By Sheryl (Gumz) Albers-Anders
Editor’s note: The Wisconsin governor ordered flags at half-staff for my sister, who died May 28 after fighting pancreatic cancer. She wrote this obituary.
I was born on Sept. 9, 1954, the second daughter of eight children of my parents, Norma N. (Anderson) and Marcus J. Gumz. We lived in Sauk County, WI. I went to Baraboo High School, earned my bachelor’s in art with an emphasis in psychology from Ripon College, and later in life earned my law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
I was married to Jim Albers for 20 years and we have a son, Joel. I am married to Steve Anders now and we’ve been going strong since 2004. I’ve had a blessed life as a farmer, a legislator, and a lawyer in addition to wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend.
In my young life, I farmed with my family, producing mint oil and soybeans. Rough work. I worked in the potato grading line, picked and sold sweet corn at a roadside stand, and learned to operate nearly every piece of farm equipment we had.
I prepared payroll and financial reports while singing in choir and participating in Pep Club, French Club and Tri-Hi-Y, and enjoying weeknight skiing at Devil’s Head and Cascade, where I first got to know my future husband, Steve! But first…
The college years included working three jobs to pay for school, mainly in Wisconsin Dells. I went first to Carroll College, then to Ripon. I’d bring home fellow students to live and work on our farm during the summers. After college, due to my mom’s health issues and my dad’s urging, I went back to the farm to help out.
I have good memories of my adult time on the farm. I became active in the county Republican Party, served on the Sauk County Farm Bureau Board, got my private pilot’s license and owned a Terratorn Ultralight, and was named Sauk County Miss Farm Bureau.
Jim Albers and I married in 1978, and we were recognized as Outstanding Young Farmers. I was a founding member of the Sauk County Women in Agriculture-Eagle Bluff Chapter, a member of the WI Mint Growers Association, WI Muck Growers Association, and WI Drain Boards Association.
In 1991, I was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in a special election and served until my retirement in 2009. I worked hard on behalf of my constituents. I earned my law degree in 2004, then got my Madison College certificate in human resources in 2009. I practiced law and I worked in human resources at the Department of Corrections. When I wasn’t doing that, I really enjoyed traveling, sometimes to see my chosen “family around the world” with Steve.
I will particularly miss my friends from the FFA’s Work Experience Abroad Program: Christoph (France), Ruth (Switzerland), Anke, Elke, Christal and Juliane (Germany). Sending love to all.
I was quite the seamstress, sewing, tailoring, and devising garments for a variety of occasions. I was crafty, creating gifts for friends. Experiencing world travel and the amazing art in our world fed my soul. Going to races with Steve, enjoying the company of friends, hosting dinners, planning events, and digging deep in conversation to really connect with others … these were meaningful and crucial to my life.
I strove to live a life of faith and loyal service. My perspective was to do what I could while I was here and leave others in a better place after I’m gone.
My parents died before me.
I am survived by my spouse, Steve Anders of Cottage Grove; seven siblings Jolande “Jondi” Gumz (Bill Condy), Joy Gumz (Frank Parth), Heidi Gumz-James (Guy James), Melanie Gumz (Jim Tindall), Diane (David) Gates, Matthew Gumz, and Mark (Amy) Gumz; one son, Joel (Jessica) Albers; four stepchildren Kelly (Brad) Whalen, Devon (Marissa) Anders, Megan (Nic) Hickey, Tyler (Brooke) Anders; seven grandchildren Peyton and Owen Albers, Talyn and Trista Whalen, Jackson and Charlotte Anders and Remington Hickey; one niece, Madison James, and seven nephews Bryan Condy, Ty James, Max Gulyas, Duncan Gates, Eric, Drew and Cole Gumz.
To honor family members who have lived with the challenge of Huntington’s disease, consider sending memorials to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.