Joan Elizabeth Schulz was born on July 4, 1936, in Mitchell, SD, and was the daughter of John and Margaret (Caspers) Kotrba.
Joan had a life-long commitment to learning and education and she loved to share her passion with anyone she met. Joan attended Betts Country School until the eighth grade and she graduated from Notre Dame Academy in 1954. After high school, Joan left home to attend St. Theresa’s College in Winona, MN. She graduated from St. Theresa’s in 1958 with a double major in History and Latin and a double minor in Biology and Spanish.
After college, Joan taught at several schools in the Dakotas including Belfield, ND, Canistota, SD, and Mitchell, SD. In addition, she traveled extensively in Europe during the summer of 1960.
After she returned from Europe, Joan married Robert Schulz on August 22, 1961 and they started their life together on a farm west of Mitchell, SD. Joan and Robert parted ways in 1982, with Joan moving into Mitchell and Robert remaining on the farm. Even though they were no longer married, Joan and Robert remained very close throughout the remainder of their lives.
Joan and Robert had eight children together, starting with Judy in 1962 and ending with James in 1975. She was devoted to her children through her early life and grandchildren in her later years. In addition to being a busy wife, mother, grandmother and homemaker, she also had several careers over a span of 38 years as a teacher, waitress, and housekeeper until she retired in 1996 at the age of 60.
Some of Joan’s greatest joys included reading and being involved in her children’s and grandchildren’s educational and extra-curricular pursuits. One of her favorite authors was Louis L’Amour and she had an extensive collection of his books, many of which she read several times. Joan spent countless hours attending basketball, football, and additional sporting and educational events to show support for her children and grandchildren.
Joan is survived by her four siblings, Camilla Kotrba of St. Louis, MO, Susan Kotrba of Mitchell, SD, Marcia Lahens of Hartford, CT and Joe Kotrba of Mitchell, SD; eight children, Judy Wahlen of Mitchell, SD, Kate Niehus of Wagner, SD, Theresa Mueller of Mt. Vernon, SD, Phillip Schulz of Madison, SD, Agnes Schulz of Chamberlain, SD, Phyllis Myers of Lennox, SD, Matt Schulz of Mitchell, SD, and James Schulz of Brooklyn Center, MN; and sixteen grandchildren and a number of other relatives. She was preceded in death by her parents, an infant sister, and a granddaughter.