Verna Mae Antonia Panka

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Verna Mae Antonia Panka, 81, of Prairie du Chien passed away Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, at Prairie Maison in Prairie du Chien following an extended battle with Lewy body dementia. 

She was born Nov. 6, 1940, the daughter of Clarence and Lucille (Welter) Theisen in Monona, IA. Verna married Richard “Dick” Panka on Nov. 26, 1960, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Monona, IA. Verna and Dick raised their family in Prairie du Chien. Verna worked part-time and later full-time for Bickel Insurance Security Loan Co. in McGregor, Iowa, where she was a secretary and bookkeeper for 57 years until her retirement. Verna and Dick were lifelong members of St. John’s Church of the Holy Family Parish. Verna had a strong faith and a deep love for Christ. She spent countless hours volunteering and serving in various parish ministries, and she also led the local United Way in various roles for more than 25 years. Verna was a loving wife and mother and her family meant everything to her. She made every birthday and event memorable for her husband, children, and grandchildren. Verna enjoyed traveling with her husband, and they shared many memorable trips abroad and to numerous children’s and grandchildren’s milestones. She loved dancing with her husband, family meals together, shopping with her sisters, and attending card club and coffee with her friends. Verna had a beautiful smile and a positive outlook on life that warmed the hearts of all who knew her. She will be greatly missed, yet a part of her will surely live on in those who loved her. 

She is survived by her husband of nearly 62 years, Richard Panka of Prairie du Chien, six children and their spouses Jeff and Christine (DeHahn) Panka of Prairie du Chien, Greg and Bonnie (Vyvyan) Panka of Racine, David and Debra (Barness) Panka of Prairie du Chien, Paul and Candice (Hinke) Panka of New Prague, MN, Kristin and Brian Girard of Peoria Heights, IL, Kathie and Scott Campbell of Whitefish Bay; 23 grandchildren, Nicholas (Amie) Johansen, Michael, Brandon, Jacob (Haley), Nathan (Liz) Johansen, Justine (Ryan) Heslip, Nathan (Katie), Joshua, Bria (Troy) Wemmert, Kaitlin, Cassandra (Nick) Bradac, Nicole, Justin, Joseph, Andrew, Ethan, Owen, Isabelle, Celine, Claire, Olivia, Brendan, and Elliot; and 13 great-grandchildren; brother Virgil (Marlene) Theisen, sisters Shirley (Duane) Bushman and Diane (Brian) Colby. 

Verna was preceded in death by her parents and brother Randy Theisen.

A Mass of Christian Burial was be Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, at 2 p.m. at St John’s Church of the Holy Family Parish, Msgr. Charles Stoetzel officiating with burial at Calvery Cemetery, both in Prairie du Chien. Friends called at the church on Monday from 12 noon until the time of the Mass. A Celebration of Life followed the services from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Prairie du Chien Country Club. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be designated in memory of Verna Panka to Lewy Body Dementia Research at Mayo Clinic. 

Check Donation; Checks can be mailed directly to Mayo Clinic, Department of Development, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905. In the memo line of the check or in a separate note, please indicate that the gift is in memory of Verna Panka for Lewy Body Dementia Research. 

Online Donation; You may also make a gift online by visiting Under "Designate my gift to" please select "Other" and type Lewy Body Dementia Research. Please select "Make this donation a tribute" and indicate the gift is in memory of Verna Panka. 

Phone Donation; Please call 507-284-8540 to talk with one of our Gift Processing Associates who can take your donation securely over the telephone. 

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