by Tiffany Fesenmaier, Membership Coordinator

There are people in this world that are “do” people, and they “do” with passion, drive and integrity. They also “do” for others without a blink of an eye, and they “do” because they see the need and feel it in their heart. I often wish I could be that kind of person; it’s almost embarrassing to admit that we all want to be seen or recognized at some point in our life.

But not Betty Paskausky.

Betty is the queen “do” person that I have had the privilege to get to know here at Voyager Village. Born in Waukegan, IL she was raised with one brother and spent most of her summers and weekends on her grandmother’s farm. Betty had a love for outdoors at an early age and would tell you herself that she was a tomboy. She later attended college at Northern Illinois and received her Bachelor of Science, and then went on to finish her masters at Stout. Her first job out of college was a Phy. Ed. teacher at the high school level, working there for four years. She then left teaching and bought into the franchise Baskin Robbins and owned three different locations in Illinois. However, the time took a toll on her and she realized after a couple of years that working 365 days a year and all day was not what she wanted. On a weekend get-away with some friends, she went to play golf in Eau Claire, WI and ended up meeting the Superintendent of the Altoona School District. Betty worked in the Altoona School District for 32 years, serving as Special Needs Administrator and School Psychologist, and was active in girls sports and very proud to be.

So, what brought her to Voyager Village? Her friend had a cabin on Long Lake and made the offer that if she maintained it, she could use it whenever she wanted to. She eventually made her way to Birch Island and built the home that she shares with Diane and her two sweet puppies. When Betty learned about Voyager, she was sad to see it had no trails or skiing opportunities. So being the “do” person she is, she started a Ski Club. It was then that Roseanne Berg connected with her, and Betty joined the Trails committee. From there, Betty has worked with a great group of people and have worked diligently and committed to creating and rebuilding eight different trails here at Voyager.

In 2006 she met Steve Johnson, who was the Superintendent of the Golf course at the time, and he began volunteering his time to help her and the rest of the gang on the Trails/Ski Club committees. In the summer of 2011, the storm that ravaged Burnett County saw a tremendous amount of damage done to the trails, including to Betty’s favorite tree on the Golf Course hole #17. Steve tried to do what he could, but the tree’s injuries had been too great. Roots had been ripped up in the cart path, and Steve told Betty it had to come down. Knowing how much the tree meant to Betty, Steve saved some wood from the tree and built her a table for her home. He presented her the gift during the Ski Club’s annual soup kitchen fundraiser and wrote about the moment in his blog post, “Small but Mighty”. You can read it online here:

Today Betty is still involved with the trails and is still just as passionate about them. If you go to the Johnson Trail, you will find homemade walking sticks that she crafted for the trail—just be sure to return them once you are done! You will see her on the golf course or flying by you in the clubhouse on a mission to get to the next project. You will see her amongst giant men, and know it’s her because she’s the tiny one in the middle they are looking down and listening too. You will see her, and when you do there is this smile that will be on her face and almost dares you not to love her. But whatever you do, don’t go on and on about anything that might make her blush—she won’t stand there long and will quickly change the subject.

At the end of each day, she is usually in her rocking chair by 5pm drinking a cold Surley, with her two puppies Murphy and Maxi, dinner, and then off to bed. When I asked her what she would like to be remembered for, she quickly changed the subject.

“No,” she said. “you have to mention these peoples’ names that have been such a big help to me here at Voyager. Without many of them I would have never been able to do all that I have done.”

So­—Betty said to Ed, her neighbor for over 20 years, you have been the constant in her life and have always been there when she needed help. To all the members that have come and gone on the trails committee: Steve Johnson, Betty and Bob, Kermit, Dave Swan, Tom, Steve McDonough, Suzie, Walt, and many more.

So I again asked Betty what she wanted to be remembered for, and I knew this was going to be hard for her to say, but she sat there for a moment and looked up at me and said,

“If people are on the trails, walking, hiking, or cross-country skiing, I hope they will remember me and that they know I had no regrets and can’t say “I wish I would have” about my life.”

And that, my friends, is why she is my favorite “do” person I have ever met!


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