Obituary of Sharon Wissbaum
On Friday, April 7, 2023 we said goodbye to Sharon Wissbaum. She passed away in the home she loved, holding the hand of her husband of 61 years, Ronald Wissbaum. Her sons, Dirken Lee, Darin and Devin Wissbaum and her granddaughter, Megan Wissbaum were right by her side.
Sharon was born on April 22, 1941 to Dorothy and Nick Karzin in Rock Island, IL. She was one of nine children: Jim, Ruth, Harold, Dodie, Richard, Billie, Connie, and Tony. She grew up in Rock Island, IL and attended Rock Island Villa de Chantal school for girls and boasted about being a Villa Girl throughout her entire life. She proudly graduated from Rock Island “Rocky” High School in 1959.
She met her husband Ron in the kitchen of her childhood home in the Spring of 1959. Ron and her brother Connie were friends and were catching up after Ron returned from his U.S. Air Force tour in the Pacific. She said her hello’s and made a long-distance phone call to her best friend Nancy Nelson who lived in Omaha, Nebraska and said, “you’ll never guess what is sitting at my kitchen table right now”. According to the story Nancy responded with “well bring him to Okoboji this summer”. Sharon’s parents Dorothy and Nick ran Karzin’s Camp Illini, a little cabin resort in Wahpeton, IA for 18 years. Sharon’s love affair with Lake Okoboji started at a young age and never truly stopped. In 2012 she added a memorial bench to her parents final resting place in Rock Island Memorial Park Cemetery in Rock Island, IL. The bench is adorned with “mom and dad, thanks for the lake”.
Sharon and Ron married on September 2, 1961 at Saint Mary Catholic Church in Rock Island, IL. Sharon worked as a typist for the Rock Island Argus in Rock Island, IL, the Times Democrat in Davenport, IA and the Naperville Sun Newspaper in Naperville, IL. She loved being a career woman and frequently reminisced on how impressed her bosses were with how fast she could type. They often told her if she typed any faster her fingers would start a fire. She worked for 17 years before putting her typewriter away to be a stay-at-home mom to her three rambunctious teenage boys.
In 1983 the Wissbaum family bought a cabin at Lake Okoboji where the family would spend their summers, but in 1990, after Ron retired from AT&T, they moved to the lake full time. She spent her retirement years sharing the love of “her” lake with her children, grandchildren, family and friends. She loved to take the boat out and chase waves followed by a late-night fire in the backyard with smores. She spent her mornings on her front porch overlooking Lake Okoboji sipping coffee and iced tea.
Sharon was fearless and bold. She never did anything that she did not want to do and if she didn’t agree with what you were doing, she would let you know that too. She didn’t shy away from hard conversations or tasks. She was a woman of action. She was kind and so talkative that she would make friends wherever she went. When Sharon Wissbaum loved you, you had a friend for life; regardless of the time between visits or the miles separating the two. Her laugh was infectious. She loved being outdoors, spending many of her weekend’s camping, working in her beautiful flower garden or perfecting her breaststroke when she was a younger. She was fiercely protective of her children and grandchildren and reminded them how much she loved them through her baking. Sharon loved music especially Cher, Elvis Presley, and Dean Martin. She would dance and sing around her entire home and eventually the entire family would be preforming with her. She was the heart and soul of the Wissbaum family; her legacy will live on for generations to come.
Her memory, stories and spunk will live on through those who loved her most: her husband Ronald Wissbaum and their children: Dirken Lee, Darin, and Devin Wissbaum, her grandchildren Zachary and Cheyenne (Bean), Megan and Brooklyn Wissbaum, along with her great-grandchildren Brayden and Connor Wissbaum. She is survived by her sister Dodie Hartman and brother Richard Karzin. She is preceded in death by her mother and father, two sisters and four brothers.
No services have been scheduled at this time, but she will be buried in the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, IL.