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Obituaries
Robert A. Bergevin

Robert A. Bergevin, 76, of Chippewa Falls died Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

Bob was born Dec. 12, 1941, in Chippewa Falls, the son of Wilfred and Marion (Attlesey) Bergevin.

Bob graduated from Chippewa Falls Senior High School in 1960 and served in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1962. He then attended vocational school in Eau Claire and graduated with an Associates Degree in HVAC. His career went onto sales, from microfilm to office supply sales. He was co-owner of Variety Office Products. He continued to work in the office supply sales for many years after Variety. His many customers brought him great friendships and enjoyment.

Bob was a member of the American Legion Post #53 in Eau Claire and the Westfork Hunting and Fishing Club.

Bob is survived by his significant other, Karen Mueller of Chippewa Falls and her daughter, Maria; one son, Anthony Bergevin of Reno, Nev.; two daughters, Maria (Miles Patrow) Bergevin and Christine (David) Longville both of Eau Claire; one sister, Jean Mayer of Chippewa Falls; five grandchildren, Peter, Sam, Frances, Jack and Graham; special friend, Brian Peterson; and many other relatives and friends.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents; one sister, Geraldine McCaghy; and two brothers-in-law, Paul Mayer and Gerald McCaghy.

Bob enjoyed spending time with Karen and friends. He spent many weekends hunting, fishing and playing cards with co-members of their cabin in Clam Lake.

Bob was a kind and empathetic friend. His great sense of humor and very quick wit will be missed.

Friends may call from 10 a.m. until noon Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the Horan Funeral Home with graveside services in Hope Cemetery both in Chippewa Falls.

A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the American Legion on Water St. in Eau Claire.

Bob’s family requests memorials to Riverfront Park or Irvine Park.

Family and friends may express condolences online at www.horanfuneralhome.com.


Obituaries
Mabel C. Spaeth

Mabel C. Spaeth, 94, of Chippewa Falls, town of Eagle Point, died Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Notre Dame Church in Chippewa Falls. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery in Chippewa Falls. Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16, and 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Horan Funeral Home in Chippewa Falls.


Suit filed over Minnesota lieutenant governor's dual roles

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota resident sued Friday to force the state’s new lieutenant governor out of the state Senate seat she aims to keep, arguing that it’s unconstitutional for longtime Republican lawmaker Michelle Fischbach to hold two offices.

Fischback was elevated to the role of lieutenant governor as part of a chain reaction after Al Franken resigned from the U.S. Senate amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton appointed his second-in-command, Tina Smith, to Franken’s seat; as president of the state Senate, Fischbach then automatically assumed Smith’s old job. But with Republicans guarding a narrow majority in the state Senate, Fischbach made clear she did not want the lieutenant governor job and said she would keep her central Minnesota Senate seat. Democrats balked and promised to sue.

Destiny Dusosky, a constituent in Fischbach’s heavily Republican Senate district who chaired the local Democratic Party chapter last year, filed suit in Ramsey County District Court.

The lawsuit says the state constitution makes clear that someone can’t hold two offices simultaneously and asks the court to force Fischbach from the Senate seat. It argues that Dusosky “will be deprived of representation in the Minnesota Senate due to now-lieutenant governor Fischbach’s attempt to continue to hold the office of state Senate.”

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka called the lawsuit “disappointing, but not surprising.”

“This disappointing lawsuit is simply political maneuvering by Democrats to try to change the outcome of the 2016 election,” Gazelka said in a statement.

Fischbach officially ascended to become lieutenant governor Jan. 3, when Smith was sworn in as a U.S. senator. But Fischbach has not scheduled an oath of office for the new job.


top story
La Crosse County flirts with flu but avoids outbreak — so far

This might be a good time to build a wall on Wisconsin’s southern border — and make Illinois pay for it. Flu-like illnesses sweeping the country have hit the Land of Lincoln harder than the Badger State, so far — and a wall might keep the virus at bay, right?

Not necessarily. And, even though La Crosse County is faring better than it did last flu season, things could change in the blink of an eye, the shake of a hand or the spray of an uncovered sneeze, said Jo Foellmi, a public health nurse with the La Crosse County Health Department.

It wouldn’t be a joking matter if flu and related respiratory illnesses latched on harder.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it started creeping up, but I would be happy if it didn’t,” Foellmi said during an interview Wednesday.

Nearly 30 deaths in California

The flu is slamming California harder than any other state, with nearly 30 deaths among people there who are younger than 65, but influenza-related cases have set off alarms in 46 states, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Included in that tally are Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, and the exceptions are Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Maine, according to CDC figures.

Minnesota cases are deemed below the baseline to sound an alarm, Wisconsin’s are described as moderate levels and Illinois, widespread. Actually, cases in the Gopher state are concentrated in metro areas — the Twin Cities in particular — but less pervasive in the Southeast, including Winona and Houston counties, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

“Locally, we are right about where we were last year,” including some hospitalizations that are typical during any flu season, Foellmi said.

Usually, La Crosse County logs about 20 flu-related hospitalizations a season, but “this year, we are up quite a bit,” Foellmi said. “I’m almost expecting 35 to 40.”

50 million died worldwide in 1918

Noting that, technically, the season has just begun, Foellmi hesitatingly mentioned the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish flu, which a CDC study labeled the “Mother of All Pandemics.”

Influenza killed up to 50 million people around the world that year — more than three times the number of people who were killed in World War I, according to the CDC. It afflicted more than 25 percent of the U.S. population and killed 675,000 Americans — sometimes drowning them in their own phlegm within three days.

