In Memory of

Joan Rose Theisen-Cronin

April 20, 1928 - July 23, 2020
From: Marcus, IA

Joan Rose Schilmoeller Theisen Cronin never complained, and she accepted loss – unless she was playing Scrabble.

 She died July 23 at age 92 in Marcus, Iowa, where she retired in 1982 after a life on the farm. Joan was a devoted Roman Catholic and tireless daughter, mother, and wife whose life overflowed with family and with hard work.

 Joan was born on a farm near Granville, Iowa on April 20, 1928, the second of seven children born to Joseph Schilmoeller and Agnes Laddusaw Schilmoeller. She grew up in a primarily German-Catholic family in an area so heavily German Catholic that nearly all of Granville was a member of the same Catholic church, St. Joseph. In Joan’s childhood, the presiding priest was bilingual and conducted masses in German in the parish’s early years. Joan loved church, especially the music. She excelled at the organ and was a natural at her studies, graduating from St. Joseph High School in 1946. She got all A’s – and she was not afraid to say so. 

 A year later, she married Elmer Theisen, whom she had first spotted at Mass when he was home on R&R from the war. She fancied him. He was tall and handsome and he was Catholic, of the Luxembourg strain. She was pretty and sweet and small but tough. He found that she believed in God and good manners and modesty. She believed in moving forward. So he fancied her too.

 They farmed near Marcus, Iowa and started a family. Joan had 14 children but lost three as babies: Jack, Joseph and Mary. She suffered those losses while continuing to mother her surviving children and partnering in the farm labor – cooking and butchering and canning and gardening and laundering soiled work clothes by hand. It was several years before she had indoor plumbing. Together, she and Elmer raised 11 boisterous children who swarmed dance floors at weddings while she was content to look on.

 Elmer died in 1988. Two years later, Joan married Joe Cronin, another retired farmer. He was her second love. They loved to play games and travel until his death in 2008.

 Joan played the organ at Holy Name Parish, where she was a member for 70 years. She joined Hobby Club. She took up golf in retirement. Among her children and grandchildren, she developed a reputation as a fierce player of board games like Scrabble and card games like Pinochle and Five Hundred. She watched Judge Judy and Jeopardy on TV and embroidered dish towels. She was not a globe trotter but she loved to see new places. She visited Alaska on a cruise.

 Joan possessed an infallible and capacious memory, a virtual encyclopedia of details -- many about family. She would follow up with children and grandchildren about their jobs and personal lives. She decorated her bulletin board with their photos. She kept track of who visited, and who did not.

 Joan saw the death of her son, Randy, also in 2008, and the death of her daughter, Denise, in 2019. In grief she said, “I have lived too long.” Still, Joan fought cancer until the end. She lived longer than anyone thought possible for such a small person who had endured so much.

Joan will be remembered by her family for her strength.

  She is preceded in death by husbands: Elmer Theisen and Joe Cronin. Parents: Joe and Agnes (Laddusaw) Schilmoeller. Children: John, Mary, Joseph, Randy and Denise. Grandson: Ryan Grzywa. Son in law: Dennis La Fleur. Sisters: Vera Mae (Wally) Nilles, Eileen (Joe) Schueder. Brother: Joe (Fran) Schilmoeller, and stepson Pat Cronin. In laws: Therry and Gib Weiler, Reynold and Rita Theisen, Sally and Richard Henke, Cyril Theisen, Ivan Theisen, Rita and Dave McCarty, Shirley and Sonny Gengler, and Lois Theisen.

 She is survived by children: Mick (Jean) Theisen of Marcus, IA; Deb (Rick) Hellman of Burt, Iowa; Patty (Joe) Schulte of Omaha, NE; Gail (Rich) Grzywa of Omaha, NE; Kim Theisen of Le Mars, IA: Christy (Scott) Carlson of Marcus, IA; Paula (Tom) Kleen of Sioux City, IA; Brian (Lorie) Theisen of LeMars, IA; Marilyn (Rod) Wellman of Sioux City, IA; Mark (Julie) Theisen of LeMars, IA; thirty-three grandchildren, forty-two great grandchildren, one great, great granddaughter. Sisters: Helen Theisen, Janice (Dick) Wurth, and Diane (Dennis) Haupert. Sister-in-law: Yvonne Theisen. Eleven step children, thirty-four step grandchildren, and twenty-five step great grandchildren. Many nieces and nephews.

Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 28, 2020, at Holy Name Catholic Church in Marcus. Social distancing will be practiced and masks will be mandatory. Seating in the church will be limited. We will have a full livestream of the service on Joan's obituray page on the funeral home website.
Father Bill McCarthy
Public visitation with the family present will be held on Monday, July 27, 2020, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Greenwood-Schubert Funeral Home in Marcus. Social distancing and masks will be required at the funeral home.
Holy Name Catholic Cemetery
Marcus, Iowa


Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 1:30 PM
“..certainly, no 'gate' awaited Joan, the Rose, - - only broad Welcome!! I join the outstanding number of mourners, as a celebrant of Holy Mass for her eternal reward and PEACE. Fr. Gene”
- Fr. Gene Sitzmann
Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 1:30 PM
“I was fortunate to know Joan thru the Mission Group at Holy Name. She was always willing to do her part in tying blankets for babies. I learned a lot from Joan and this group. And I really liked her heart warming smile. Joe and I's prayers are with all of your families.”
- Peg Wurth
Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 1:30 PM
“Just to let you know that we are keeping the entire Elmer and Joan (Cronin) Theisen cousins in our thoughts and prayers. Fond memories of family get-togethers when we were kids. ”
- Jerry & Gwen Weiler
Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 1:30 PM
“Gail - love and prayers to you and your family. Mom’s are pretty darn special she will always be with you. ”
- Debbie Karavas
Tuesday, August 4, 2020 at 1:30 PM
“You have our sincerest sympathy on the loss of your mother, grandmother,and great grandmother! She sounded like a smart, loving, faith-filled, very hard-working woman who left quite a legacy of Theisens! May God give you peace and comfort in your loss. Sincerely, Craig and Susan Arnold”
- Craig & Susan Arnold
Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“Gail, Rich and family, so very sorry for your loss. She will live on in your hearts.”
- Patty Dwornicki
Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“Keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers. Aunt Joanie always was laughing and smiling.
- Kim Henke Thompson
Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“What a fine lady we were blessed to know. You will miss her. Although she loved life she is in a good place. At peace. Eternal rest grant unto her o Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her. God’s blessings to you all. Love and prayers. ”
- Dennis and Tootie
Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“Joan was a very special woman whom I respected deeply. ”
- Claudette Staab
Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“My sympathy at the death of Joan! Remembering times past while visiting "out west'!! May she be with God! May you be at peace!! wish I could be there!!”
- Mary Lechtenberg
Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“my thoughts and prays are with the family”
- wayne gengler
Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 9:09 AM
“Please accept my deepest sympathies in the passing of Mrs. Theisen Cronin. I especially want to send my condolences to Paula and her family. I remember your mom as this tiny little lady with a big smile and boundless energy. I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.”
- Penny Bierman
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