Gardening 07

Barbara Ann (Ertl) Thomas

February 8, 1955 ~ October 29, 2021 (age 66)


Barbara Ann Thomas, 66, of Medford, passed away Friday, October 29, 2021 at the Abbotsford Health Care Center in Abbotsford.  Barb was diagnosed earlier this year with Alzheimers, the disease moved quickly and caused a rapid decline in Barb’s health.  She passed fully at peace, and surrounded by people that loved her to the end of the earth. While it was the most beautiful way to pass, the family is absolutely heartbroken.  Through her, we have learned of the blessing of a quick and peaceful passing, of the grace that God gives to our hearts in that gift.  

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 12 at the Community United Church of Christ in Medford with Pastor Dan Esterline officiating.  A larger celebration of Barb’s life will be held at a later date this spring.

Barb was born February 8, 1955 in Medford to Marilyn (Brunner) and Donald Ertl.  Growing up Barb had a fun loving spirit and quest for adventure and laughter that would carry on to all of her days.  During her school days she gathered a wonderful, lifelong group of friends they affectionately referred to as “The Hens”.  She graduated from Medford High School with the class of 1973. After high school she lived in Minneapolis for a few years before moving back to the Medford area. Even though they went to high school together, it was upon her return that she met and fell in love with Deril while they tended bar together at the Tombstone Corral. 

On May 13, 1978, Barb and Deril married in Medford.  It was there that they built their home and created two successful businesses while raising their children. They often spent time with the kids attending gun shows throughout Wisconsin and making friends all along the way.  They enjoyed many weekends with their friends, Mark and Shannon Marlin at their cabin on the lake in Hayward, WI. The families spent many hours together boating, fishing, soaking up sunshine and making memories with their children. Barb was always ready for fun and found so many ways to bring joy to people.  She was easy to share a laugh with and also had such a compassionate and caring heart.  Once you met her you loved her.  

From early on Barb had an eye for making the world around her more beautiful - whether through lovingly tending to her flower gardens or sewing, she was always adding more vibrant color to life.  When her daughter Jillian was a little girl Barb would sew beautiful, intricate dresses with matching hair bows for her to wear. She helped many family members and friends with choosing paint colors, furniture and decor helping to make their houses into homes.  Her own home was always decorated with such loving care for each season, as she truly enjoyed finding just the right pieces to go together and celebrating each holiday and season.

She was an excellent baker, a skill she passed on to her children and has made many fond memories baking with her granddaughters - she would patiently let them learn to measure every ingredient, taste testing along the way of course.  She was well known by her family and friends for the amazing soups she made and her cookies were the most beautifully decorated and best tasting!  Dinner at her home was always a treat, the table set with fun decor and lots of stories and laughter shared.  There was a long list of favorite and requested dishes from Barb’s kitchen. 

Barb was an “Anytime! Anywhere!” traveler and was always up for seeing someplace new.  She and Deril enjoyed trips with friends and family to places both near and far.  Their trip to France was one of her favorites and she had hoped to return again one day.  Barb, her mother Marilyn, sister Amy and their daughters Jillian and Sara went on girls trips throughout the years. From those trips, they brought back many stories of great food, countless laughs and lasting bonds for the years to come.  Barb and her family also enjoyed spending time at their cabin in Minocqua, going on pontoon rides, watching the beautiful wildlife and spending time with their wonderful friends from the lake.  


While Barb had a long list of amazing talents, one especially notable one was the way she built close relationships with each of her children.  She had a special bond with each of them in their own ways.  Her eldest son Justin was her grand adventure buddy, he often would plan day trips to go to greenhouses, hiking or skiing with Barb.  She loved to tell the stories of the adventures along the way, often with a stop to enjoy a beer and to talk about all the beautiful things they saw together.  She spoke of how she admired her son Ryan’s loving heart, especially in how great of a daddy he is to his girls and how he was always up to some sort of hijinks to make her laugh. Her daughter Jillian shares many of Barb’s same talents and loves - she made Barb so proud in the beautiful artwork she creates and loving care and attention to detail they share.  One of Barb’s greatest joys was watching Jillian with her children.  Her grandchildren will remember and cherish how she read to them.  She was so patient with their little hearts, she never rushed them and always made time for them and gave them her full attention.  

While there were not nearly enough years in Barb’s life, she sure put a lot of life into the years she had.  She is lovingly survived by her husband, Deril of Medford; three children, Justin (Hannah), Ryan (Mindy), all of Medford, Jillian (Dusty) Nitek of Holcombe; her mother, Marilyn Ertl of Minocqua; siblings, Mike (Sue) Ertl of Mercer, Pat (Ann) Ertl of Hazelhurst, Amy (Tim) Koepke of Tomahawk; grandchildren, Naomi and Eleanor Thomas, Whitney, William, and Trent Nitek; and nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her father, Donald Ertl and a stillborn granddaughter, Winona. 

Memorials will be designated at a later date by the family to honor the loving care that Barb received at Abbotsford Health Care Center. 

Hemer-Pickerign Funeral & Cremation Services of Medford and Rib Lake is serving the family. Online condolences can be left at


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Barbara Ann (Ertl) Thomas, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
November 12, 2021

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Community United Church of Christ
510 E. Broadway Ave.
Medford, WI 54451

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