Stephanie Bell Tompkins, of Austin, Texas and Onalaska, Wis., passed away peacefully at age 74 from complications due to lung cancer at 5:50 p.m. on June 28. She was still up and about the prior evening, but checked into Gundersen Hospital in La Crosse, Wis., at 9:30 a.m. that morning. There were better days and tougher days throughout her journey but her spirits remained good through the end. She even cracked a few jokes with the firefighters who helped her to the hospital.
Stephanie was born in Waukegan, Ill., on Aug. 13, 1944, to parents Francis Marion and Evelyn Berniece "Niecy" (Moon) Culbertson while her father served in the U.S. Navy at the Great Lakes Naval Station. Her father passed away in 1950 and she grew up considering her beloved cousin William Fairfax Schwartz to be her brother. They spent their shared childhood in Greene, Iowa, Washington, D.C., and finally Rochester, where she met her husband of 52 years, Donald William Tompkins, at a high school dance.
She attended the University of Minnesota, graduated from Hamline University in St. Paul, then married Donald in 1967. She had a long, successful teaching career, specializing in working with at-risk youth. Her passionate nature and oftentimes unique perspective served her well in that role. She was blessed with many long lasting friendships in Austin and the Midwest. In recent years, she cherished time spent with a close knit group of avid volunteers at Seton Northwest Hospital in Austin.
Stephanie is survived by her husband, Don; children, Michael and Hilary; and grandchildren, Kevin, Alyssa, Clara, Olivia, and Dakota, through whom her love of card games, jigsaw puzzles, and crosswords lives on.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in her honor to Gundersen Hospice to thank them for the amazing care she received. It is important to designate HOSPICE in either the online "designation" box or in the check memo if by mail. The web address is: https://foundation.gundersenhealth.org/donate-now or, if donating by check, please mail to: Gundersen Medical Foundation (with HOSPICE in the memo line), 1836 South Ave., La Crosse, WI 54601.
Coulee Region Cremation Group is assisting the family.