Floral 07

Sharon Lee (Pirka) VanPaemel

May 6, 1936 ~ December 20, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old
Obituary Image

Sharon VanPaemel Obituary

Sharon Lee “Sherry” VanPaemel, 87 of Elkhart, IN passed away on Wednesday, December 20th, 2023 at St. Joseph Regional Hospital in Mishawaka, IN with her daughters by her side. Sherry was born on May 6th, 1936 to Ernest C. Pirka and Bertelene ”BEE” (Barnes) Pirka. Sherry graduated from Mishawaka High School, Class of 1954. Her first job was being a carhop at Kewpee Diners in Mishawaka. She also worked at the Ball Band in Mishawaka, Montgomery Ward, Dometic Corporation, The Signature Group, Liberty Mutual and alongside her late husband at Gene Van’s Conservatory of Music. She was a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Elkhart, IN. Sherry enjoyed ALL the “Arts” of the world. She loved listening to beautiful music, going to the Theater to watch a variety of plays.  She was adamant that her favorite was The Phantom of the Opera upon reminiscing. She also loved the times she spent with her friends in the captivating mountains of Tennessee. She was a devoted mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and loyal friend. She was affectionately referred to by other friends and family as “Mama Sherry.” Her heritage was extremely important to her and sharing her culture with family. She especially treasured teaching Hungarian and Italian recipes to her daughters and future generations. Sherry was a real-life “Pink Lady” as in the movie Grease. She belonged to a Jacket Club called “The Debs.” She always looked so LOVELY from her hair to her lipstick. Whether it was shopping for a new purse, the perfect pair of shoes or some  SPARKLY jewelry she was always in fashion. She adored stopping at garage sales, flea markets and antique-malls with her friends. Sherry always taught her daughters to “BE BRAVE!” She had a REBEL spirit at heart. She decided in her 80’s to get a tattoo. She also learned how to shoot a 357 Magnum handgun with her Dear Son-in-Laws by her side. There was no stopping this “text-savvy” Lady. She became quite comfortable with all the new technologies even sending the cutest “memes” to her daughters and grandchildren. Sherry was extremely witty! She also was the Queen of “mixing metaphors” bringing so much laughter to her loved ones with her humor. She was a TRUE WARRIOR winning a long battle with cancer in 2015. One of her greatest affections was her love of animals. She was always rescuing “furry babies” in need and brought them home to be cared for. She will be greatly missed. Sherry is survived by her daughters, Laura V. Scarborough of Elkhart, IN, Lisa( Vincent) DelPrete of Granger, IN, Vanessa( Brian) Jondle of Osceola, IN, and Dana Jeanne( Scott J. Parrish) VanPaemel of Osceola, IN, as well as her “5th daughter” Tracy Lynn Bacon and her dear friend Mary Ann VanPaemel; her grandchildren Gabrielle(Nate) Leeper, Nino DelPrete, Angelo(Alison)DelPrete, Paolo DelPrete, Mateo DelPrete, Jenaro DelPrete, Dominic(Maddie) Oletti, Lucas Oletti, Ben Jondle and Brianna “Annie”(Aaron Hammer) Jondle; her great-grandchildren Blakely, Luca, Booker and two to arrive in 2024. Sherry was preceded in death by her parents Ernest and Bertelene Pirka, the father of her children Eugene J. VanPaemel and her sister Ann Harrell. 

Visitation will be from 9-11 am on Wednesday January 3, 2024 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 1331 North Main Street, Elkhart, IN 46514 where a memorial mass will be at 11am. Father Logan Parrish will officiate. Inurnment will follow at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park in Granger, IN. In lieu of flowers memorial donations in Sherry’s memory may be made to Homeward Bound Animal Welfare Group, 53713 CR 35, Middlebury, IN 46540 www.homewardboundawg.com  Stemm-Lawson-Peterson Funeral Home, 1531 Cobblestone Blvd., Elkhart, IN 46514 is assisting the VanPaemel family. Online condolences may be made to Sherry’s family at

To send flowers to the family, please visit our floral store.

Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know Sharon Lee (Pirka) VanPaemel?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor Sharon's memory.


January 3, 2024

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church
1331 North Main Street
Elkhart, IN 46514

Memorial Mass
January 3, 2024

11:00 AM
St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church
1331 North Main Street
Elkhart, IN 46514

Interment following funeral service
January 3, 2024


Homeward Bound Animal Welfare Group
53713 County Road 35, Middlebury IN 46540
Web: http://www.homewardboundawg.com


© 2024 Stemm-Lawson-Peterson Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility