Elizabeth (Betty) Karlen, age 94, of Edgar passed away peacefully on February 11, 2020 at Marshfield Medical Center surrounded by family.
Betty Wilichowski was born on December 10, 1925 in the Town of Cassel and grew up in a large family on the family farm. Being the oldest daughter, she had many responsibilities taking care of siblings and helping in the home. But life had more in store for her than being a housewife. At a time when many girls in rural Wisconsin did not go to school beyond elementary grades, Betty was interested in education, and with her parents’ support, she completed high school in 1943.
Unable to attend teacher training school because of distance and expense, Betty took advantage of the opportunity to move to Milwaukee for a year, living with her aunt and uncle, and working in a battery factory. This experience brought her into contact with people of different backgrounds and lifestyles. Betty always maintained that this year in the city helped her learn to accept people as individuals without regard to race, religion or economic status. Her children agree that she was never heard to say critical things of others nor make prejudicial comments about people who were different from her.
Betty returned to central Wisconsin in 1945 and married Ray Karlen, and for 25 years, they raised six children and dairy farmed in the Town of Cassel. In 1970 they sold their farm and moved to Edgar, after which Betty was able to realize a personal dream of working in education. Until 1992 she was employed as a teacher’s aide in the Edgar Public School System. Helping students learn brought her much joy! At St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edgar, she served as Eucharistic Minister and was an active member of the parish. In her later years, after Ray passed away in 2012, she continued to maintain a warm home for others to visit, enjoying the company of friends, neighbors and her extended family.
Betty liked to bake, read, do crossword puzzles, grow flowers and vegetables in her garden, and spend time with those she cared about. She was kind, positive, curious, smart and accepting of whatever life brought her way. To her, the glass was always full. She will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Betty is survived by her brother Ruffin Wilichowski and three sisters, Virgie Mroczenski, Christine Martin (Jerome) and Sister Laverne, FSPA, along with three sisters-in-law, Mary Ann Wilichowski (Edwin), Lorraine Wilichowski (Gerald) and Irene Karlen (Norman). She is also survived by her six children, Duane Karlen (Karyn Sandelman), Jan Karlen, Denny Karlen (Barb Nowak), Suzanne (Ron) Blair, Robert Karlen (Karen), and Linda Karlen (Ed Elliott), along with nine grandchildren, Kristie Skluzacek (Matt), Robyn McCurdy (Clayton), Haanah McFadden (Phil), Kristin Solander, Julian Karlen, Tirzah Blair, Hava Blair, Ian Elliott and Corey Elliott, plus great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, extended family, friends and neighbors too numerous to mention.
She was preceded in death by her husband Ray, by her parents Frank and Lucy Wilichowski, by her brothers Aloysius, Alfred (Kathleen), Edwin, Tony (Margie), Clarence (Vangie), Art (Marjorie), David and Gerald Wilichowski, by her brother-in-law Alphonse Mroczenski, by her sister Darlene Blaskowski (John), and by her sister-in-law Dorothy Wilichowski (Ruffin).
The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Noon, Monday February 17, 2020 at St. John Catholic Church, Edgar. Rev. Thomas Huff will preside. Burial will take place at a private ceremony in the parish cemetery at a later date. Visitation will be on Monday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of services at the church. Peterson/Kraemer Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be expressed at www.petersonkraemer.com In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Circle of Joy at St. John the Baptist Church in Edgar, or to the Edgar Elementary School Library.
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