Obit: Jonkel, Theo (1926 - 1999)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Jonkel, Yndogliato

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 3/03/1998 (Scrapbook of Agnes Mohr Hermeling)

Jonkel, Theo (28 April 1926 – 24 February 1999)

Theo Jonkel, age 73 gently died Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Memorial Nursing Home, where he had been a resident for several years.

Theo was born April 28, 1926, in Chicago, Il, and later moved with her mother and two brothers to Clark County. She like her brothers, attended Sunny Nook School in Columbia and Neillsville High School, graduating in 1943, then moved to Seattle, WA, where she pursued a university career in journalism and art. She later moved to San Francisco working in the same fields.

While in San Francisco, Theo rebuilt and created The Balcalutha Museum and sailing ship. When the city adopted the site as a City Museum, Theo lost her job and much of her will and interest in art and history. She was caught in a time when women’s rights were not a high priority of government. Theo’s “new boss” gave her the boot, it seems. Illness brought her back to Wisconsin and she will be remembered here in Neillsville for her managing of the Community Clothing Store and her contribution to saving the O’Neill Creek Grand Avenue Bridge, which now has its home in Schuster Park. Theo’s articles in the Clark County Press and above all her caring nature for her peers, the environment and animals gradually redeemed her interest and passion in life. A stroke six years ago ended her activities but didn’t still her mind. Her caring for animals and friends lived on. From her concerns about trees, local history, the Jail Museum, wildlife of all sorts, the environment and resources of the world and her cats, Theo was driven to re-cycle clothes and help those critters and people more in need than her. Through her newspapers columns, Theo pointed out errors in county forest management; she helped to create WINKS as a local wetland, and, she told stories of local history and people.

Theo is survived by her mother, Ruby Yndogliato, two brothers, George Jonkel, Fountain, FL and Charles Jonkel, Missoula, Mt, nieces, nephews and many cousins. She was preceded in death by her father George Jonkel and by her step-father, Thomas Yndogliato.

The Gesche Funeral Home assisted the family with cremation and A Celebration of Theo’s Life will be held at a later date with a memorial service. Memorials may be sent to the Clark County Humane Society or to the great Bear Foundation, Box 9383, Missoula, MT 59807.

In a later issue of the Clark County Press is this Celebration of Life for Theo Jonkel. No date on issue.

Jonkel Memorial A Celebration of Life By Susan Peters (Scrapbook of Agnes Mohr Hermeling)

At the home of Ruby Yndogliato, last Sunday, friends and family gathered in remembrance and in celebration of the life and contributions of Theo Jonkel, Yndogliato’s daughter, who passed away Feb. 24th of this year.

A room of the home had been prepared as a comfortable study for reflection of Jonkel’s work and special moments of her life. Photos, articles, poetry, paintings and scrapbooks spoke clearly of her life’s focus and priorities. Many of those present, nearly 40 people, spoke up as well. “Theo would stand up and be counted, where others stand back,” said Donald Erpenbach, a nephew of Yndogliato. He admired Jonkel’s desire to preserve posterity and her detachment from the rush of the times.

Debbi Wise, a friend of Jonkel’s since 1984, saw her as a community caretaker. “Theo seemed to be in tune with what this community needed,” she said. “She cared for everybody.”

Wise recalled Jonkel as the first person to welcome her to Neillsville. She had dropped off donations and picked up a few things at the Community Clothing Center, which Jonkel helped to maintain. Jonkel had written on her bag, “Welcome to Neillsville.” They went on to become good friends.

Jonkel’s brothers, Chuck, now residing in Montana, and George now residing in Florida, mingled with those paying tribute to their sister, sharing stories and discussing issues, such as those so important to Jonkel conservation, wildlife and preservation of the historically significant.

Activists themselves, they also led lives with similar goals and principles. Both are biologists, committed to a thorough knowledge of their chosen fields; Chuck Jonkel is a bear biologist, president of The Great Bear Foundation and co-editor of “The Bear News” newspaper of Missoula, Mt. George is a bird biologist, whose experience led to travel and instruction, world-wide.

Mary Hawver, of Evansville, WI., and the other co-editor of “Bear News,” said of the Jonkel’s, “They are all good teachers, all the family. They help show us the way … not only on big issues, but little stuff. Some things we don’t think about. We need those who will, who do go out on the line to get things done.”

Theo Jonkel lived her life with a strong sense of community, those present at the memorial said and, like her brothers, had a knack for not only getting things started, but getting them done. She is considered, by many, as an example of how just one person can make a difference.

Some of the community support projects in which Jonkel played a part include: The Friends of the Library, The Clark County Historical Society, the Grand Ave. Bridge Preservation Project, Neillsville’s Farmer’s Market and the Humane Society. As Theo Jonkel once wrote: “Treat all things with courtesy and gentleness, for none of them were created by you … and all of them deserve, like you, consideration.”

(There were photos of Theo, Chuck and George, but unable to copy from scrapbook here. Dmk)

(Stan I always knew his name to be spelled Brooks and in other family obits it is Brooks, except one other & the #1 of his obit on the site. His Mom was a neighbor of ours and a helper of my Mom’s many years ago, like doing wallpapering, etc. She lived next to the South Pine Valley Cemetery on Sand Road.)



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