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Joan E. Polasky

Joan E. Polasky

Joan Elaine Polasky of Menomonie, WI passed away on Friday, November 26th, 2021 at St. Mary’s hospital in Rochester, MN. She died from a particularly aggressive cancer.

Joan was born on August 25th, 1958 in Waukesha, WI to parents Harold and Jeanne (Maney) Polasky and moved to Menomonie when she was 3 years old. While attending the old St. Joe’s Elementary School, she was a very active Brownie, Girl Scout and organizer of recess fun. During her Menomonie High School years, Joan was active in Home Ec. club, German club, supported sports teams as a pom-pom girl and worked at the Kernel Restaurant.

UW Madison granted Joan both a bachelors and masters degree in Business Administration and Finance. When not studying, she was working as a picture framer or librarian and crafting. And she never once missed a Saturday Badger home football game at Camp Randall during her entire college stay. 

Joan’s business career led her to Chicago and St. Paul. As a project manager, she supported Information Technology and Leadership Development efforts. Later, Joan earned certification as a Personal and Professional Coach by attending the Coaches Training Institute in San Francisco. She started her own practice dedicated to helping people design the life they want to lead and live “on purpose.”

Joan loved nothing more than learning. She was always a student and always a teacher. Her other interests included life coaching, mental health advocacy, library programs, scuba diving, plants, and animal humane society support. The principle guiding Joan’s life from kindergarten to her last life session was: share joy and you will know joy. Her passion was to create joy always, and in all ways. The deepest joy she ever experienced was to love and be loved by her beloved dogs: Merlin (her miniature schnauzer) and Livi (her viscla). 

In 2004 Joan returned to Menomonie where she enjoyed “simple abundance” - learning, doggie delight, friends, coffee dates, nature, reading, writing and various volunteer work. Much of her focus was with the Greater Menomonie Area Community Foundation, Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts, Dunn County Humane Society, and the Menomonie Public Library.

Joan was preceded in death by her parents, Harold and Jeanne Polasky, a brother Jerry Polasky, paternal grandparents Frank and Celia Polasky, and maternal grandparents Louise and Burdette Mealy.

She is survived by special friends, Judy Schindler (Menomonie) and Ed Hewitt (Atlanta, GA).  She is further survived by sisters, Judy (Carl Willard) Polasky and Mary (Nick) Rassbach; nieces, Anne (Jason) Hasse and their children, Grace, Adison, and Jai; Jill (Brent) Pember and their children, Chase and Tyler; sister-in-law, Pam Polasky; nephews, Joshua Polasky and Jon (Marcy) Polasky and their children, Jacob, Jackson, Annabeth, Elleanor, and many close friends. Joan had several close friends that definitely felt like family to her.

A Celebration of Joan’s life will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 PM Friday December 10th, 2021 at Rhiel Funeral Home in Menomonie, WI with a Memorial Service at 2:00 PM. The Memorial Service will be live streamed on the Rhiel Funeral Home Facebook page. Joan will be interred at St. Joseph Cemetery in Menomonie.


  1. Ed Hewett

    It's taken me a long time to write this condolence. I think I've hesitated because it makes her passing real. Like many others when I think of Joan the words that come to mind are JOY, ENERGY, and CARING. With Joan you have to put the word FIERCE in front of each of those. Joan never did anything without putting all of her energy into it and that was especially true in the friendships she cultivated. I'm so thankful that we maintained such a friendship over the years. From debating about the silly things like which way the TP roll should go and what was better living in cold weather in Wisconsin or Hot weather in Florida to our serious deep discussions we always found time to share a laugh and smile. Joan, Thank you for being the friend everyone needed.

  2. Joleen Sterk

    Joan was a rare and special gift...she was a frequent visitor to her public library, and left a permanent mark on us all. Joan's wild enthusiasm for embracing ALL that life had to offer, her ability to see and celebrate people for who they truly were, her love of language, beauty, and creativity, and her passion for learning and curiosity are some of the many aspects of Joan that I already miss. She CHOSE to live in joy, and I will strive to do the same, in honor of this remarkable soul. My deepest condolences to those who were lucky enough to be counted among her nearest and dearest.

  3. Deborah Schroeder-Saulnier

    Dear Joan. What a beautiful service for a beautiful you! I am happy to have teamed with you at Right Management so many years ago and will miss our long-standing friendship. I re-read our emails from the many years ago and it brought tears to my eyes. I have so enjoyed your never-ending joy-ful spirit and for bringing me into "Team Joan". Thank you for our wonderful conversations just days before you left our presence ... way too soon. Yet, you are at peace now and without pain. God is Good! Love always, Debbie

  4. Ted Stark

    I always enjoyed our conversations at the library. A highlight of the day when she'd stop in. Widely read, a strong supporter, and a joy to talk with.

