Dorothy Mary Gerig, born to Chris and Lena (nee Bies) in September of 1928 in Kaukauna, oldest of 4 girls, died peacefully 5 days after a stroke on April 1 at age 92, with her Son by her side.
Growing up on a farm during the Great Depression, she had a lot of chores - Mom always half-joked she was the unpaid hired hand; thus, her formal education did not go much past grade school, yet she was a very smart woman with loads of common sense. A hard-working, strong-willed woman and a devoted mother, she always persevered against the many obstacles life threw at her. She found tremendous strength in her Catholic faith.
During the 50s and 60s, Mom supplemented our family’s income by selling a plethora of produce and flowers by the road, harvested from her huge garden. Mom loved gardening, still meticulously tending her vegetable and flower gardens, and mowing her large lawn. She was honored to showcase all her talents in the 2005 Charity Garden Walk for the Homeless Connections Shelter.
Mom adored and easily connected to children, always ready with a big hug, and she had a special place in her heart for those mentally challenged. Dorothy was an RSVP reading tutor to 1st graders for many years.
Mom was accomplished at sewing, including making all her 3 children’s shirts and pj’s, canning, cooking, and baking (her cookies, pies, cakes, and various breads were primo and never in short supply); she won many county fair blue ribbons in a myriad of categories, including her kitchen creations, garden produce, flowers, sewing and crafts. She enjoyed crafts, becoming accomplished at dozens, being especially proud of her many kinds of needle work, some taking nearly 800 hours to complete.
Mom had a zeal for volunteerism, such as being a Eucharistic minister at St. Elizabeth Spiritual Services for over 30 years; at 1000 Islands Environmental Center (reaping great joy from the kid’s smiles when she made them big-eared animal shaped pancakes during maple syrup days); and many years assisting physically and mentally challenged nursing home folks, taking them on shopping and restaurant excursions.
Dorothy loved kitties, birds - watching them at her feeders and in her woods, ducks on her pond, word search puzzles, Golden Girls and Everybody Loves Raymond reruns, plus all the little things in life and nature that many people never notice. Even though they ate her apples and tomatoes, Mom was like a giddy little kid every time she saw deer or turkeys in her yard.
Dorothy married Raymond Andrew Stoffel (1919-67) in 1949 and had 3 sons: Roger (1951), Jerome (1952-78) and Steven (1960-76). I often heard the story of an unusually hot 1951 May day, after working hard in her garden, she started going into labor with me, but as times were tough, Mom and Dad waited in the hospital parking lot until after midnight since they could not afford charges for an extra day. (Even back then, health care was a problem!)
She married Norbert Dietzen (1925-2014) in 1969. She is survived by her son Roger Raymond (Nancy); stepchildren: Dorothy (Mark) Standaert, Phyllis (Joe) Sprangers, Ben (Lori) Dietzen, Barb (Brian) Smith, and Sarah (Gary) VanWychen; sister Dolores Hoefler; 14 step grandchildren and numerous step great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, 2 husbands, 2 children, stepson Bernie, 2 sisters and their husbands: Kathy (Donald) Dietzen and Lucille “Fuzzy” (Dan) Weyenberg, brother-in-law Wenzel Hoefler, and her beloved cat/companion Rasha (1995-2014). Special gratitude to her devoted stepdaughter Phyllis, her best friend Joan, and helpful neighbors.
A mass to honor her life will take place at St. Mary’s Church, 119 E. 7th St., Kaukauna, May 15 at 11 AM. Please honor CoVid-19 protocols, i.e., face masks and social distancing. The family requests no memorials, just your warm thoughts and memories. Online condolences may be expressed at www.verkuilenfh.com
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom - We love and miss you.
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