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

Eleanor Pepke

Eleanor Pepke passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 20, 2019, at age 93. It is said that the trick to life is not living long, but living enough. Eleanor did both. She enjoyed a long life, and it was a full life well lived. It was enough.

Eleanor Pepke

Eleanor was born to Martha (Bick) and Frank White on Aug. 20, 1925 in Wausau, Wisconsin. She had three brothers, Ervin, Francis and Roger White. Like many young women of the times, Eleanor married her high school sweetheart Donald Pepke on May 18, 1946, shortly after he returned from the war where he served as a Marine in the Pacific. Together they had four children, Mary, David (who preceded Eleanor in death on April 7, 2015), Michael (Kate) and Melissa (Missy Kolbeck) (Jeff). Donald passed away April 25, 1988. In addition to her children, Eleanor dearly loved and greatly enjoyed eight grandchildren: Maria Pepke Garrett, Emily and Lydia Kolbeck, Lauren and Ben Pepke (David and Brenda’s family), and Michael, Connor and Clare Pepke (Michael and Kate’s family). Eleanor had a very special relationship with her granddaughters Emily and Lydia, having lived with Missy and Jeff and the girls throughout their adolescent and teenage years.

Eleanor’s life centered primarily on two things: her deep and uncompromising faith and her love for and devotion to her family. In many ways, Eleanor lived her life through the eyes, emotions and experiences of her children and grandchildren. Very few of their experiences were complete until they were shared with mom/grandma. Eleanor was an empathetic listener and she was always there for her family, no matter the time, place or circumstance. When they laughed she’d smile from ear to ear and when they cried she match them tear for tear. Eleanor’s interest in her children and grandchildren was as genuine as it was enthusiastic. She provided steadfast encouragement and support for them and their endeavors and adventures. Her advice and guidance were invaluable life lessons, and her comforting embrace was irreplaceable. More than anything, she accepted and loved her family unconditionally, and she always subordinated her interests to theirs.

Eleanor had many interests over the years, but her passions were Dixieland Jazz, playing the piano (she played enthusiastically, but only “by ear”), reading (she had an eclectic interest in literature and she studied the Bible daily), watching “Jeopardy” (intently), gardening (she particularly loved the scent of lilacs) and playing bridge. Over the years she played in countless bridge groups, making lifelong friends along the way.  And she always got a kick out of having her son tell her bridge ladies a “naughty” joke.

In 1957, Eleanor and Don bought the Dairy Queen on Thomas Street in Wausau, where for years Eleanor worked every summer morning. They sold the Dairy Queen in 1987, but for decades thereafter, her children frequently heard people recall Pepke’s Dairy Queen, fondly remembering Eleanor for her warm smile, her friendly greeting and the twinkle in her eyes as she teased them. She had a gift for making people feel comfortable and welcome, and she was gentle and kind. She was also known lovingly as Mrs. Clean, coining the phrase “cleanliness is next to Godliness” which all those who worked for her quickly learned and lived.

It has been noted that “Life is pleasant, death is peaceful, but it’s the transition that is painful.”  And so it is with Eleanor’s life and passing.  While 93 years seems like a long time, for those who knew and loved Eleanor, it wasn’t enough.  And while there is comfort in knowing she has found peace and God’s grace, she will be terribly missed. Her family has spent every day loving her, and now they will spend every day missing her. The consensus among Eleanor’s children and grandchildren is that she was the best and most wonderful mom and grandma anyone could possibly hope for. And therein lies her legacy.

Eleanor’s family will be forever grateful for the sensitive and attentive care she received from the many care givers attending to her these past years. They are the unsung heroes of the elderly and their families. The family also wants to express heartfelt gratitude to Fran Gazda who for many years faithfully did Eleanor’s hair every weekend. Eleanor loved getting her hair done and that time with Fran.

Private family services will be held at a later date in celebration of Eleanor’s life. Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Rather than sending cards or flowers, the family hopes people send thoughts and prayers the way of all the elderly, and when they pass by an older person – don’t just pass by, stop, smile and say hello.

Joan Wilichowski

Joan Wilichowski, 73, died Thursday, June 19, 2019, at UW Health University Hospital, Madison.

Joan Wilichowski

She was born July 6, 1945, in Wausau, daughter of the late Carl and Margaret (Corda) Wilichowski.

Joan worked as a receptionist for 42 years at St. Anthony Spiritualty Center. She was strong in faith and in that faith she was able to show unconditional love to everyone she met. She made lifelong friends along the way and enjoyed traveling, reading, playing cards and games and gardening. She loved spending time with family, especially the younger generation of nieces and nephews. She always made time for you to listen or just to be there for you.

Survivors include her sister, Marjorie Buchberger, Wisconsin Rapids; brother, Charles (Dianne) Wilichowski, Marathon; nieces and nephews, Sharon (Mark) Berndt, Sue Wilichowski, Barbara Wilichowski, Janice (Martin) Kallenbach, Gary (Kae) Wilichowski, James (Barb) Wilichowski, Patrick Wilichowski, Lynn (Bob) Dunahee, Steve (Cathie) Buchberger, Cathy Buchberger, Michelle (Jim) Cveykus, Carl (Kim) Wilichowski, Nancy Sauter, Pam (Scott) Hanke and Andy (Collette) Wilichowski; many great nieces and nephews and many great great nieces and nephews.

Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by a brother, Robert, sister, Lucille, brother-in-law, Albert Buchberger, sister-in-law, Millie, niece, Julie Wilichowski and nephew-in-law, Russell Sauter.

The funeral Mass will be celebrated 3 p.m. Sunday, June 23, 2019, at St. Mary Catholic Church, Marathon. Rev. Msgr. Joseph Diermeier will preside. Burial will be in the parish cemetery.  Visitation will be Saturday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home, Marathon, and again on Sunday from 1 p.m. until the time of services at the church. There will be a 6:30 p.m. rosary service Saturday evening at the Marathon funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the St. Anthony Retreat Center, Marathon.

She chose to be an organ donor and the family would like to thank the staff at UW Health University Hospital for the compassionate care given to Joan and the family during this difficult time.

The family would love to hear your Joan story. If you have one to share, you can leave a written copy at the visitation or post one online in the condolences section at

Lorraine Enkers

Lorraine E. Enkers, 97, of Wausau passed into eternal life on Monday, June 17, 2019, at the Evergreen Memory Unit of North Central Health Care in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Lorraine Enkers

Lorraine was born in Port Washington, Wisconsin, to Matthias and Katherine (Pohl) Even on July 28, 1921.

At the age of four, Lorraine, and her family moved to the Pohl family homestead in White Rock, South Dakota, when the Great Depression took place. She attended school and worked the family farm. More importantly, she learned her mother’s dressmaking skills that became her legacy.

Following World War II, she married Edward Enkers and settled in Wausau, Wisconsin. Lorraine shared her sewing talent in the community that included: sewing for Stunt Night, many families, and local businesses. Lorraine was a Cub Scout Den Mother, a member of United Commercial Travelers Auxiliary 270, Wausau Eagles Club Auxiliary Aerie 251, and a league bowler at Mountain Lanes. She was a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Post 10 for over 80 years and the VFW Auxiliary Burns Post 388 for over 65 years. She cooked for the VFW Wisconsin Valley Fair food stand, and she distributed poppies for the VFW and American Legion.

Lorraine and Edward enjoyed traveling, and when Lorraine’s husband Edward passed away in 1988, she continued her travels. She continued to sew, making many garments and quilts for her grand and great-grandchildren, and her heart was full when she held all the new babies.

Together they raised five children who all reside in Wisconsin: Dianne (Enkers) Brookhyser of Weston, Sharon (Robert) Golla of Stevens Point, Eugene (Kathy) Enkers of Hatley, and Robert (Jane) Enkers of Weston, and a deceased son, Merlin Enkers of Wausau. She was additionally blessed with 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. Her sister, Kathleen Holecek of Tampa, Florida, is her only surviving sibling. Other siblings were Ethel Gragert, Beatrice Murray, Aloys and Joseph Even.

A funeral service will be at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 27, 2019, at Grace United Church of Christ, 535 S. Third Ave., Wausau, with Rev. Julie Goranson officiating. Visitation will begin at 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 26, at Helke Funeral Home, Wausau, and resume at the church on Thursday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. until the time of service. Burial will follow in the military section of Restlawn Memorial Park, town of Texas.

Online condolences may be expressed at

As an expression of sympathy, memorial contributions may be sent to the Humane Society of Marathon County or Aspirus Comfort Care & Hospice Services.

Donations may be made to:

Marathon County Humane Society
7001 Packer Drive, Wausau WI 54401
Tel: 1-715-845-2810

Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services
520 N. 32nd Ave., Wausau WI 54401

Keith Weister

Keith D. Weister, 62, passed away peacefully on June 18, 2019, at home under Aspirus hospice care with Deb, Tammy and Tracy by his side.

Keith Weister

Keith was born on June 26, 1956, in Wausau, Wisconsin, to the late Carol (Bielke) and Donald Weister, and served two years in the USMC. He worked at Kolbe and Kolbe for 10 years, retired from Graphic Packaging Int. after 33 years.

He is survived by his fiancee of 24 years, Deb Gryniewski; two sisters, Bonnie (Wayne) Stretsbery of Rothschild, and Colleen (Mike) Crowley of Wausau; two nieces and one nephew. Extended family includes Tammy Puphal; Tracy (Randy) Pagryzinski; four step-grandchildren; and three step-great-grandchildren.

Even though Keith and Deb were not officially married, he was a very big part of their lives. We will all miss him greatly. Rest in peace.

Celebration of life will be held at the Rothschild Village Hall, 211 Grand Ave. (Old Business Highway 51) Rothschild on Wednesday June 26, 2019, from 4:30 p.m.-7 p.m.

The Mid-Wisconsin Cremation Society is assisting the family. For online condolences, please visit