Jess Gunther

Jess JoAnne Gunther passed away into eternal life on Nov. 2, 2020.

Jess will be remembered for her love of family, art projects, reading, and her never-ending baking of sugar cookies. She also loved her occasional glass of wine with good friends. For over 60 years, she enjoyed great fun with her Kiel card club group.

Jess was born on May 15, 1931 in Manitowoc, the daughter of Joseph and Florence Uhlir. In August 1948, she married Joseph Willinger, eventually moving to Kiel to open the Frock Shop she managed for nearly 20 years. In November 1981, she married John Gunther and resided in Elkhart Lake where she took on an active role with the Elkhart Lake Chamber of Commerce, retiring in 2013. She was a lifelong member of the Kiel VFW.

Jess is survived by her daughters, Kristine Harley of Lake Bluff, Illinois, Connie (Michael) Steinhardt, Dr. Barbara (Thomas) Karls, and Katie Willinger of Kiel; stepdaughter Beth (Mark) Rybakowicz of Whitefish Bay; and son-in-law Michael Allen of Wheaton, Illinois. She is further survived by eight grandchildren, Jessica, Eliza (Dave Curtis), and Chelsea Harley, Lindsey (Nathan) Bortz, Alexia (Eric) Rebne, Lucas Karls (special friend Janelle Hilbelink), Molly (Taylor) Essner and Jake Rybakowicz; along with five great-grandchildren, Brady and Avery Bortz, Gunnar Rebne, and Dylan and Josephine Harley-Curtis. She maintained a close friendship with former family AFS student Marie José Vander Sandt who resides in the Netherlands.

Jess was preceded in death by her husband John; her parents; son-in-law Robert J. Harley; and stepdaughter Amy Allen.

Memorial donations may be made to the Kiel Public Library in her name.

No services are being planned at this time.

Meiselwitz-Vollstedt Funeral Home is assisting the family. For online condolences, please visit

The family would like to extend appreciation to the Sheboygan Memorial Hospital staff for their wonderful care.

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