Obituary: UWL alumna and former colleague Misha Bolstad

Julia Balli, General Assignment Reporter

University of WisconsinLa Crosse alumna and former colleague Misha Ruth (Welch) Bolstad, age 39, of La Crosse, WI, passed away on February 16.  

Bolstad was a member of our Art Department from 2014 until 2018. She received her Bachelors of Science degree from UWL in 2003. Her friend and former colleague Joel Elgin shared the following: 

I served as Misha’s advisor and printmaking professor here at UWL from 2001 – 2005 and was fortunate to teach in this Department with her the past four years. Misha was the rare artist/teacher whose personality embodied her artwork; she shared with her etchings a unique brilliance, charged with beautiful, strong color and magical forms. 

Torkelson Funeral Home published Bolstad’s obituary online, which said the following: 

Misha was born January 11, 1980, to Mike and Diane (Bailey) Welch in Tomah, Wisconsin. Misha was a 1998 graduate of Tomah High School. She went on to receive her Bachelors of Science Degree in Art with an emphasis in print making at UWL. In 2005, she received her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art and Critical Theory. 

Misha was a gifted artist who loved print making, graphic design, and interior design. She had a caring vivacious energy that made her loved by her students that she taught while she worked as a graphic design professor at UWL. Misha was most recently employed at Identity Works in West Salem. She spoke often of the amazing people she worked with not only at Identity Works, but at UW-L and Dura Tech Industries. She loved them all dearly. Her great friendships in her adult life include Kate Hawkes and Robin Oliver and her childhood friends, Jen (Linehan) Martin and Alyssa Schmidt.   

More than anything, Misha loved raising Daya together with Neil who has been a wonderful father and steadfast friend. She was a wonderful mother and Daya was her whole world. She touched the lives of many; her love was great, but her body grew weak.  

She is survived by her daughter, Daya, her parents, Mike and Diane Welch of Tomah, her sister, Whitney (John) Alibrandi, her grandmother, Ruth Bailey, many aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives and friends. 

She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Thomas and Wilna Welch and Douglas Bailey; and uncles, Steve and Dennis Welch, and Greg Aller. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Chasing Daylight Animal Shelter, 15560 Hwy 131, Tomah, WI 54660 or the Pump House Regional Arts Center, 119 King St, La Crosse, Wisconsin 54601. A memorial fund for Daya has been established at the Timberwood Bank in Tomah. Online condolences are available at