Posted: Tue 5:19 PM, Oct 22, 2013
Funeral Home: Helke
Charlotte (Roepke) Lemke made the transition to her heavenly home on October
21, 2013 at the age of 96.
She was born at home in Birnamwood, Wisconsin to Chas. J. and Cora (Lemke)
Roepke on September 10, 1917, the fifth of eight children. Her Christian
parents brought her to church for Baptism and encouraged her by word and
example to grow in her faith in Jesus as her Savior. She was confirmed at
St. Paul Lutheran Church in Birnamwood with John 3:16 as her Bible verse.
Her job growing up was to peel potatoes for the family lunch and if she didn’t
get it done before school, she ran home at recess to accomplish her task.
She had a happy childhood with many visits from relatives in her large
extended family and friends and trips to Mayflower and Norrie Lakes.
Although she grew up during the Great Depression, she never was aware of it
as God provided for her family’s every need.
In high school, Charlotte enjoyed many activities, especially playing the
glockenspiel in band and cheering on the Birnamwood ball teams with their
orange and black school colors. During these years, she was in Campfire
Girls and created her own yell: “Hi-lo-eenie meenie-kai-kai in the
bee-wah-wah…” which she used with her family to call each other in the
After Charlotte graduated from Birnamwood High School in 1935, she joined
her sisters working in Milwaukee, but soon she returned to the small town
life of Birnamwood where she helped out in her father’s hardware store,
Roepke Hardware. Over the years, she continued to help out there as
One day, her sister Dorothea invited Charlotte to join her on a blind date
where she met the love of her life, Fred Lemke, of rural Wausau. While
courting, they enjoyed many dances at Eau Claire Dells and Mayflower Lake.
On April 19, 1941 Fred and Charlotte came before the Lord’s altar to be
united in marriage at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Birnamwood. They shared
the same faith, which was important to them.
They were blessed with two children, William F. Lemke of Woodruff and Lu Ann
Selmeyer of Antigo. They delighted in spending time with their seven
grandchildren: Brea (Isaac) Grace of Onalaska, Shem (Katie) Lemke of Mequon,
Heidi (Shinri) Emoto of Tokyo, Japan, Shayna (fiancée Sergei Pavlov) Lemke
of Bridgton, Maine, DJ (Ranae) Selmeyer of Phoenix, Arizona, Shad Lemke of
Wilsall, Montana, and Casey (Kelly) Lemke of Munster, Indiana. Once again,
blessings poured down from Heaven in their ten great-grandchildren: Shiloh,
Sean, Mildred, Nora, and Kira Lemke; Innis and Adaryn Grace; Noah and Meg
Emoto; and Madeline Selmeyer.
Also surviving is one brother, Dr. Henry Roepke and his wife Carol of
Milwaukee and sister-in-law Jean Roepke of Cedarburg/Mayflower Lake. She
was preceded to Heaven by her parents, her beloved husband Frederick W. in
1990, and siblings: Norman, Elton, Mildred, Dorothea, Ruth, and Newton as
well as in-laws: Zella Roepke, Monroe Mund, Carl Detjen, and Earle Gimber.
Too soon after their marriage, the winds of WWII saw Fred leaving to serve
his country overseas. Charlotte then returned to Birnamwood to help in the
family business while keeping a scrapbook of Fred’s patriotic service as an
MP in the U.S. Army, serving in North Africa, Sicily, England, and D-day at
Omaha Beach. After victory was achieved, there was a joyful celebration
when Fred returned to Wisconsin. They began building a new home on Stewart
Avenue in Wausau and Fred returned to work at Lemke Milk Products, which his
father had founded. Soon they were looking for more challenges and bought a
98 acre farm 3 miles north of Wausau. Now there was more than enough work
for both of them as the many farm chores strengthened their partnership!
Charlotte became involved in activities at Trinity Lutheran School as their
two children grew, including, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and 4-H. Fred
attended night school to take drafting classes to design a new house and
Charlotte studied landscaping and showcard lettering. This led to her
developing her own printing style and a life-long interest in calligraphy.
For many years, every Saturday night was spent square dancing with friends
and neighbors at the Maine Town Hall. This group had an annual Labor Day
weekend of fun and dancing at Camp Susan.
For over 50 years, Charlotte was an active member of Handy Hands Homemakers
Club. She also enjoyed the out-of-doors, keeping both flower and vegetable
gardens. Many friends and neighbors enjoyed bouquets and raspberries from
her gardens or slips of the plants she shared. Each fall the pantry was
filled with canned goods: pickles, peaches, pears, her special V-8 juice,
grape juice and jams and jellies. Her love of nature extended to rescuing
little Christmas trees from the ditches on the side of the road before they
were cut off by the mowers. She planted these trees in her yard for future
Christmas trees. One of her greatest joys until well past 90 years of age
was mowing her big lawn. She refused the help of anyone who offered!
After Fred retired, they were able to travel and visit places in the U.S.
and also took a tour to Europe to see the places Fred had been during the
war. They enjoyed winters at their Florida home where Charlotte tended her
orange, grapefruit, and kumquat trees and flower gardens. In her spare
time, Charlotte enjoyed sharing her love of the USA by stitching American
flag refrigerator magnets. One of their favorite activities was attending
the annual Packer-Bear game at Lambeau Field.
After Fred died in 1990, Charlotte spent more time volunteering at her
church, organizing the annual bazaar, serving for funeral dinners, and
helping where needed. She was also active in weekly Bible study, the 55+
group and Welfare Workers and served on the Homme Home Foundation Board. She
faithfully continued to attend Trinity Lutheran Church each Sunday.
When she reached the age of 90, Charlotte decided to celebrate her birthday
with a hot air balloon ride. Thanks to a friend from her hometown, she was
able to fly over the farmland north of Wausau, rising higher than Rib
Mountain, and land in the field near her home.
Family and faith were most important to Charlotte. She enjoyed gathering
everyone around the table for a home-cooked meal. Schaum torte was a
favorite, topped with berries and ice cream! In planning for Thanksgiving
dinner one year, she baked her turkey ahead of time and took it off the
bone. Then she put it in a pan in her garage “refrigerator” so it would be
ready for when the family came for dinner the next day. When she went to
get it, the whole pan (and turkey) had disappeared! She never did find out
what happened to that turkey.
On one of her trips to Antigo, she drove into the driveway with a pheasant
on her front bumper that she had met up with on the highway. The bird was
in such great shape that she decided to have it mounted for everyone to
enjoy its beautiful feathers.
For the last two years Charlotte has been a resident at Mount View Care
Center in Wausau where she was able to rest comfortably under the watchful
eyes of hospice and her caregivers. Her legacy of Christian faith lives on
in her family. God is faithful!
Funeral services will be at 11:00 AM on Saturday, October 26, 2013, at
Trinity Lutheran Church, 501 Stewart Ave., Wausau. Rev. Gary Schultz will
officiate. Burial will be in Pine Grove Cemetery on Grand Av. Visitation
will precede the funeral beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Because Charlotte highly valued Christian education, memorials will be
directed to Trinity Lutheran School Educational Grant Fund.
You may sign the family guestbook at www.helke.com.