Jean “Granny” A. Van Oteghem passed away on February 7, 2019, at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital with family by her side. She was born on February 19, 1937, to Wesley and Ida (Robertson) Giles.
She grew up on the East Hill in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and graduated from Eau Claire High School in 1955.
She married Thomas E. Brown in 1955. To that union her two daughters, Cheryl and Sandra, were born. They later divorced.
She married Victor Fischer in 1967 and they were married for over 30 years. They always lived on the Chippewa River, first in Hallie, and later in Holcombe after moving there in 1980. They had great friends and they enjoyed hunting, fishing, travelling and snowmobiling together. Jean cared for Victor for many years throughout his long-term illness. After Vic’s passing, her son-in-law nicknamed her “Granny.” She loved and embraced it, and recently said she was not sure anyone knew her real name anymore!
In 1998 Granny got reacquainted with an old friend, Bill Van Oteghem, at the urging of Bill’s good friend Ron Salter. Bill and Jean hit it off right away and that was the beginning of their love story. They married in 1998. Family members often called Bill “Number Three” just to get a rile out of her! Bill treated Granny like no man had ever treated her before; he was the love of her life. They loved to laugh and had lots of fun together. They were able to travel together some and went south a few winters. They made friends everywhere they went. After Bill’s passing in 2010, Granny moved to Eau Claire to be closer to her daughters and other family.
Granny was always the life of the party. She loved to dress up, her favorite color being purple, and goof around with everyone. Her friends called her “Crazy Lady” or “Crazy Jeannie.” She was a known prankster, and on more than one occasion fibbed about it being her birthday when out to dinner for the excitement of it and, of course, the free ice cream. She loved to laugh and was always trying to make others laugh too, and that she did! She was a true kid at heart and took pleasure in playing games, doing puzzles, and picking out entertaining toys and trinkets during her weekly shopping trips.
She loved to dance, sing and was one of those people who could play music by ear. A self-taught musician, she could play the piano, organ, and harmonica like no one’s business. In her younger years she taught dance at Arthur Murray dance studio. She even once shared a dance with Johnny Cash! She could knit & crochet and made many treasures in her day. In recent years her hands gave her a lot of trouble, but she still managed to whip out a hat or two!
Granny embraced technology and was the first person many of us knew to get a computer in the 90s. She enjoyed playing on her iPad and iPhone, and many times stopped people in their tracks at the sight of a woman in her 80s typing and sending texts while out and about. This past Christmas she wanted (and of course got) an Alexa speaker. She and Alexa were great friends and played great music together!
She loved dogs and she had many in her life, all of which were spoiled rotten. Her latest, a teddy bear breed, was “Honey,” and he lived up to his name. He loved her as much as she loved him, and he brought her great joy during their time together. As Granny would say, “life is short, get the puppy!”
Granny will be dearly missed by her daughters, Cheryl (Kevin) Flynn of Chippewa Falls and Sandra (Ron) Mahder of Elk Mound; two grandchildren, Tina James and Cory (Lindsay Olson) Mahder; three great-grandsons, Chance, Tucker, and Aidin Goulet; special friend Nora Schumacher, whom Granny called Honey’s “utter mutter;” and many nieces, nephews, other relatives, and an infinite number of special friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husbands, sisters Lois Ring and Eileen Meklin, and a brother-in-law, Ralph Ring, Sr.
The family would like to thank Kay and Sarah for their help in making it possible for Granny to stay comfortably in her home.
A Celebration of Life will be held from Noon to 4 pm on Sunday, February 10, 2019, at the WEST CHAPEL of Lenmark-Gomsrud-Linn Funeral Home, 1405 N. Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire. The family requests that visitors bring their laughter and smiles and wear something fun in honor of Granny.
For online condolences please visit www.lenmarkfh.com.