Loraine Kopke, age 88, of Oregon, passed away on Monday, March 4, 2013. Loraine may have been short of stature, but she made up for it in energy.
On March 3, 1925, she became one of eight children born to Robert and Annetta (Nielsen) Wealti on a dairy farm near Belleville. She and her sisters; Nita, Elaine and Arlene, would polka and yodel as they did their chores of milking the cows. Her love for cows would continue throughout her life.
During WWII, she worked as Rosey the Riveter in Rockford making airplane wings for bombers. During that time she met Merle Kopke at a dance. A sailor in the Navy; his jovial spirit won her heart. After the war they married and began a way of life on the farm raising cows, crops, and kids. After many years of renting, they bought their farm on Sand Hill Road near Oregon in 1965. Their children always seemed to have a friend or cousin that needed a place to stay; and they were always welcomed at the Kopke farm. Loraine would always have enough food cooking on the stove to welcome in an unexpected guest and make room at the table if someone showed up at meal time. After the evening meal, a deck of cards would appear and a serious game of Euchre would begin.
Farming was a tough way to make a living, so after the morning milking and in order to supplement their income; Loraine would drive to Madison where she worked as a baker for St. Mary’s Hospital for 25 years. She also used her baking skills and artistic talent to make specialty cakes on the side many of which became beautiful masterpieces almost too nice to cut and eat. Never one to be short on words, she would converse with friends and strangers alike. After all, a stranger was just a friend that she hadn’t yet met. She felt the obligation to serve in the community serving on the PTA when her kids were in school and later on The Woman’s Auxiliary of the VFW as well as baking birthday cakes for those in the nursing home.
Although Merle became disabled due to a stroke in 1980, she continued to milk the cows for another six years, before selling the herd. She loved flowers and the farm became a botanical garden. Loraine enjoyed travelling; one of her highlights was going with her sister Arlene to Switzerland to visit the area that her grandfather was from.
Loraine was preceded in death by her parents; husband; brothers, Bobby, Ray, and Dick; sister, Nita Newton; as well as an infant daughter. She will be missed by everyone with whom she shared her smile, stories and laughter.
She is survived by her brother, Lyle (Ann) Wealti; sisters, Elaine (Vern) Klosterman, and Arlene Scholl; sister-in-law, Alice Wealti; children, Annetta Powell, Ron (Rita) Kopke, Rita (Ralph) Ranieri, Gordy (Anna) Kopke, Merlane (Tom) Keller, and Bonnie Kopke; grandchildren, Liz, Kathy, Clayton, Joe, Melissa, Josh and Jason; great-grandchildren, Taylor and Libby; as well as her special friend and sister of the heart, Arlene Spink.
Her hoe may now be put to rest, but her life’s garden continues to bloom. The family would like to give a special thank you to her farm hand, Rory Hardy, and to the friendly staff of Sienna Meadows Alzheimer’s care facility for making her last two years comfortable.
Funeral services will be held on at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 625 E. Netherwood, Oregon, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 9, 2013. She will then take her last ride down Sand Hill Rd., past her farm to join Merle at the Town of Dunn Burying Ground. Visitation will be held at Gunderson Oregon Funeral Home, 1150 Park St., Oregon, from 4:00 until 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2013, as well as from 10 a.m. until the time of service at the church on Saturday.
A celebration of her life will be at St. John’s Church after the burial. In lieu of flowers, Loraine would have appreciated your donation to the VFW Oregon-Brooklyn Post #10272.
Online condolences may be made at gundersonfh.com.
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