Green Lake- Barbara Louise Friday Stracka (G’ma Barbara), age 88, of Appleton and Green Lake, passed away peacefully the day after the 4th of July, on a beautiful Sunday morning, July 5th, 2020. Barbara was born on December 20th, 1931 in Fond du Lac, WI to Floyd and Margaret (Sweeney) Friday of Markesan, WI.
Barbara’s life is best defined by her “Two Families”. Her city of Appleton “Friends & Family” and her town of Green Lake “Friends & Family” where she spent almost every summer of her life at the family lake cottage her parents purchased in September of 1936. The “Two Families” would often get together on Green Lake in the summer, or Appleton in the spring, fall and winter months. Barbara enjoyed a childhood growing up in Markesan which was only a few miles from the family summer cottage on the south shore of big Green Lake.
In Green Lake and Markesan, Barbara and her family enjoyed spending time with her parents, sister, husband, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and dear friends up and down the shoreline. She graduated from Markesan High School in 1949 and spent the next 4 years at UW Madison, where she received a degree in Home Economics/ Child Development in 1953. She was a member of the Alpha Phi Sorority. She enjoyed a memorable train ride with her friends in 1953 to watch the Wisconsin Badgers play USC. It was the Wisconsin Badgers first Rose Bowl appearance.
After college, Barbara moved to Appleton and her first job was as a kindergarten teacher at Jefferson Elementary School. She returned to teaching later in her life as a Montessori pre-school teacher at the Congregational Church in Appleton. While living in Appleton, she met the "the love of her life", Carl Anthony Stracka, and they were married on December 30th, 1954 in Fond du Lac, WI. They went to Mexico on their honeymoon and recalled seeing fireworks from the plane over Mexico City as they flew in on New Year’s Eve, celebrating the beginning of their new life together. That was the first of many beautiful trips. Barbara and her husband, Carl, settled in Appleton, where they designed and built their special home that they lived in for the next 60 years, enjoying family, friends, raising 3 children, welcoming grandchildren and great grandchildren. She also loved her Siamese Cats (Kiki a/k/a Claws, Sasha and Sua) and they were an important part of her family and life.
In Green Lake, she enjoyed volunteering for the Green Lake Yacht Club where she was a longtime member, helping with the Sailing School, and was a second-generation board member of the Green Lake Association. In her early years she raced in the Green Lake Yacht Club with her husband Carl in the iconic Star Fleet on Star Boat “1731” and the “Ladies” Pram races. Her final civic activity was to help create a comfort equipment project with her new friends at the Markesan Residential Home. “Headbands for Heroes” masks were sewn and donated to front-line Covid-19 health care workers.
Barbara loved to sing and play the piano, and enjoyed singing with her High School Choir and Trio in Markesan, with the All Saints Episcopal Church Choir for many years with her two daughters, Julie and Jeanne, and later in life singing with the Festival of Music Choir of Green Lake with her daughter and grandchildren, and also with the Federated Church Choir in Green Lake.
Barbara had a busy and active life with her “Friends & Family”. She enjoyed traveling and was fortunate to travel throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Spain, Austria and many other European countries with her husband Carl, their 3 children, grandchildren and friends. She was an avid reader, traveler, family historian, and loved sharing her knowledge of different cities, countries and cultures with her children and grandchildren. She always looked forward to her trips with her husband Carl to Marblehead, MA to see their son Jeff, Nancy & family and to Duxbury, MA to visit Jeff & Linda, where they enjoyed experiencing the Boston’s area’s historical sites and dining on local seafood with the family.
In Appleton, Barbara, as well as her husband Carl, were very active volunteers in their communities. She was a Cub Scout leader for her son Jeff, she delivered Meals on Wheels for many years, helped in her children’s school’s PTA and was very active in the Charitable Circle of King’s Daughters. She met a great group of life-long friends that loved to socialize via the many clubs she was a member of including the Dance Club, Potluck Dinner Club, Book Club and Bridge Club. “Friends & Family” often went on annual ski trips, holiday gatherings, Green Bay Packer and Wisconsin Badger football games, as well as summer Green Lake barbecues. She loved attending the Fox Valley Symphony, Broadway Shows at the PAC, and concerts at Lawrence University. She was so happy to be able to see both Hamilton and Phantom of the Opera this year, at the PAC with family.
In recent years, she and her husband moved to Green Lake to live year-round, to be near her two daughters. In Green Lake she loved to swim, sail, golf, play tennis, and go boating in the vintage wooden family Chris Craft her parents purchased for the lake cottage. She loved sitting on her screened porch and playing late night card games with her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She was known for her pancakes, and that favorite family recipe will forever be known as G’ma Barbara’s Pancakes.
Barbara is survived by her three children: Jeffrey (Linda Klein) Stracka of Duxbury, MA; Julie (Michael) Jankowski of Green Lake, WI; and Jeanne (Michael) Shohoney of Ripon, WI; 8 grandchildren: Lauren (Greg) Fulton of San Francisco, CA; Nikki Stracka of New York, NY; Ava (Mark) Sommerhauser of Stoughton, WI; Stefan (Kara) Jankowski of Green Lake, WI; Anna (Dr. Neel Patel) Jankowski of Portland, OR; Ryan (Amanda Belanger) Shohoney of Madison, WI; Ross Shohoney of Chicago, IL and Reed Shohoney of Ripon, WI; great granddaughter, Eloise Sommerhauser; great grandson, Nash Sommerhauser both of Stoughton, WI; Nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her husband, Carl Anthony Stracka; her parents, Floyd and Margaret Sweeney Friday; her sister, Eugenia Ann Whelihan (Kuku); daughter-in- law Nancy Cohen Stracka.
An Episcopal Mass and Celebration of Life is planned for the Summer of 2021. Barbara will be laid to rest next to her husband, Carl, at the Green Lake Dartford Cemetery. Memorial Gifts may be donated to the Green Lake Association, Green Lake Festival of Music, the Green Lake Thrasher Opera House, or the Fox Valley Symphony in her name: Barbara F. Stracka. Divine Passage Funeral Home in Ripon is proudly serving the family. divinepassagefunerals.com