MARSHFIELD, Wis. – Carolee Ruhnke (nee Kellogg), beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, passed away at her Marshfield home, surrounded by her family, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, following a brief battle with cancer.
Carolee was born Oct. 28, 1942, to Arthur and Alicemae Kellogg in Sheboygan, Wis., where she was raised along with her younger brother, John “Jack.” She attended Sheboygan South High School and Spencerian Business College.
She married Tom McCormick in 1966, and they had three daughters, Deirdre, Sara, and Cathy.
She married Doug Ruhnke on June 16, 1979, the luckiest day of his life.
Carolee worked as a newspaperwoman in Wisconsin for much of her adult life, first at the West Bend News, where Doug also worked. After moving to Marshfield in 1985, she worked at the Marshfield News-Herald. When she retired from the News-Herald full time, she continued to write her popular column, “Friends and Neighbors,” until illness forced her to stop. Her final column was published in the newspaper on June 24, 2013, and can be read along with her other columns online in the newspaper’s archives – www.marshfieldnewsherald.com.
She is survived by Doug, her husband of 34 years; and her three married daughters and sons-in-law, Deirdre McCormick and Jim Cole of Peshtigo, Wis., Sara McCormick and Walter (Scott) Bischoff of Marshfield, and Cathy and Erik Nieman of Centreville, Va. Also surviving her are four grandchildren, McCormick Cole, Samantha McCormick Bischoff, Tyler Robert Nieman, and Brayden Lee Nieman; and her brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Gayle Kellogg.
Family, friends, and acquaintances will remember Carolee as a woman of wry wit and generous disposition.
She loved people and a lively party. She also loved music and dancing. She and Doug were known to dance in the aisles of supermarkets if a song came on that they liked. Throughout their marriage, they were habitual hand-holders who kissed each other when they said hello or goodbye, and whenever they just plain felt like it – a fact that used to make the girls squirm.
At holidays, the Ruhnke house was filled with family and guests. If Carolee knew of someone who didn’t have a place to be or family to be with on holidays, there was sure to be an extra plate set at the table for her “orphans.”
She had the Irish love for a good yarn and told her daughters that no matter what good, bad or strange turns life took, it would always make a fine story in the end.
Like the time she woke up early to start cooking the Thanksgiving turkey, which was thawing in the basement. The rest of the household woke up to her shouting, “Where in the hell is the #&% turkey!” It was a rare use of that sort of language by Carolee and enough to bring Doug hustling down the stairs half asleep to assist in the hunt.
She loved her grandchildren and her garden, nurturing both with care. She also used her spare time to give back to the community she loved. As a volunteer, she helped Hispanic women learn English through the Literacy Council of Wood County. Through Big Brothers Big Sisters she mentored young children. The ladies she helped to learn our culture and language shared their traditions with her in return. The children she mentored were amazed by her ability to read from papers that were upside down.
Those who knew and loved her best describe her as strong but bendable, fun and funny, accepting and forgiving. They use words such as sassy, upbeat, encouraging, and outgoing. The word most often used is loving.
The world is a better place for Carolee having passed through it, and those who crossed her path are better for the experience.
The family will receive relatives and friends from 10 a.m. to noon and the memorial service will be at noon Saturday at Rembs Funeral Home, 300 S. Oak Ave., Marshfield, Wis.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to Ministry Health Care Hospice for its compassionate care.
Visit www.rembsfh.com to send condolences.