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Wausau area obituaries, Dec. 31, 2018

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Obituaries are a service of Brainard Funeral Home, with locations in Wausau and Weston.Lawrence Zimmerman

Lawrence Zimmerman, 90, of Wausau, passed away on December 29, 2018.

Lawrence was the loving husband of Angeline Ostrowski, who preceded him in death on April 17, 2011. He is survived by and was the beloved father of four children: Linda (Ken) Strand, Lawrence “Larry” (Kathy) Zimmerman, Dennis “Scott” (Darla) Zimmerman, and Shirley (Terry) Hintz; grandfather of Robby (Nicole) Hintz, Angela (Mark) DeYoung, Jason (Angie) Zimmerman, Brian (Carrie) Hintz, Jodi (Doug) Colrud, Brandi (Clyde) Maxwell, Laura (Gregory) Sisto, Tera Ruenger (Hintz), Amanda Zimmerman, and Lawrence “Larry-Bub”Zimmerman; great-grandfather of 15; and brother of Mildred Strassman, Earl Zimmerman and Arvilla Jacobson. Lawrence was preceded in death by his wife, parents and nine siblings.

Lawrence was born January 4, 1928 in Wausau. He served his country in the Army during WWII. Upon his honorable discharge, Lawrence married Angeline on October 4, 1947. He worked for Weyerhauser for over 40 years and enjoyed hobby-farming with his many pets of turkeys and chickens. Lawrence and Angeline were caring foster parents to many- ranging in age from babies to adults. Lawrence enjoyed his special time with his grandkids- especially teaching them how to drive the John Deere. His favorite snack of the day was coffee and chocolate chip cookies.

A funeral will be held Friday, January 4 at 12 noon at Restlawn Memorial Park, 4710 N. Troy Street, Wausau with visitation from 10am until the time of services. Military honors will follow.

The family would like to thank the staff at Mount View Care Center for their care, compassion and friendship to their father.


Senator Walter John Chilsen

Senator Walter John Chilsen, 95, of Weston, Wisconsin, died on Christmas morning after a brief illness. Beloved husband of sixty-five years to Rose, guiding light to his eight children as well as to numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, devoted friend and neighbor. Known for his integrity, compassion, and kindness, Walter John (or WJ, as he was known to his many friends and constituents) was a public servant, skilled rhetorician, consensus-builder, and orator. He was deeply committed to the democratic process, community, and the environment, and he was an ardent Badgers and Packers fan.

Born in Merrill, Wisconsin, on either 18 (or 19) November 1923, he delighted in celebrating two birthdays: the official one, November 18th, set by the hospital, and the 19th, set by his mother. It is emblematic of the expansive generosity of his character.

The second son of Walter Burt “WB” Chilsen and Margaret Chilsen née Sullivan, he was infused from the start with a sense of the importance of public service and a keen sense for storytelling and the newsworthy. As a boy Walter John learned to play the piano, sing, and golf and developed an aptitude for skilled communications that defined his professional life.

The Chilsen family lived in a large white house on the corner of 201 Mill Street, and every day WB would walk down the hill to the office of the Merrill Daily Herald, a newspaper he cofounded with his brother Joe in 1898. Walter John later described how WB would walk along, glancing back over his shoulder toward the house repeatedly until it was out of sight. It was almost as though he was assuring himself that it was there. WB was a self-made man. He’d been kicked out of high school on a misunderstanding. By the time the principal acknowledged his error and invited him back, WB had decided he didn’t need high school, and he didn’t return. That steely resolve was evident in Walter John as well.

Walter John enlisted in the Air Force during World War II, serving in the South Pacific together with his brother Pat, who served in the army. Rising to Lieutenant, he was a bombardier in a B-24 that caught flak over Okinawa. He helped successfully engineer his plane’s daring return, crashing shortly before reaching base. The lives of all but three flight members were saved, and he sustained a back injury that accompanied, yet didn’t define, him the rest of his life. Like many World War II vets, he rarely discussed his Air Force experience. He was awarded the Purple Heart for bravery, having helped the remaining crew members reach safety after the crash.

