Garnet J. Lillegard D'Amato HortonJanuary 25, 1929 ~ September 19, 2017 (age 88)
Garnet (“just like the birthstone”, as she’d always say) Joan Lillegard D’Amato Horton, 88, died September 19th peacefully in Middleton, WI with adoring family members close. Garnet was born January 25, 1929 to Norwegian parents who spent the Depression years moving between Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa as her father could find work. She graduated from Pelican Rapids High School as the class valedictorian, but always said her dear friend Bob “was smarter and should have had the honor”. Garnet described herself as “ordinary” but she was remarkable in ways she never could acknowledge. Her quick wit and selfless, compassionate personality endeared her to everyone who knew her. Garnet married Michael Angelo D’Amato, Jr in 1951 while he was stationed in Fort Worth, TX. He would a few years later surprise her by buying a fixer-upper house for them next door to his mother, and the graceful acceptance she demonstrated with that decision speaks for itself. She is survived by her daughter Jennifer (D’Amato, Collins) Cullen who lives just outside Madison, WI with husband Randall Cullen, grandchildren Ben Collins, Lindsay Cullen Smith (husband Tyler, son Jackson), Chelsie Collins, Sarah Collins, and Jack Cullen. Garnet was preceded in death by her younger daughter Laurie (“Poke” D’Amato, Collins) who died in her sleep at age 39 from radiation damage to her heart secondary to treatment for cancer during her childhood. Also preceding her in death was her grandson (Laurie’s son) Michael who died tragically in 2012, survived by sister Chelsie and all of us who loved him dearly. Garnet lost her parents (Faye and Oscar Lillegard) and siblings (Keith and Beverly) at early ages as well, but she never allowed the immense loss she’d experienced to dampen her energy for life. She met Harry Horton in Grief Group in 1999, and they enjoyed 12 years of laughter, travel and marriage prior to his death in 2013. She would humorously boast about her great taste and fortune in choosing husbands. Garnet is survived by life-long friends, her beloved nieces and nephews (including extended Lillegard, D’Amato, and Vrakas families), and Harry’s children Mack, Diana and Hope. A celebration of Garnet’s life, which she described as blessed, will be held on November 11th at noon in the Johnson Dining Room at Agrace Hospice Care, 5395 E Cheryl Pkwy, Fitchburg, WI 53711. In lieu of flowers, please share your memories about her, and keep her stories alive so she will always be with us.