be given to your local animal shelter in memory of Fay Gohdes.


Fay Marie Gohdes, age 88, of Eau Claire, passed away on March 9, 2019 at Grace Edgewood Assisted Living in Altoona. Fay was born on February 3, 1931.

Fay's father, the late John (Jack) C. Dugas, arrived from Canada, speaking only French, in the early 1900's. He entered the USA via Sault Ste. Marie, MI from his home on the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec. Frenchy (Jack) was an Ironworker, a great dancer with a sense of humor and strong work ethic.

Fay's mother, the late Goldie Fischbach (the oldest of six sisters), was a self-confident and energetic farmers daughter from Marathon County, WI. She held an enthusiastic outlook to life and was self-reliant at a young age; working on the farm, sewing for the family, cooking in logging camps, and traveling to Milwaukee by bus in the roaring 20's. Goldie was a multi-faceted seamstress, cook, and boarding house manager. Her youngest sister, Viola, joined her in Milwaukee working at the Sunrise Cafe. They danced the Charleston to big band music and socialized in Milwaukee's many beer gardens.

John and Goldie met in Milwaukee, married and settled in as Prohibition and the Great Depression unfolded. Two children from John's prior marriage, Beulah and Doris Dugas, also joined them.

The new family traveled the country during the depression years following John's employment; Springfield, IL, East St. Louis, and the Fort Peck Dam in Montana, part of the New Deal project. The girls attended many different schools and Fay developed a deep love and devotion for her pets. She brought them with her as they traveled the country from job to job in the 1930's.

Eventually the family returned to Marathon County to the farm settled by her grandfather, Carl John Fischbach, in Athens, WI. John and Goldie purchased the farm and Fay was happily surrounded by extended family; her mother's family nieces and nephews. Fay graduated from Athens High School in 1949.

Fay and William "Bill" F. Delaney were introduced in 1950 during a spring visit to Fay's married sisters, Doris Neidetcher and Beulah Ryba, both living in Lasalle/Peru, IL. Bill, recently returned from Army combat service in World War II, grew up in Peru and knew both Beulah's husband, Lou Ryba, and Leo Neidetcher, the husband of Fay's sister Doris. Fay returned to Wisconsin and continued their relationship over a period of months by mail. This time was filled with hundreds of love letters. On September 3, 1950, Fay married Bill in Hamburg, WI.

During the early marriage, Fay and Bill lived on the family's 40 acre farm. Bill getting GI Bill of Rights training in agriculture and Fay became the homemaker and anchor for the family. Farm life was changing and Fay's father, John Dugas, signed Bill's Union book and Bill became an Ironworker apprentice. The growing family spent years on construction project locations in Virginia, Biwabic, and White Lakes in the Mesabi Iron Ranges of Minnesota, Ashland and Superior in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Jack worked as a riveter on the construction of the Mackinac bridge connecting Michigan's upper and lower Peninsulas, beginning in 1954.  

When the children began to reach school age, Fay and Bill returned to Athens and eventually bought the family farm from Fay's mom. Fay lost an infant daughter, ReAnn Delaney (born Aug 5, 1955; died Aug 20, 1955), shortly after returning to Athens in 1955. The family grew up on the small farm, milking dairy cows and raising Herefords. Fay loved enjoying a good cup of coffee between chores and whenever possible. Bill continued to work as an Ironworker closer to home, throughout central Wisconsin. Bill died Jan 2, 1982.

After Bill's death, Fay took a job as the cook for the Lutheran School in Athens and later with Edgar High School. She met Melvin Gohdes, a retired Lutheran Minister, while working at the Lutheran school and they married in 1988. Mel built Fay a new house on a section of the family farm and they spent some of Fay's best year's together, enjoying country life and their faith. Mel had a large garden and sold produce at the Wausau farmers market. Fay baked pies, accompanying Mel to Wausau and selling delicious fruit pies to waiting lines of customers. Mel continued to preach as a visiting Pastor and they traveled around Wisconsin together.

Fay and Mel relocated to Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 2007. Mel died at The Syverson Lutheran Home in 2011.  Fay spent many happy years living with her daughter Mary Beth's family, helping to raise three grandsons.  Fay then moved into Grace Edgewood Assisted Living in 2016.

Fay is survived by five or her six children, John Delaney of Poynette, WI, William (Bill) Delaney of Manchester, IA, Patricia (Trish) Woller of Athens, WI, Ann Duerr of Merrill, WI, and Mary Beth Hamman of Eau Claire; fourteen grandchildren; and fifteen great-grandchildren.

The family would like to thank the staff and residents of Grace Edgewood Assisted Living in Altoona for the loving care and activity filled atmosphere that Fay so enjoyed with her friends and acquaintances. Fay loved a good laugh and enjoyed singing. The family would also like to acknowledge her doctor, Dr. Reginald Cosiquien, M.D., along with all the the doctors and nurses at Mayo Clinic Health System Eau Claire who provided many years of professional medical care as well as emotional support to Fay and her family. Finally, Reverend Debra Boynton (Pastor Deb) who visited with mom over the many years, providing spiritual comfort and support.

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