This season, it appears that increasing numbers of people are going to their doctors and testing positive, so it also could be that more folks are experiencing fevers and respiratory problems, she said.

The flu virus runs in cycles from year to year, depending on its virulence, vaccine effectiveness and the numbers of people who get their shots, she said.

“In 2015, it was awesome — we had only nine hospitalizations,” she said. “Last year, we were hit hard, with 86 flu-related hospitalizations, but that includes the first few months of the 2016-17 season.”

It’s not as if area residents are being diligent about rolling up their sleeves, according to research that county public health nurse Bryany Weigel completed in a run-through of the Wisconsin Immunization Registry.

Just 31 percent of county residents between the ages of 6 months and 100 years were up to date on their influenza immunizations as of Wednesday, Weigel said.

“This number depends on if all the area organizations that give flu shots have entered their data into the WIR system yet,” she said. “If they have, then it is 31 percent. If they haven’t, then this 31 percent is probably lower than the actual percentage.”

The county health department has used about 75 percent of the vaccines it had allotted for the season, and the department has entered all of its data in the registry, she said.

Some people may be balking. Mutations zapped the effectiveness of last season’s vaccine, which some people use as an excuse for skipping, along with claiming they don’t worry because they’ve never gotten the flu, Foellmi said.

Flu viruses have a knack for mutating quickly because “they have some awesome genes — in a bad way,” she said.

High hopes for the effectiveness of this season’s vaccine were deflated when its performance lagged, but not as badly as last year’s.

“On vaccinations, my take is whether the vaccine is poor or not, 35 percent or even 10 percent protection can prevent hospitalization, needing help breathing and an IV,” Foellmi said.

She also cited a community service aspect to getting a vaccine, because older people and people who are taking immunotherapy drugs or undergoing chemotherapy can be especially vulnerable.

“For immunities that are compromised, we always think that these people are just in hospitals, but they are in stores,” schools, libraries and other public places, she said.

Duty to protect neighbors

Vaccinations “are not just for us, so we don’t get the flu, but for the community,” she said. “It’s to protect our neighbors.”

People who feel ill or have a runny nose should stay home, she said, adding, “We don’t want to be around you.”

Her husband, Terry, is a prime example of a former scofflaw she had to rehabilitate, Foellmi said with a somewhat victorious laugh.

“He never missed a day of work” but contracted the flu last year, she said, adding, “I could tell from 50 feet away, he was so sick and looked so bad.”

Of course, the fact that he had gotten the shot for one of the few times he had done so morphed him into an I-told-you-so flubird, she said.

“I told him, ‘No, you’d be worse, and you could be in the hospital,’” if he hadn’t gotten the shot, she said.

“Now, he is a firm believer,” even admonishing co-workers who are sick to go home, she said. “He is a fiend. When someone at work is sick, he tells them they shouldn’t be there.”

Foellmi hesitated to diagnose California from afar, speculating that people “are guessing, ‘This is sunny California, and who gets the flu,’ and the density of population” as another factor.

“There’s something to be said for living in a smaller community,” she said

Foellmi cited the need for speed in disinfecting a home if someone contracts an illness.

“When my husband got it, I sprayed everything — tables, doorknobs — he might have touched and used Lysol wipes on everything so none of the rest of us got it,” she said.

“And when he tried to come downstairs, I told him to get back up there,” she said, chuckling.


Obituaries
Merl R. Morrow

Merl R. Morrow, 70, while surrounded by family, lost a battle but won the war Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.

Merl was born Jan. 26, 1947, to Roy and Sylvia (Herrick) in Jump River, Wis. Upon graduation from Chippewa Falls High School, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. After the service he worked for many years in cable and telephone construction. He then became an over the road truck driver and retired in 2011.

He married Julie (Sneen) Meyer in 1977. They became licensed foster parents for a time and cared for infants and toddlers who were in the adoption process. He was a true baby whisperer and loved taking long naps with little ones in his arms. He was also a history buff and had a wealth of knowledge about World War I and World War II. Since retirement his main source of enjoyment was spending time with grandkids, baking, and experimenting with new recipes. His many friends were happy recipients of his baked goods.

Merl is survived by his wife, Julie; son, Werner (May) Skyba of Seoul, South Korea; daughter, Samantha (Jeff) Thomas of Deforest, Wis.; son, Chad Lissick of St. Croix Falls, Wis.; daughter, Emily (Brent) Dachel of Bloomer; his sister, Michele Morrow; and sister-in-law, Nancy Morrow. He is also survived by granddaughters, Nori, Julianne, Bethany, Kaitlynn, Alyssa, Sarah, and Grace; and grandsons, Reeden, Reece and Jonathon. He also has two great-grandchildren, Tiffany and Tucker; as well as nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his parents; and brother, Larry Morrow.

The family wishes to acknowledge the excellent care provided by Dr. Mohamed Muslim and the hospital staff at Sacred Heart Hospital. We’ll always remember your kindness.

A memorial service will take place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at Jacob’s Well in Lake Hallie, with a lunch to follow. Visitation will be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Internment will take place at a later date.

The family is being served by Chippewa Valley Cremation Services of Altoona, Wis. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Veteran’s Housing Recovery Program (VHRP) at 2820 E. Park Ave., Chippewa Falls, Wis., 54729.


Obituaries
Ellen H. Devine

Ellen H. Devine, 91, of Chippewa Falls died Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, at Chippewa Manor. Services will be held in the spring. An obituary will run closer to the date of service. Pederson-Volker Funeral Chapel & Cremation Services, Chippewa Falls is serving the family.


Foellmi