Emily Podrug was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 14, 1949. She was born with Down Syndrome which meant that she was developmentally disabled. Her birth parents placed her in Southern Colony in Union Grove, Wisconsin when she left the hospital as a baby. Emily remained in Southern Colony until she was 25.
In the fall of 1974, Emily joined seven other developmentally disabled adults at a group home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which was managed by Darrick and Barbara Kolterjahn. Emily and the others attended a workshop in Milwaukee. In 1975, Darrick and Barb requested and were granted legal guardianship of Emily. While living at the group home, Emily was baptized by Darrick through which she was given the gift of faith in Jesus.
In July of 1975, Darrick, Barb, and Emily went to Naper, Nebraska for Darrick’s first call to serve a church. At St. Paul Lutheran Church, Emily attended church regularly and a young level Sunday school class. In Naper, a retired teacher worked with Emily and taught her to print her name as well as many other things.
In March of 1985, Darrick, Barb, Emily, and four other children moved to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Emily again attended a sheltered workshop in Hollidaysburg. At Our Savior Lutheran Church, Emily attended church with the family as well as a young level Sunday school class.
In November of 1994, the family with a total of seven children and Emily moved to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Emily attended church with the family at St. Peter Lutheran Church. Emily worked at Sunshine House for about 20 years and was employee of the year in 2000.
Emily enjoyed listening to music, dancing, playing games, and eating. She loved rocking babies, especially her brothers and sisters. She rocked all seven of them. They loved Emily; and as they grew, they loved to tease her. To all of her family, Emily did not have a disability but was a special blessing from God. She was usually a fun-loving girl.
In 2015, Emily was hospitalized at Door County Medical Center. She was not able to walk because of dementia. Emily entered Door County Medical Center Skilled Nursing Facility on January 26, 2015. Emily’s health continued to decline because of the complications of dementia. Emily became a total care resident and did not speak or recognize anyone. Emily endured dementia for about the last six years of her life.
Emily Podrug was called to her eternal joy in heaven by her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at Door County Medical Center Skilled Nursing Facility on Friday, July 23, 2021, around 9:00 p.m. The Lord freed Emily from the disabilities that constrained her with Down Syndrome for all of her life and the dementia that plagued her life for about the last six years. The Lord blessed her with a time of grace on this earth of 72 years, two months, and nine days. She was a special gift from God for her legal guardian parents and her brothers and sisters.
She leaves to mourn her departure: her legal guardian parents, Darrick and Barb Kolterjahn of Green Bay, Wisconsin; five brothers, Benjamin Kolterjahn and his wife Stacey of The Woodlands, Texas, Nathaniel Kolterjahn and his wife Sophie of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Jonah Kolterjahn and his wife Rachel of Dousman, Wisconsin, Aaron Kolterjahn and his wife Chelsea of Fredericksburg, Texas, and Isaac Kolterjahn and his wife Allie of Sturgeon Bay; two sisters, Katherine Szerkins and her husband Keith of Green Bay, and Mary Picone and her husband Joe of Lutz (Tampa), Florida; aunt Paula Hathaway and her husband John of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; and nine nieces, seven nephews, cousins, other relatives, and friends.
Funeral services will be 11:00 am Saturday, July 31, 2021, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Sturgeon Bay, burial will be in Peace Lutheran Cemetery in Oshkosh. Friends may call at the church on Saturday from 10:00 am until the time of service. Memorials may be directed to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church or the Sunshine House in her name. Forbes Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
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