He attended Northwestern University briefly, and graduated later from Lawrence University. While at Northwestern, he took a course in radio announcing and radio acting. The course professor, impressed by his work, encouraged him to act, which led to his convincing portrayal on the stage, at about age 20, of the old sea captain Shotover in George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House. Rose Edl, his girlfriend at the time, saw every show. He performed in other plays at Lawrence, including a role as Kit Carson in The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan. After a stint in Stockbridge, MA, he ventured to Hollywood, where he played a sergeant in At War with the Army at the old Hollywood Canteen. He got paid $10 a week and, as he put it, “all the popcorn I could eat.”

He attributed his theater experience to his interest in pursuing work in radio and television.

Walter John met the love of his life, a beautiful young x-ray technician who was attending to his mother at Holy Cross Hospital in Merrill. Rose Edl already knew who he was. She enjoyed listening to his weekly radio show, Eventide Echoes, a dreamy nighttime music program Walter John hosted at the local radio station. Throughout his life, Walter John could bring a glittering smile to her face describing how his heart fluttered when he first saw her.

They married on 20 September 1952. Living in Los Angeles at the time of their engagement, they intended to marry there, and WJ later enjoyed telling the story of how they arranged a meeting with their parish priest to begin wedding planning. In his office, the priest opened his notebook on his desk, “Tell me about your families. Walter John, how many siblings do you have? Four? Thank you. And you Rose?” Pencil poised to make his note. “Eleven? I see.” He set his pencil on the desk, closed his book, looked at them patiently, and said “Go home.” So they were married in Ridgeway, Wisconsin, with a reception at the farm of Rose’s parents, and settled in Merrill in a small apartment above his father’s newspaper office along the railroad tracks. He started his broadcast career at WLIN radio in Merrill, relocating to Wausau two years later to take a job at WSAU radio and television. He and Rose bought a solid old farmhouse on Townline Road with a yard full of mud and chickens. He lived there with Rose until his death, having made multiple improvements to accommodate his growing family.

WJ’s media experience, good looks, resonant voice, and sense of adventure led to his being tapped as the first news anchor for a new television station in northern Wisconsin. He was very proud to have signed WSAU-TV Channel 7 on the air, making the opening announcement for the station in 1954. He went on to anchor the news program for ten years as part of the “News, Weather and Sports” team of Chilsen, Gernetzke, and Zelich. Theirs is the only broadcast trio to have all been inducted into the Broadcast Hall of Fame, which Walter John joined in 2005. “Dick Dudley had a lot to do with that,” he said. His broadcasting job led to lifelong friendships that sustained him and Rose and continue to sustain their family.

The broad name recognition and high visibility of the job also contributed to his successful election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 1966 where he served for six terms, twenty-four years. He tried his hand for Congress in 1969, in an unsuccessful bid to fill the seat vacated by Mel Laird, who had moved to Washington to join the Nixon administration.

WJ’s service as a Wisconsin state senator was marked perhaps most significantly by his insistence upon listening. He especially listened to people who disagreed with him. He said it helped him to understand and refine his own beliefs. And he listened to his constituents, out of a sincere belief that it was up to him to represent them in Madison. He felt this was one reason he continued to be reelected as a fiscally conservative Republican in a liberal Democratic district.

He expressed concern over the direction of political discourse in recent years and bemoaned the loss of the art of negotiation and collaboration, which he saw as essential for governing in a democracy.

After leaving the senate in 1990 he continued in public service, joining the Weston Town Board, retiring after seventeen years in December 2017. He was proud of his service on the board of the environmental group, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, where his voice was a valued presence of bipartisanship. He and Rose were decades-long volunteers at The Neighbor’s Place, a food pantry Rose helped to cofound, and where Walter John held the honor of “Permanent Vice Chair.” His most avid interest in the years before his death was to establish a legacy giving campaign to sustain the organization.

