BARABOO – Polly (nee Smith, formerly Fenske) Bednar passed away at age 78 at Artisan Assisted Living in Baraboo, Wis., on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Polly was born in Chicago, Ill., on March 7, 1942, to Robert Burns Smith and Dorothy Rose (Holmes) Smith. When she was 10 years old, the family moved to a 40-acre parcel just north of Wisconsin Dells and there Polly's love of animals, and especially horses, was born.
Most of her life revolved around that passion, as well as her love of the outdoors. Polly and her sister, Sue, became excellent horsewomen, participating in many horse shows and parades. Polly even started a riding stable on the family property while still in high school. They eventually expanded their horse business to focus on raising registered Arabians. Seeing Polly and Sue on their Arabian stallions decked out in authentic costumes was a sight to behold. Polly had a talent for training horses to do pretty much anything she desired and developed a bond with each and every one of them.
Life eventually took Polly to Leland, Wis., where she farmed for many years, working tirelessly in the fields and caring for the livestock and a menagerie of other animals. And, of course, she continued to raise and train both riding and draft horses.
Her adventurous nature led to many trips throughout the United States to explore the great outdoors. She loved camping, hiking, canoeing, spelunking, and anything that gave her the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the world. At an age when many start to slow their pace, she joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Ecuador to assist farmers there. Upon returning to the U.S., she chose to live "off the grid" in the Hillsboro area, happy with a simple life, abiding in the glory of nature, and the companionship of her friends and horses.
Polly was preceded in death by her grandparents; parents, Robert and Dorothy Smith; brother, Peter Dean Smith; and sister, Priscilla "Sue" Shannon. She is survived by her children, Jennifer Smith of Madison, Holly Fenske of Baraboo and Jack (Terri) Fenske of Loganville; brother-in-law, Ron Shannon of Richland Center; sister-in-law, Anita Smith of Sanger, Texas; nephews, Peter Smith Jr., Paul Smith, Casey Shannon and Justin Shannon; and step-granddaughters, Ashley (Jason) Olah and Amanda Hannah.
We would like to thank the caregivers of Artisan Assisted Living and Heartland Hospice for their care, compassion, and friendship that went far beyond the normal course of duty.
No services have been planned at this time. To honor Polly, memorials may be made to Friends of Wildcat Mountain State Park, E13660 State Highway 33, Ontario, WI 54651 to maintain and enhance the horse trails that she so enjoyed. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.
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