Judith Popko Graf passed away October 4, 2019, surrounded by family after a nearly three-year journey with cancer. She was 79. Judy was born January 10, 1940, in Arcadia, WI, to Stanley and Isabel (Joos) Popko. When she was young, the Popkos moved to Cameron, WI, where Judy made the community her own until her death. The oldest daughter, Judy began mothering at a young age as her own mother was frequently hospitalized and there were many young children at home. This role proved to be her vocation. Judy attended Stout State College where she met her partner for life, John Graf, at the Newman Center. John and Judy married October 26, 1963. John and Judy eventually settled in Cameron where they raised six children. Judy was a relentless advocate for community throughout her life, volunteering in a variety of roles including as a 4H leader, catechist, and with St. Peter’s Altar Society. Her devotion to parish and faith life was recognized in 2003 when the Diocese of Superior honored her with the Pax Christi Award. Her passion for education was satiated through her involvement with Friends of the Library and the Cameron Area Scholarship Foundation. After her youngest child entered school, she returned to UW-Stout for a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and worked as a homebound instructor for the Cameron School District. Judy loved to play and never hesitated to bowl or play golf, games, or cards. Before computers, she played solitaire, sudoku, and Scrabble. Technology introduced her to Words With Friends, and she never turned back. An expert baker, she crafted pies for every church dinner and created a “cookie buffet” every Christmas. Hungarian butterhorns are her signature cookie. She loved to read and gave frequent book talks to her grandchildren. Even in her final moments, Judy kept her hands busy crocheting, and she blessed many with handcrafted afghan treasures. Always one who wanted to connect, she was frequently the last one to leave church as she visited with many (and while her children waited impatiently in the car).
Judy is survived and dearly missed by John, her husband of nearly 56 years; children Cathy Graf of Maple Grove, MN, Mary Beth (Kirk) Howatt of Argusville, ND, David Graf of Cameron, Carol (Jason) Hoopman of Anoka, MN, Barbara (Nathan) Hartzell of Vail, AZ, Jennifer (Kenny) Mitchell of Port Washington, WI; and grandchildren Alexandra, Zachary, and Kylie Howatt, Isabelle Hoopman, Lauren and Claire Hartzell, Max, Brooke, and Samantha Mitchell; and siblings Bill Popko of Claremont, CA, Sally (Andy) Gonko of Delano, MN, Mike (Irene) Popko of Rice Lake, WI, Stan Popko of Chippewa Falls, WI, and Keith Popko of Cameron, WI. She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings John, Sue, and Rick.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 9 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Cameron with Father Balaraju Polisetty officiating and interment following in the Northern WI Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery at Spooner. Visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at the Rausch-Lundeen Funeral Home in Cameron where there will be a prayer service held at 7:00 p.m., and also for the hour prior to services at the church on Wednesday. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorials to the Cameron Area Scholarship Foundation, Friends of the Library, or Hospice of Marshfield Clinic. Arrangements are with Rausch-Lundeen Funeral Homes, Cameron & Dallas.