He esteemed his friendships and neighbors.

Walter John Chilsen loved Christmas. He thrived on the gathering of family, relished singing carols, loud and in harmony, found promise in the spirit of renewal and light. Every Christmas Eve he’d fill the house with the sound of public radio’s broadcast of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. He and Rose sang in the church choir for Christmas midnight mass many years, joined at times by their children. Recent years’ Christmas celebrations saw WJ and Rose perched in the middle of their large living room, surrounded by the hubbub of conversation and gift-giving, enveloped in mountains of wrapping paper, accompanied by their many loved ones, relishing the cacophony. Every gathering included a boisterous family caroling sing-a-long.

The legacy of Walter John’s compassionate familial love lives on.

Walter John is survived by his cherished wife, Rose, willing straightwoman to his many bad jokes; by his eight children: Jonathan (Tammie Weiss), of DeForest, WI; Anna (Joe Straub), of Marathon, WI; Kristine (Bill Rundle), of Evansville, WI; Elizabeth “Liz” (Michael Garman), of Forest Park, IL; Peter (Jacquelynn Evans), of Muskego, WI; Patricia (John Golbach), of New York, NY; Paul of Nashville, TN, (Lisa Chilsen, of Kenosha, WI); and Matthew, of New York, NY; and by former daughter-in-law Jo Shilts, of New Richmond, WI. He is further survived by his grandchildren, whom he held dear and in whom he took such pride: Kali Chilsen, Devon Weiss and Garrett Scheffen; Katherine, Andrew (Ayila Hall), and Amelia Straub; Margaret Chilsen; Alexander (Tarren Sohier), Benjamin, and Jackie (Brian Montpetit) Chilsen; Gabriella (JonCarlos Velez); Freyja Chilsen Golbach; Rose and Anfinn Chilsen; and by a growing tribe of great-grandchildren: Eliana and Reyah Velez; Michael and Aidan Torres and Phillip Waller; Evalie and Jasfer Straub; and many beloved nieces and nephews together with their beautiful families.

Walter John and Rose’s much-loved dog Bily keeps faithful watch beside Rose now, in Walter’s honor.

His “adopted” foreign exchange families include Mario Antonio and Marilia Firjam, of Juiz de Fora, Brazil, and their children and extended family; and Eugenio “Gino” Alvarado and his daughter Maria Alejandra, of Panama City, Panama.

Walter also nurtured lasting ties with extended family overseas, treasuring connections with Rose’s Bohemian relatives.

WJ was the last surviving member of his generation in his family, having been preceded in death by both his parents, and his siblings Bill, of Ellsworth, OR; Bette (Bob) Klocksin, of Milwaukee, WI; Pat (Phyllis), of Merrill, WI; Val (Shirley), of Onalaska, WI; and his beloved nieces Terry Chilsen, of Wausau, WI, and Janice Chilsen, of Ellsworth, ME.

The family would like to extend special gratitude to long-time caregiver Shandra Skalecke for her kind and gentle attention over the years, and to Noreen Landowski for her kindness.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 12:00 noon on Friday, January 4, 2019 at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 1104 S. 9th Ave. Wausau.  The Rev. Robert Thorn will officiate. Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the funeral service at the church on Friday, and again on Thursday, January 3, 2019 from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. also at the church. Parish Rosary Service will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at the church. Military Honors will be performed by American Legion Montgomery-Plant-Dudley Post 10 and the United States Air Force. Interment will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a contribution be made to The Neighbor’s Place, 745 Scott Street, Wausau WI 54403.

Dad’s sonorous “Good-bye!”—which he always sang out, starting at a low bass tone and rising to a treble vibrato, following us as we left any visit—will ring warmly in our hearts forever.

“G’-Byyyyeeee!”

He is profoundly missed.

