Betty Ann (Sawyer) Lutzka passed away peacefully on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at Care Partners Assisted Living Center in Spooner, Wisconsin, after a long journey with Alzheimer’s. She was born on July 5, 1934 in Port Huron, Michigan and was the only child of Russell and Theodosia Sawyer.
Betty attended Michigan State on an academic scholarship, where she met her former husband, Claude Lutzka, who attended Michigan State on a hockey scholarship. They married in the spring of her junior year and moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where they raised their six children.
In the early 80’s, she moved to the Northwoods of Wisconsin with her companion, Louie Gerzic. After a few years, they opened a tavern in Three Lakes called LBJ’s, which served hamburgers, pizzas and had a Friday Night Fish Fry along with your usual tavern libations. The tavern was surrounded by many lakes and was located on a snowmobile trail through the Nicolet Forest. They spent summers and winters serving the steady influx of visitors to the area. Patrons loved to come and watch football at LBJ’s because Louie was an ardent Vikings fan and Betty was an ardent Packers fan; smack talking was always on the menu!
In retirement, Betty became interested in art, and took classes in Norwegian Rosemaling and later, classes in watercolors. Betty took her painting to the next level, becoming a member of the Wisconsin Regional Artists Association (WRAA). She also belonged to the Headwater’s Art League, Northern Wisconsin Decorative Painters, Lakeland Art League and Manito Art League. She is credited with many awards for her paintings.
Betty and Louie started another business, “Backwoods Arts”, where Louie made chests, stools, bird houses and other wood items, and Betty painted Rosemaling, wildlife and other nature scenes on them. Betty would paint on just about anything. They sold these items at flea markets around Wisconsin and Minnesota for many years.
Betty took great interest and made it a priority to be present in the lives of her kids and their families. She attended hockey games, recitals, concerts and was the first one to jump in a car for a visit. Betty was very passionate about living; she enjoyed challenges, meeting new people and learning new things. Along with being a great painter, she was an excellent pool player and bowler. She had an infectious laugh, which she shared often. Betty loved sterling silver and turquoise jewelry and had rings on all her fingers for most of her life; they were her “signature look”.
After Betty’s dad died, her mother, Theodosia came from Michigan to live with her. That gave all of us children and grandchildren the ability to share so much more of our lives with grandma, what a special gift this was from our mother.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, Russell and Theodosia Sawyer; son, John Lutzka; grandson, Micah Askew; and father of her children, Claude Lutzka.
Betty is survived by her long-time companion, Louie Gerzic; children, Beverly (Jeff) Kile, Denise (Steve) Hanson, Deborah (Lannie ) Askew, David Lutzka, Sandy (Greg) Sauve; daughter-in-law, Kathy Lutzka; 11 grandchildren, Ashley (Josh) Williams, Brooke (Jake Haley) Kile, Nathan (Stpehanie) Lutzka, Ryan (Shelley) Lutzka, Janna (Ian) Ebeling, Jonathan (Allyson) Askew, Joseph Askew, Bryton Lutzka, Cira Lutzka, Chelsea (Eric) Schmidt, and Kayla Sauve; six great grandchildren, Madison, Sawyer, & Teddy Lutzka, Jack Lutzka, and Logan & Lola Ebeling; nieces and nephews, Rhonda Lamprecht, Steve (Cathy) Lutzka, Jeff (Lori) Lutzka, and Polly (Ron Hoffman) Lutzka; as well as many friends.
Thank you to the staff at Care Partners Assisted Living Center, Spooner, and St. Croix Hospice for your compassionate home health care to our mother during the last years of her life.
Due to Covid-19, we will have a private funeral this spring. Interment will be in Port Huron, Michigan. Arrangements will be made by Sunrise Memorial Park, Duluth. Memorials can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter.
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