We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Helke Funeral Home and Cremation Service
On Saturday, September 10, 2022, at Azura Memory Care, Wausau, our angel on earth became an angel in heaven. After 14 years, at age 51, Leah Marie Garske WON her journey with Alzheimer’s and is now in the arms of our Lord. Leah built her life around love and saw the good in everyone and brought joy to everyone she knew. We will forever miss Leah’s heart full of love and smile full of sunshine.
Leah was born in Wausau on November 1, 1970, the daughter of Sheila (Behrendt) Garske and William H. Garske, Jr. She was a 1992 graduate of Wausau West High School. She then attended NTC for a year before entering the workforce. She absolutely loved being employed by Eastbay / Footlocker in the receiving department for almost 20 years. She considered her coworkers her extended family.
In her youth, Leah was active in St. Matthew’s Youth Group, Maine 4-H, WCAR, and was State Park Speedway Trophy Princess. While in high school, Leah played snare drum in the special arts marching band and played in the 5th quarter at the Badger Game at Camp Randall and at halftime for a Green Bay Packers versus Chicago Bears game at Lambeau Field.
In 2002, Leah was Special Olympics Female Athlete of the Year for the state of Wisconsin. She enjoyed competing in aquatics, cross country skiing, snowshoe racing, bowling, and track events as well as being an assistant coach. She earned many medals for her efforts. A special thank you to her many volunteer coaches and assistants.
After her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, she became less physically able. Leah joined MTT (My Team Triumph) in 2018. As captain of “Team Leah” she was so grateful to all the volunteer angels for the chance to once again be able to cross the finish line in many races with a big smile.
Leah enjoyed dancing and traveling from 1992 to 2012 with her boyfriend Steven Wendorf. She also loved snowmobile and motorcycle riding with her family, the color pink, and butterflies.
Leah lived on her own in Sturgeon Bluff Apartments for 12 years until her illness. Because of her caring heart, she loved helping her elderly neighbors with household chores and laundry. Riding her three-wheeled bike (pink Harley) around town helped her feel even more proud and independent. Wausau City Bus was her other favorite mode of transportation. She loved getting to know the drivers and hearing about their families. Leah taught many others to ride the city bus to help them be independent also.
Besides her parents, this caring, loving, silly, feisty, fun-loving lady will be missed by her two brothers William H. Garske, III of Tomahawk and Matthew J. Garske (Renee) of Wausau; two nieces Alyssa Garske (fiancé Josh Taft) and Ava Garske; one nephew Kian Garske; two great-nieces Hope and Sophie; the love of her life for 20 years Steven Wendorf; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
She is preceded in death by her foster sister Donna Ash; maternal and paternal grandparents; one uncle; and two cousins.
A visitation will take place Monday, September 19, 2022, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Helke Funeral Home, 302 Spruce Street, Wausau with a Sharing of Memories to begin at 6:00 pm. A Celebration of Leah’s life will be held Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at 12:00 pm at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 229 S. 28th Avenue, Wausau with visitation beginning at 10:30 am until the time of Mass. Burial will follow at Pine Grove Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Team Triumph, or Special Olympics.
Leah was and always will be “The Sunshine of our Lives”
A special THANK YOU to all Leah’s wonderful caregivers over the past 14 years.