  5. Brianna Peterson

    Joan was one of my favorite customers who came into Marion's, always with a giant smile on her face and a fun story to share. Joan and I spent many early mornings laughing about all sorts of stuff, including Donny Osmond. I will never forget that conversation. She even made me earrings for my birthday one year, and I hope to wear those on Friday. I will miss you, friend!!

  6. Sue Mork

    Joan…you always added a spark to life. From grade school at St Joe’s to playing softball for the Pro Shop our senior year of school. I will so much miss your Birthday messages.they always brightened my day. Rest In Peace my Friend.

  7. Diane Traxler Fredrick

    Joan was the brightest light in first grade at St. Joe's and her light continues even now. She was intelligent, kind, and creative. Her friendship never faded and she always sent her love and cheer each year. A favorite memory of Joan is when she generously offered to make my wedding flowers. They were so beautiful. Miss you already Joan.

  8. Fran Mackin

    Joan was like a flower planted in the garden of life of so many - bring her beauty and sharing her many gifts. I feel so blessed to have had the privilege of knowing Joan. Her approach to “simple abundance” in her life in Menomonie has been inspirational. Her focus on JOY a wonderful reminded of how one person can impact others in so many profound ways. Think often of Joan's bountiful approach to each day, no matter how that day unfolded.

    My special thoughts to each of you that have been with Joan over the last few weeks. Thank You!

  9. Nancy Rice Mesko

    “My heart is broken....
    It is hard to imagine a world without Joan - my dear friend for over 42 years. Not a week would go by that I wouldn't hear from her....Joan put more energy and dedication into being a friend than I have ever known.”

  10. Gerald Stiff

    We lived near Joan in Minnesota. We benefited from her class about making life choices based on values and purpose. Joan and Merlin were especially good to Jerry's parents, laughing with mom and listening about WWII with dad. We shared an awe for nature. She instilled that attitude of JOY.
    We will remember you, Joan.
    Dianne and Jerry Stiff

  11. Judy Holmes

    Joan has been on my mind the last few days. I just did an online search for a phone number, thinking I would give her a call. We exchanged Christmas cards to keep updated. I cannot believe Joan died from cancer. I hope she made a loud joyous entrance into heaven with her laughter, great smile & her energizer-bunny energy!

    I worked with Joan in St. Paul at Continental Cablevision. Joan was a hard worker - dedicated, smart & tons of fun. I still can hear her laughter. Joan had a way of saying your name as though you were the most important person in the world!

    The world has lost a delightful person . . . my thoughts & prayers are with Joan's family & friends.

  12. Sue Halama

    I will forever remember Joanie as a wonderful joy!! When she would walk into Marion’s in the morning I knew we would have a wonderful and insightful conversation. She shared so much and I loved seeing her. I know she is walking in the early morning creating wonderful sunrises for us. Love you friend ????????

  13. Bob Salt

    Joan was one of the most thoughtful and generous people I know. She always went out of her way to send love and support to others. She also often brought a May Day basket over each spring. She will be dearly missed. Blessings and RIP, Joan.

  14. Jan Rohde

    I am so sad to learn of Joan’s cancer and passing. We shared so many fun times together during high school and college. A particularly fun memory is a trip to Florida with her roommate Mickey. Rest In Peace, dear friend. I know that life can bring many challenges - all of which you braved like a true warrior. Judy & Carl, my sincere condolences for this loss. Hugs to all.????

  15. Katie Johnson

    Joan had a way of bringing joy to all around her. She provided support when you needed it the most and surprised you with boxes of happiness when you were least expecting it. She was gifted a spirit that always put others first. I will miss seeing her bright and early on walks, her infectious goofy laugh, and her special notes of well-being. Like none other, we miss you and love you.

  16. TinaTharp

    You will be missed Joan. I will always think of you when I see the word JOY. Thank you for all the beautiful messages, quotes and pictures you shared. RIP dear friend, you will alway hold a special place in my heart and in my family.

  17. Peggy Richartz

    My heart goes out to the entire family of Joan. She and I share the same birthday. We used to have fun together in Madison while attending college. She was an amazing young lady.

  18. Ann Orchard

    Joan was truly an amazing person who embodied goodness and joy. She was an inspiration to me. Heaven just gained a beautiful angel.

  19. Monica Scott

    RIP dear Joan Polasky. Your light and joy and beauty shone so brightly throughout all you touched. Heaven just got brighter and more joyous. Your laughter and love will be sorely missed. I will miss our POJO so much at the library. Tell Livi hello from Luna.

  20. Peter DSouza

    Joan was a special friend. Her love for glass mosaics brought us together. Her positive energy and love of dogs will be missed.

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