Lucille Louise (Koehl) Wilcox
Lucille Louise (Koehl) Wilcox of Onalaska, Wisconsin, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019.
She is survived by five children, David (Carol) Wilcox, Linda (Thomas) Arlt, Richard “RJ” (Sandra) Wilcox, Patricia (Robert) Krarup, and Nancy (Corey) Ramquist; nine grandchildren, Michael (Julia) Wilcox, Rebecca (Daniel) Davenport, Nicholas (Mary) Arlt, Russell (Julie) Wilcox, Allison (Jason) Suchon, Lee Krarup, Lane (Angel) Krarup, Roxanne (Luke) Dowske, and Jacqueline Ramquist; eight great-grandchildren, Andrew, Jordan, Jaden, Jack, Victoria, Samantha, Zoey, and Jewel; a brother, Fred Koehl; and a sister, Henrietta (Richard) Kistner.
Lucille was born in Darien, Wisconsin, on March 17th, 1925, to Fred and Louise (Heckel) Koehl. She grew up working on the family’s dairy farm. She developed a love of reading at an early age, played the piano, and participated in many clubs and organizations throughout grade school and high school. She graduated as salutatorian from Darien High School in 1943 and earned a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The move from Darien to college life in Madison was a big change for Lucille, but she loved the experience. She was active in student life, including serving as the president of the Xi chapter of the Phi Beta National Professional Fraternity of Speech and Music. During the summer before her final year of college, she followed her interest in radio journalism and got a job at WCLO, a Janesville, Wisconsin, radio station. In 1947, Lucille graduated from UW-Madison with degrees in Speech and English, and returned to her job at WCLO.
While at UW-Madison, she met Ralph Wilcox, who had enrolled in the university through the GI Bill after being honorably discharged from the Navy at the end of WWII. The two fell in love and wed on September 6th, 1947. The pair enjoyed an active social life, playing Bridge with friends and joining a square-dancing group. They had four children in five years and also welcomed Lucille’s niece, Marilyn (Sheahan) Thompson, into their home. In 1957, the family relocated to Monroe, Wisconsin, and celebrated the birth of a fifth child.
When her two oldest children were reaching college age, Lucille decided to go back to school to get a teaching certificate from the Normal School. But after teaching sixth grade for just one year, she decided that teaching was not for her. The family then moved to Beloit, Wisconsin, where Lucille went back to a career in radio. For 10 years, she worked part-time as a traffic manager and copywriter at the WBEL radio station.
Lucille and Ralph eventually settled in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Lucille began attending technical school with the intention of getting a new job in radio, but put those plans on hold in order to care for Ralph’s mother. She also started working as a secretary at St. Pius X Catholic Church where she and Ralph were parishioners. That is when Lucille decided to follow her heart and return to school again, enrolling at Viterbo University in La Crosse and earning a degree in Ministry. She put her new degree to use by directing a program with Causeway Caregivers that helps the elderly and people with disabilities through an ecumenical sharing program. After being sidelined for a short time following heart surgery, Lucille accepted a new position, serving as chaplain for the Visiting Nurses Hospice program until her retirement.
Retirement did not slow Lucille down. She continued actively volunteering as a prayer leader for communion services at Bethany Riverside care center, leading ecumenical services at Alterra Assisted Living, and bringing communion to residents at Hearten House in Holmen, Wisconsin.
Anyone who knew Lucille recognized what a talented cook and baker she was. She always had homemade pies, bars or cookies on hand, just waiting for a guest to drop by, and was famous for her “grandma cookies,” light and buttery sugar cookies that her grandchildren adored. Her family always looked forward to holidays when she would make her delicious lasagna, chicken and dumplings, and raisin tarts. Lucille was also known for her green thumb, cultivating stunning gardens full of fruit and vegetables and maintaining an impressive collection of houseplants that seem to be in perpetual bloom. Since her days at UW-Madison, Lucille was a diehard Badger fan and never missed a basketball or football game on TV. She had a keen eye for fashion and enjoyed shopping, as well as the occasional trip to the casino. The entire family benefitted from her knitting skills and the cozy mittens, socks and blankets she made them.
Lucille traveled extensively. As Ralph was a jazz musician, they would attend jazz festivals throughout the country, and for many years, they spent winters in Lake Havasu, Arizona. In 1996, Lucille took a special trip with her daughter throughout Europe and to visit relatives in her parents’ hometown in Alsace-Lorraine, France.
She and Ralph moved to an independent living apartment at Eagle Crest North almost eight years ago, where they made many friends. Their family would like to thank the staff at Eagle Crest.
Lucille was preceded in death by her husband Ralph (on March 7th, 2019); her parents; sisters Elsie, Helen and Dorothy; brothers Bill and George; and niece Marilyn (Bernie) Thompson.
Funeral services will be Tuesday, July 2nd, at St Patrick’s Church in Onalaska, WI. Visitation will be from 9:30-11:00 AM. Mass will be at 11:00 AM. A luncheon will follow. A private burial will take place at another time.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Lucille’s name to St. Patrick’s Parish in Onalaska, Wisconsin, or to Causeway Caregivers.
A full obituary for Lucille can be found at www.couleecremation.com