Michelle Renee De Cora

Michelle Renee De Cora 2

Michelle Renee De Cora, a breast cancer survivor and  longtime resident of La Crosse, passed May 5th 2021 due to COVID related complications at the age of 61.

Michelle was born in Baraboo Wisconsin on December 10th, 1959 to Blanche Blackcoon and Kenneth De Cora Sr. She grew up in Fairchild, Wisconsin and later moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin after graduating high school in 1978. She worked briefly for her uncle in Hollywood, Florida selling hand crafted jewelry on the beach. Upon returning to Wisconsin, she gave birth to her daughter Amanda. She would reside in Eau Claire until 1983 when she relocated to Black River Falls, Wisconsin. While in Black River Falls, she gave birth to her son, Shane, and she enjoyed working as a teacher at the Sand Pillow Head Start. Her former students would still greet her with hugs whenever they saw her.

Michelle then relocated to her adopted “forever” hometown of La Crosse in 1987. She then began her journey into higher education by starting at Western Wisconsin Technical College in an early childhood development program due in part to her passion of working with children. She transferred the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where she would eventually major and graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business. While attending college, and after graduating, she worked for the Office of Minority Affairs and sat on several committees. Her work at the University led to an interest in Higher Education and she completed her course work for her Master’s Degree in student affairs. She then focused on being of service to the Ho-Chunk Nation and began her long road of employment in various positions ranging from Executive Director of Personnel, to youth center coordinator. Her most recent role within the tribal government was as the Contract Administrator for the Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Justice.

Michelle was an avid Packer fan, and never stopped being a diehard supporter of Brett Favre. She loved to take road trips, fish, visit a lot of her extended family all over the country, spend time with her grandkids, shake dice and play card games, read and watch horror books and movies (She was a huge fan of Stephen King), go to casinos  and plan her next craft project.

Michelle is survived by her children; Amanda Rose De Cora (Andrew Learn) and Shane (Siobhann) Davis Steindorf, her grandchildren; Mira ‘Vic’ Heintz, Lily Rose Davis, and Owen Robert Lafky-Allen, her best friends; Kimberly ‘Huspin’ Grensing and Juanita Thompson, her brothers; Jason Blackcoon, Jeff Smith, Kenneth De Cora Jr., Frank De Cora, Howard De Cora, her sisters: Kimberly Waukau, Kimberly Cloud, and Lyra Blackcoon, and countless close Ho-Chunk kin and numerous friends.

Michelle was amazingly stubborn and often blunt, but usually for the good of the person she was dealing with. She was the founding member and president of the infamous “Mean Girls Club.” She left a huge vacuum in the ranks of the club, and a power struggle is sure to ensue. She was outspoken in her participation in tribal politics to the point that she was convinced, on multiple occasions, that there was an actual blacklist and she was on it. Michelle had the most raucous sense of humor and was often seen throwing her head back in a good old- fashioned native woman laugh. She loved reminiscing with family about the relatives that had already journeyed home to be with the creator whom she longed to see again.

When it came to family, Michelle didn’t require a blood tie. She often created family wherever she went. Whether it was a hair dresser who she clicked with, or a bartender at her favorite watering hole she had friends that were as close as family. Many of her sons’ best friends called her mom, and she considered them her own children. If you knew Michelle and didn’t know any of this about her, she probably didn’t like you.

A graveside service will be held at Trempealeau Cemetery at noon Saturday, May 8. There will be a celebration of life at the residence of Amanda De Cora following. We are strongly encouraging social distancing and that any who attend to wear masks (we will supply masks as well). Those attending the celebration afterwards are asked to bring lawn chairs. Those who enjoy adult beverages are encouraged to bring the fixings for Michelle’s favorite refreshments, and anyone who imbibes is welcome to bring a tent and stay the night.