Obituary: JoAnn Jabrocki, 76, of Ludington

October 8, 2022

Joann Jabrocki

Obituary: JoAnn Jabrocki, 76, of Ludington

JoAnn Jabrocki, 76, Ludington, known to her family affectionately as “Meem,” died Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022.

JoAnn Elida Utz was born to Aloysius William and Elida Justina (Olofsson) Utz on March 15, 1946.

She was the baby of the family, the one girl after five older brothers. Born on her father’s birthday, JoAnn was told she was his greatest birthday gift.

The daughter of her Swedish immigrant mother, JoAnn learned the importance of hard work and had her first job at Moline’s Soda Bar at age 12. That soda bar was where she met the love of her life, Ronnie, who took breaks from his job at the corner grocery store, Market Basket, to run over for an ice cream in the hope of catching JoAnn’s eye.
JoAnn married Ronald Stanley Jabrocki on Jan. 26, 1965. Together they raised three daughters, Kimberly, Dana and Patti. Ronnie and the girls loved and adored JoAnn, their biggest cheerleader, favorite cook, best listener, most passionate defender, kindest welcomer, and family comedian who enjoyed surprising people as entertainment.

She grew up a member of St. Simon Catholic Church, attending the related school, graduating from St. Simon High School in 1964. She earned her certification in cosmetology at City College in Green Bay, Wisconsin, landing her the position of chief hair stylist for family, friends and neighbors. In the ’80s there were more perms given in the family kitchen some days than there were meals, and there were a lot of meals.

JoAnn was known for her hospitality and welcoming nature. If she knew (or had an inkling) you were coming, your favorite dinner was on the menu, already in the oven and ready for you when you arrived. Almost until her last breath she was asking, “Can I get you something?” She instilled the love of hospitality in her children and grandchildren and while there are excellent cooks in the family, none of us has been able to replicate her recipes. Hers were made with a special dose of love, something we now refer to as her Meem dust, sprinkled like pixie dust around anything in her midst.
Mind, body and spirit all needed to be nurtured, she would show all who knew her.

She instilled a lifelong love of learning in her family, leading by example in continuing her education through classes at West Shore Community College, reading, always reading, and encouraging her children and grandchildren as they continued their education as well, sending the best care packages on the planet, homemade cakes and cookies, cute clothes, spending money, and often some quirky surprise.

In addition to valuing education, JoAnn instilled the importance of physical fitness and proper nutrition. She was a certified fitness instructor and for as long as she was able, she worked out and provided her family and friends with healthy meals. There were so many great dishes, the kids and grandkids are creating a cookbook of their favorites, complete with related stories from Meem’s Kitchen.

Her faith was integrated into every aspect of her life, and she spread God’s love wherever she went. She made friends instantly, on an elevator ride, at the beach, in the store, during appointments, in foreign countries, and right next door. If you knew her, you knew she loved you and you loved her right back. It was unavoidable. Ask anyone who started a conversation with her while they were crabby … the crankiness didn’t last. She’d love it right out of you. “You have to let them know they’re lovable,” she’d say.

As much as she devoted her life to her children and their interests, she especially took delight in spending time with her grandchildren, playing on the floor with whatever they loved, never minding the mess. Meem, dubbed by her eldest grandchild Christoffer, was not only joyful in their play but in all their pursuits, but they never had to perform to earn her love. She cheered whether we came in first or last and if you were near her, you were cheering, too. Her enthusiasm was infectious.

JoAnn loved pets, the family dogs and cats, and in recent years became especially keen on dogs, black Labs in particular, including her own Abby, Sadie and Lucy, but she was drawn to all dogs. She was known to cross the street and spark up a friendship with any dog she’d see.

Following their local daughters and grandchildren, Ron and JoAnn joined Emanuel Lutheran Church, where they were grateful to be welcomed and grow in their faith. Emanuel was Elida’s first church when she arrived from Sweden, and her family was thrilled to be able to attend church with their mother’s/grandma’s cousins.

JoAnn is survived by her husband, Ronnie; daughters, Kimberly (Tony) Hamm, Dana (Chuck) Evans, Patti (Andy) Klevorn; grandchildren, Christoffer Patterson, Kailey (Conrad) Ruffilo, Tony “TJ” Hamm, Chris Hamm, Cassie Hooper, Alex Church, Madeline (Nick) Owens, Natalie Church and Olivia Klevorn; several great-grandchildren; brothers, Carl Utz and James (Nancy) Utz; sisters-in-law Mary Beth Utz and Nancy Bowne, brother-in-law Jim (Suzanne) Jabrocki, many nieces and nephews whom she loved like her own children, extended family, friends, and her most recent furry companion, Bitzy.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Al and Elida Utz; brothers, Joe, Daniel and John Utz; sister-in-law Shirley Utz, brother-in-law Don Bowne, and nephews Michael and Tom Utz.

Due to JoAnn’s love of dogs, the family asks that if you would like to make a contribution in JoAnn’s memory to consider a donation to Mason County Mutts, P.O. Box 74, Ludington, MI 49431 or an animal help organization of your choice.

A Celebration of Life service is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022 at the Harbor View Marina clubhouse, 400 S. Rath Ave., with an open house-style visitation and meal to follow from 5 to 7 p.m.

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