Cover photo for Dorothy Paulsen's Obituary
Dorothy Paulsen Profile Photo
1934 Dorothy 2022

Dorothy Paulsen

June 16, 1934 — February 11, 2022


Dorothy A. Paulsen, 87, of Wausau, WI, lived a rich and full life filled with family, friends, a great sense of humor, and lived each day as a journey of faith, knowing and seeing God’s love through her family and friends.  Dorothy went home to be with her Lord at 1:22 pm on February 11, 2022.

Dorothy was born in Grand Forks, ND on June 16, 1934, the oldest child of Vera (Morlan) and Gordon Preston. She graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks before attending college at Westmar College in LeMars, IA. Dorothy met Russell Paulsen at Westmar and they were married in LeMars on May 30, 1955. They lived in Sheldon, IA, Comfrey and Hibbing, MN, and Eau Claire, WI before moving to Wausau in 1964.  Dorothy taught first and second grades in Sheldon and Comfrey before Laurie was born. Dorothy was blessed to be a stay-at-home Mom with her six children from 1957 through 1978, when she began teaching reading in the Wausau School District until she retired in 2000.  Dorothy earned her B.S. in elementary education from UW-Eau Claire and her reading specialist M.A. from UW- Stevens Point.

Places and dates are only background information into the person Dorothy was and the fulfillment she knew in life!  Her family was her chosen life focus, and Russ and their children and grandchildren were the greatest joy in Dorothy’s life. She expressed thanksgiving for those relationships each day of her life.  Stories about the things her children or grandchildren said and did always seemed to find a way into her conversations!  Laurie, Michael, Pamela, David, Kent, and Kurt were each remarkable special individual blessings to Dorothy and she cherished each memory of her children. Grandchildren Luke, Tara, Claire, Tyler, Caroline, Elli, Sara, Anna, Molly, Gretchen, Stephen, Lydia, and Miles blessed her life in their unique and individual ways.

Dorothy’s friendships were each a special blessing in her life. Communicating with friends was fun for Dorothy and she loved each one of you. Wherever she was, the most important thing for Dorothy was the people around her. Her children joked about their mom making new friends wherever she went!

Each student Dorothy taught was always a special person in her life, and teaching was a fun and rewarding career for Dorothy.

Dorothy and Russ enjoyed cross-country trips with their children as the family traveled from coast to coast.  They enjoyed numerous tours and cruises in Europe and they wintered in Arizona after retirement.

Dorothy had a strong and abiding faith in God and shared that God was her daily “assurance” policy.  She was an active member of Wesley United Methodist Church, where she organized and coordinated the church’s telephone prayer chain for more than 50 years, sang in the choir, directed the Children’s Choir, Christmas programs, Bible School, taught Sunday School, and served on the board and numerous committees. She volunteered in her children’s classrooms and led Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops.  She acted and sang in numerous Wausau Community Theatre musicals.

Dorothy is survived by: daughter Laurie (Gary) Huusko and their children Tara and Tyler (Abby); son Michael (Kristen) and their children Luke and Caroline; daughter Pam (Lynn); son David (Kathy) and their children Claire, Sara, and Molly; son Kent (Emily) and their children Elli, Gretchen and Miles; and son Kurt (Evelyn) and their children Anna, Stephen and Lydia.  She is further survived by her brothers Michael (Ingrid) Preston and Patrick (Patricia) McMahan, by sisters-in-law Jean Stradinger, Marlys (Dick) Tesch, and Delores Paulsen, and numerous nieces and nephews.  She was preceded in death by Russell, her husband of over 60 years, and by her mother Vera McMahan, her father Gordon Preston, her sister Rose Anne Johnson and her brother Dennis Preston and their spouses.

Dorothy’s family would like to thank all of her friends and her Wausau family who brought such wonderful joy and love to her, along with our special thanks for her dear friends and neighbors who provided such great care and companionship these last few years: Jane, Mimi and Sarah, Joe and Jean, Dave and Mary, and so many others. The family also thanks all who provided her great care, with special thanks to Dr. Schaller, the Eye Clinic, and the Aspirus Hospice House nurses and staff. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts in her memory be directed to the Dorothy and Russell Paulsen Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, the Aspirus Hospice House, or a charity of your choice.

A funeral service will be held at Wesley United Methodist Church, 1101 Elm Street, Wausau on Sunday, February 20, 2022 at 3:00 pm with visitation the same day at the church from 1:00 pm until the time of the service.  Arrangements are being handled by Brainard Funeral Home, and a live-stream option for the funeral service can be viewed at Brainard’s website ( Out of respect for the family during COVID, masks will be required at the visitation and funeral service. Burial will be in Pine Grove Cemetery at a later date.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dorothy Paulsen, please visit our flower store.


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