Michelle Ann Totzke, 44 of Rib Mountain gracefully entered her eternal life on June 27, 2019 after a courageous eight month battle against cancer. At the time of her return to her heavenly home she was surrounded by the singing of songs by her family and friends and held lovingly in the arms of Rich and their children.
Michelle was born to Rich and Rita Rennie, June 4, 1975 in Wausau, WI. Michelle graduated from Marathon High School in 1993 and received her paralegal degree from Western Wisconsin Technical College in 1997.
She married her high school sweetheart and love of her life Rich “Richie” Totzke on May 23, 1998 and had recently celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary. Michelle is survived by her husband Rich and their two children Alianna and Quentin, of Rib Mountain; her parents Rich and Rita Rennie, of Marathon and four siblings: Jennifer (Scott) Baumann, of Marathon, Craig (Briana) Rennie of Rib Mountain, Chris (Dallas) Rennie of Marathon, Ryan Rennie (Kelsey Haelfrisch) of Mosinee: her in-laws that loved her like a daughter and a sister: Myron and Karen Totzke of Rib Mountain, Jason (Holly) Totzke of Howard, WI and Michelle (Rob) Busse, of Farmington, MN . She is also survived by 17 nieces and nephews; Hunter, Mikayla, Zachary and Gabriella Baumann, Tatum, Kaden, Taelyn and Greyson Rennie, Caleb, Carmine, Cole, Carly, Chloe, Caycee and Corrie Busse and Madelyn and Aiden Totzke.
Michelle had three great loves in her life above all other things; Faith, Family and Friends. Words cannot adequately describe the unending passion Michelle had for these loves. They defined her every day life and were the foundation by which she lived. Michelle humbly lived these virtues which brought many closer to our Lord.
Michelle loved Jesus and what He meant in her life. She was consciously grateful for the blessings that she had been given and was always the first to acknowledge that these were gifts given to her, not something that she herself was responsible for. She loved her church family, particularly Pastor Lance and Pastor Jordan and was grateful for their unending prayers and support. She gained a passion and special appreciation for the music ministry that spoke to her heart and guided her life. This faith was tested time and time again throughout her eight month battle against cancer, with each disappointing test result or inability of doctors to find answers, yet she always took solace that her journey was in God’s hands. This faith was displayed courageously each evening as part of her prayers as she begged God to allow her to live, but only after praying for anyone else she knew that needed a prayer said on their behalf. Michelle’s desperate humility coexisted with a quiet acceptance that her life was under God’s control and trusting that things would work out as they were designed to, even if not as she wished. Her witness did not go unnoticed and even in death, she continues to lead us all closer to God.
Michelle’s greatest earthly possession was her family and there was not a close second place. She grew up in a loving and supportive family in which she admired her parents and all that they represented. Michelle’s mom, Rita was her best friend and when the two were described it was not uncommon for the saying to be said, “The apple did not fall far from the tree,” which was considered a compliment by both. Michelle cherished the relationships she had with her sister and brothers, particularly her ability to be a confidante, to bring joy and laughter into any situation, her gift of sincere honesty, and exceptional taste in just about anything. She was so proud of her brothers and sister and how each consistently demonstrated the values that had been displayed and engrained by their parents as they built their own lives.
As Michelle was loved growing up, she built her own family with Rich, Alianna and Quentin in that same manner. Her pride as a mother was on full display as Alianna would dance as part of Heidi’s Dance Studio or as Quentin played as part of the Wausau Comets because she cherished how happy they were being a part of these activities, rather than because of some measure of success they had obtained. Her joy came from their joy and she freely admitted to being one of those moms who might have been cheering just a bit too loud. As a wife, Michelle was unending in her support of Rich, with both viewing their marriage as a partnership of equals deeply rooted in loving each other and their children to build their life. Any measure of success that was achieved professionally by Michelle or Rich was always supported by a commitment to making sure the priorities of faith and family were not compromised. As a wife and a mother, Michelle was continually reminded that she was loved more than anything in this world by her family which gave her strength to fight so bravely, despite difficult odds against her cancer. The breadth of Michelle’s life in years was short, but she was loved deeply and without end for all of the years she was here.
As a friend, Michelle always – always saw the good in all and loved spending time with stranger turned friend. Without knowing, Michelle became an empathetic witness to those who needed her most. She found joy in their joys and healing, giving glory to God who used her as His instrument. Throughout her cancer battle, she took great comfort in the many people who reached out and shared how she had touched their life and were now returning the favor by praying for her and walking the journey alongside her the best they could.
Rich and Michelle would like to express their sincere appreciation, while inadequate to fully convey with appropriate depth the love and support displayed to Michelle by so many people. It was truly heartwarming and an affirmation that there is still much good in the world as evidenced by the kindness and selflessness that was on daily display throughout Michelle’s battle. God provided Michelle with exceptional “angels” in the form of doctors and nurses who went above and beyond their roles, to personally connect with Michelle and clear road blocks during each hospital stay. Michelle’s parents traveled with Rich and Michelle to virtually every appointment between Milwaukee and Rochester, while Alianna and Quentin were cared for by Rich’s parents Myron and Karen Totzke, along with the many aunts and uncles and family friends that all made sure life continued for Alianna and Quentin as best as possible. In addition, we would like to thank Michelle’s employer, Mid-Wisconsin Beverage, and her many friends and co-workers who kept Michelle in their constant prayer and contacted Michelle daily without exception. Additionally, Michelle desired to acknowledge the love and unwavering support of the Greenheck owners, directors, leadership team and caring team members, as well as the Quad Med staff. Due to the prayers and support of all, not once did Michelle fight her battle alone; her family is humbled by the kindness of so many. In this family no one fights alone….ever and we are forever grateful for those who joined and supported us in this fight. She may have lost the battle with cancer here on earth, but she never, ever gave up while at the same time kept her faith. Michelle will be remembered for her fight and those who were touched by Michelle’s life will carry her courage with them for a day that it is needed.
Funeral services will be held at 12:00 Noon on Wednesday, July 3, 2019 at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Weston. Rev. Lance Hoelscher will officiate. Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at the church and again from 9:00 a.m. until the time of service on Wednesday. Peterson/Kraemer Funeral home, Wausau is in charge of the arrangements.
A luncheon following the service will be held in Rib Mountain at a rustic outdoor venue that was a favorite to Michelle. The venue is located at 7700 Woodbine Lane in Rib Mountain and is open to all family and friends to celebrate her life.