Brainard Funeral Home – Everest Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements. Online Condolences may be shared at www.brainardfuneral.com


Donations may be made to:

The Neighbors’ Place
745 Scott Street, Wausau WI 54403
Tel: 1-715-845-1966
Web: http://neighborsplace.org/get-involved/donate/


Lilas A. BrandtLilas Albert Brandt age 92, died Saturday, December 29, 2018 at Ripon Medical Center with his family by his side.

Lilas was born November 18, 1926 in the Town of Rib Falls to the late Bernard and Emma (Huehnerfuss) Brandt. He met Eileen Utecht at a friend’s birthday party and the two were united in marriage on September 13, 1952 at Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ, Wausau. The couple worked together on the family farm, raising their ten children and teaching them a strong work ethic and many life lessons. Lilas also worked at Silcrest and Schuette’s Warehouse. Lilas and Eileen lived on the family farm at North 88th Avenue for 35 years and then moved into the City of Wausau. The couple celebrated 58 wonderful and loving years of marriage on their last anniversary before Eileen’s passing. Lilas enjoyed doing woodworking projects for the Talent Shop, helping family and friends with butchering, and cooking maple syrup with his sons and grandchildren. He was an avid Brewers and Packers fan and enjoyed fishing. Lilas was a wonderful father and grandfather. He enjoyed family celebrations and visiting with family and friends.

Lilas is survived by his sisters, Sylvaline Pickruhn, Athens and Pearl Sekorski, Wausau; sister-in-law Elaine Utecht, Green Bay; and children, Mark and Jane Gust, Dan and Lori Pagel, Keith and Laura Smith, Debra Raether, Thomas and Richelle Chaignot, Jane and Matt Lueptow, Donna Goeden, Amy and Rich Metzner, and Scott and Gloria Gutknecht. He is also survived by 28 grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren whom he loved very much; and many extended family and dear friends. Lilas was preceded in death by his wife, Eileen; his daughter, Ruth and son-in-law Gary Hemmrich; his brothers and their wives, Lewellyn (Mabel) Brandt, Lawrence (Anita) Brandt, Levi (Ethel) Brandt, Marvin Brandt, Milton (Arlene) Brandt, Ervin (Helen) Brandt, and Walter (Marion) Brandt; his sister and her husband Clarice (Harold) Kopplin; his brother-in-laws Harley Pickruhn and John Sekorski; as well as his brother-in-law and sister-in-law Harold and June Utecht; and his brother-in-law Donald Utecht.

Funeral services will be 11:00 AM on Thursday, January 3, 2019 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1008 No 120th Ave, Town of Stettin. Reverend Phil Bogen will be officiating. Visitation will be from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM on Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at Helke Funeral Home, 302 Spruce Street, Wausau, and Thursday at the church beginning at 9:30 AM until the time of services. Burial will be in the Stettin Christian Cemetery. Please sign the family guestbook at helke.com.

The family would like to extend a heartfelt word of thanks to the staff and residents at Maplecrest Assisted Living for their care and friendship to Lilas during his time there.


Edward Fenhaus

Edward Fenhaus, 87, passed away at his home on Saturday, December 29, 2018.

He was born on December 21, 1931 in Marathon, to the late Conrad and Selma (Bartelt) Fenhaus. He met, fell in love with and married the love of his life, Louann Worden, on November 27, 1953. After devoting his life to Louann and caring for her through her battle with Alzheimer’s, she preceded him in death on December 2, 2014.

Ed served honorably in the United States Army from 1951-1953. He was a proud Veteran of the Korean War and was honored to have participated in the Honor Flight. He will receive Military Funeral Rites from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Burns Post 388.

Ed was a hard worker. He grew up and worked on the family farm and was also a mail carrier for the United States Postal Service. He was very active in the local government serving as the Clerk for the Town of Wausau and a Supervisor for Marathon County. He was proud to have served several terms on Chairman of the Marathon County Board.

