Miriam A. (Netzel) Babula of Monroe, WI, passed into heaven peacefully, surrounded by the love of her family at the age of 95, on Monday, March 23, 2020. She was the daughter of the late Walter F. and Clara (Gesteland) Netzel of Crandon, WI. Upon graduating from high school, Miriam worked for 2 years in Milwaukee at Allis-Chalmers during World War II. She attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison, graduating with honors in 1948, with a major in Education and a minor in Spanish. She taught middle and high school students and in June of 1949 married Walter Babula. They moved to Monroe, WI in 1960, where Walter had accepted the position of high school principal.
Miriam raised 4 cherished daughters, Mary, Jeanne, Elizabeth “Betsy”, and Amy and instilled in them her love of learning, compassion, determination, nurturing spirit, passion for life, and strong will.
Miriam’s passion for teaching, leading, and deepening her faith, led her to be very active in the Monroe United Methodist Church. She chaired and served on innumerable committees including the Board of Trustees, Pastor – Parish Relations, Finance, Missions, Worship, and the Building Committee that designed and oversaw the construction of a new building in 1981. She served as a lay member to the Wisconsin Annual Conference for many years and was well-known throughout the conference for her service and dedication. She was also a certified lay speaker and preached in congregations around the area.
She was an active member of United Methodist Women, teaching for many years at their Conference Schools of Christian Mission, serving on many district and statewide boards, and participating in her local organization as a leader and member for years. She received an award which she cherished for her distinguished service to the organization.
She also served for many years on the board and committees of Church Women United of Wisconsin, where she met many dear friends.
Miriam was a lifelong avid reader. She served on the Monroe Library Board of Trustees and was the proud owner of a Gold Card for her significant contributions and years of service. She was also a published writer of both prose and poetry.
Miriam served as a Girl Scout leader and Sunday School teacher, writing and directing the Christmas programs. She also worked with special education students as a teaching aide at Abraham Lincoln School.
She was an avid knitter and sewer, designing and making garments for family and friends. She was a superb baker known for her homemade bread, rolls, and pies. Classical music was another passion of Miriam’s and she especially enjoyed listening to her granddaughters play. She also was a lover of science and nature, and an avid birder who loved to search for bluebirds, cardinals, orioles, and the first robin. She often hiked in New Glarus Woods, and other state and local parks looking for wildflowers and the first signs of spring.
Miriam loved to celebrate her Norwegian heritage with a strong cup of coffee and delighted in good conversation and anything chocolate. She had a warm smile for everyone and often a mischievous twinkle in her eye to go with it. Miriam’s incredible spirit will live on through the countless lives she has touched and inspired.
She is survived by three daughters, Jeanne Babula (Kent Pieper), Monroe; Elizabeth Merry (Andy), Antigo; and Amy Babula (Clyde Drake), Stoughton; as well as three granddaughters; and a sister, Elysa Rae, York, PA; plus many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her daughter, Mary Babula, Madison; husband, Walter Babula, Monroe; and siblings, Walter Netzel, Grand Coulee, WA; Harriet Bott, La Crescent, MN; and Marjorie Dexheimer, York, PA.
A Celebration of Miriam’s Life will be planned for a later date. The family would like to give a heartfelt thanks to the caregivers at Aster Assisted Living of Monroe, Hand in Hand, and the Monroe Clinic Hospice for their compassionate care and dedication.