Madison/Sun Prairie- Ruby "Penny" Rodes DeMott, age 91, passed away peacefully with her son by her side at Agrace Hospice on Saturday, January 7, 2023. Penny was born on January 5, 1932 at her grandparents’ home in the Town of York in Dane County, Wisconsin, to the late George and Clara (Klug) Ziemer.
She grew up in Watertown on the family homestead farm and graduated from Watertown High School in 1949. Penny then went on to the Columbia School of Nursing in Milwaukee, graduating in 1952 as a registered nurse. She later continued her nursing studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison. After spending the summer of 1953 working in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, she returned to Wisconsin and was among the young medical staff who helped open the new Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital in 1954. She became Head Surgical Nurse and Director of Nursing working there until 1964.
She met Tom Rodes when he came into the ER with a broken finger. They were married on February 1, 1958, in Watertown. Tom and Penny went on some adventures before having children, including car camping all the way up to Alaska and all the way down to the Florida Keys. After having two children, Lenora and Richard, they briefly moved to Madison before settling in Sun Prairie where Penny lived for over fifty years. When her kids had both started school, Penny resumed her career and began working for the Allergy and Immunology department at what ultimately became Physicians Plus. She worked at the Sun Prairie Clinic, East Madison Clinic, and One South Park building in Madison for 21 years, retiring in January 1997.
After becoming a widow, she met Bob DeMott in the church choir and on May 10, 1997, they were married. Bob and Penny enjoyed years of adventures traveling throughout the United States, Europe, Mexico, Central America, New Zealand, and Australia. They returned numerous times to her favorite place, Hawaii. Bob and Penny were kindred spirits and so lucky to find each other later in life. After Bob’s death in 2009, Penny continued to travel the world either solo or with her son.
Penny was active throughout her lifetime in Sun Prairie. She helped found the Sun Prairie Co-Op Nursery School at the United Methodist Church; she worked on the Northside Elementary School STP; she was a Girl Scout leader; and she volunteered at the Sun Prairie Public Library, Colonial Club, Sun Prairie Piranha Swim Team, youth hockey, and Band Boosters/Sound of Sun Prairie. She served as a volunteer and nurse for the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps. Penny was also a longtime member of the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church choir and an avid bridge player who enjoyed music, musical theater, traveling, reading. and genealogy. Penny touched so many lives through her career, volunteer work, and the caring way she lived her life. She will be deeply missed.
Penny is survived by her son Richard Rodes, her sister Lois Lance, her brother Harvey Ziemer (Jean), niece Donna (Rodes) (Frank) Goodale, great nephew Nathaniel Keahi Rodes (Krista) Goodale, nephew Noel (Michelle) Rodes, niece Joy (Lance) (Scott) Havrisik, nephew Todd Lance, nephew Brad (Denise) Ziemer, nephew Paul Ziemer, and niece Stephanie (Ziemer) Dawson, and her four stepchildren, Diane (DeMott) (David) Painter, Robert (Susan) DeMott, Denise (DeMott) (John) Edmunds, and Roy (Meg) DeMott. She is also survived by her ten step grandchildren Elizabeth Painter, Katherine Painter, Jennifer (DeMott) (Quame) Buah, Sarah (DeMott) (Tim) Gullenbeck, David (Kim) DeMott, Jacqueline (Edmunds) (Jamie) Sandberg, Kyle Edmunds, Patricia Edmunds, Quinn (DeMott) (Alan) Hauser and Bridget (DeMott) (Max) Handler; and, six step great grandchildren Gabriela Avila, Abriana Valadares, Damian and Bryce Buah, Sophia Mae DeMott, and Colleen Hauser. Penny was preceded in death by her first husband Thomas H. Rodes, her daughter Lenora Rodes, and her second husband Robert W. DeMott.
A memorial service and celebration of life will be held on Thursday, January 19th at the Tree of Life Chapel, Oakwood Village Prairie Ridge 5565 Tancho Drive, Madison, visitation 2-3 PM, service 3 PM with fellowship/reception to follow.
The family wishes that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to Agrace Hospice ( www.agrace.org ), the American Heart Association ( www.heart.org ), the Alzheimer’s Associate ( www.alz.org ), or the Arthritis Foundation ( www.arthritis.org ).
Special thanks to Penny’s friends and neighbors, and to the staff and volunteers of Agrace, both the home care staff who worked with Penny the past few months, and the Inpatient Unit staff who treated her with such care, love, and kindness during the last week.
Please share your memories of Penny by posting on her Tribute Wall.
Cress Funeral Service
1310 Emerald Terrace, Sun Prairie