Ed was very active in the community. He was a faithful member of Zion Lutheran Church and was a member of the VFW, Elks Lodge, Moose Lodge, and Easton-Hewitt-Wausau Lions Club. He was also a Director on both the Wisconsin Valley Fair Board and the State Fair Board.

Most important to Ed was his family, friends, and enjoying the life he’d been given. Whether it was traveling with his cousins and aunts, going up north with Louann to the cabin, or spending time with his kids and grandkids, Ed was having fun. His laughter, his smile, and his bad dancing will be missed.

Ed is survived by his children, Ron (Nancy) Fenhaus, Pamela (Ron) Hoppe, Lisa (Scott) Fenhaus-Johnson and Mark Fenhaus (Laurie Ippolito); daughter-in-law, Gloria Fenhaus; 15 grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; brother Fred (Sally) Fenhaus; sisters, Karen (Cliff) Prigge and Kathy (Mike) Bartelt; as well as his sister-in-law’s, Verda Bliese, Pat Mallon, Mary Coleman, and Sandy Townshend.

In addition to his wife and parents, Ed was preceded in death by his son Gary.

A memorial service will take place at 11:30 am on Thursday, January 3, 2019 at Zion Lutheran Church, 701 N 6th Street. Rev. Dr. Steven Gjerde will officiate. Visitation will take place from 9:00 am until the time of services at the church. Burial and military honors will take place at Restlawn Memorial Park. Please sign the family guestbook at helke.com

The family prefers memorials are directed to Zion Lutheran Church.


Dennis Traska

Dennis E. Traska, 66, of Wausau, passed away December 27, 2018 at North Central Health Care surrounded by his family. He was born on February 22, 1952 in Wausau to the late Elroy and Adeline (Schreiber) Traska. On April 12, 1980 Dennis married Mary Ann Waraksa at Holy Name Catholic Church, Wausau.

In his free time, he enjoyed spending time outdoors hunting and fishing as well as attending polka events. His greatest joy was his family and getting to spend time with his grandchildren.

He is survived by his wife Mary, his children Curtis (Korrin) Traska, Schofield; Kevin (Angela) Traska, Wausau; Kelly Traska, Wausau; grandchildren Julian, Eli, and Jonathan Traska; brother Lyle Traska, Wausau; sister Judy (Al) Schubring, Wausau.

Dennis was preceded in death by his parents, daughter Melony and an infant brother at birth.

There was a Celebration Gathering Sunday December 30, 2018 at the Trails End Lodge. You may sign the family guestbook at helke.com


Mary Wendler

Mary L. Wendler, 80, of Wittenberg, died on Saturday, December 29, 2018 at Aspirus Wausau Hospital.

She was born on September 24, 1938 in Stevens Point, the daughter of the late Ferdinand and Lorraine (Viertel) Zabrowski.

On April 9, 1960, Mary was united in marriage to Ralph Wendler in Fort Wayne, IN.  He survives.

Mary worked for a cleaning company in Menasha and also operated a daycare before moving to Wittenberg in 1999.  She was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wittenberg.  Mary also enjoyed attending Hodag.

Survivors include her husband Ralph of Wittenberg; two sons, Dean Wendler of Wittenberg and Brian (Cheryl) Wendler of Appleton; two grandchildren, Logan (fiancé Courtney) and Arianna (friend Will) and two siblings, Linda Zabrowski of Oshkosh and Mark Roman of Appleton.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

The funeral service will be held at 11AM on Saturday, January 5, 2019 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wittenberg.  Rev. Matthew Christians will officiate.  Burial will be in Forest Home Cemetery, Wittenberg.  Visitation will be on Saturday from 9AM until the time of service at the church.

Schmidt & Schulta Funeral Home, Wittenberg is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.  Memories and condolences may be shared at schmidtschulta.com or at Schmidt & Schulta Funeral Home on Facebook.

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