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Gretchen Alice (Kreager) Nienow left this earth early Monday morning, January 22, 2024 to be welcomed home by her Lord and Savior and all her family that had preceded her. She would be the first to say that her 93 years of life were filled with blessings beyond her imagination.
She was born the youngest of seven children, to Jesse Kent Kreager and Ernest Kreager on December 2, 1930. She lost her mother at the age of 12 and her father when she was 14. She was raised by her brothers Charles, Walter (George), John, Milton (Spike), Thomas Kreager, and sister Ruth Janz, all who preceded her in death.
Gretchen spent all but a few years on the family farm in the town of Hewitt where she and John farmed the family farm for over 55 years. Though she only graduated from 8th grade and often wished that she could have gone on to high school, she was wise beyond her years and often shared her unique words of wisdom!
On July 2, 1949, she married John Albert Nienow. The wedding dinner was held in the front yard of the family farm. She often spoke of how the morning of her wedding she went to buy the food served that day not knowing anything about planning a wedding dinner. She and John celebrated 61 years of marriage raising eight children; Marjorie (Wayne) Viergutz, Ellen (David) Hussong, Nancy (Walter) Borchardt, Christine Lerch, LaDonna (David) Fermanich, Becky (Michael) Faehling, Robert (Lisa) Nienow and one daughter-in-law, Ruthie (Bill) Scudder. Their son Ernest died in an auto accident when he was 20 years old.
Gretchen is survived by 19 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren and 10 great great-grandchildren. As the last “Aunt” on both the Kreager and Nienow sides of the family, she also leaves behind many special nieces and nephews. She treasured each of them and they all carry such amazing stories in their hearts of time spent with her.
Her early upbringing served as a foundation for her ability to deal with adversity. She and John endured many more in their years together, but always looked for the blessings amidst the trials. Their strong faith served them well throughout their years together and continued throughout both of their lifetimes. This strong faith, love of family and the farm were deeply engrained in their children and will serve as an ongoing testimony of their “seed, plant, harvest” way of life!
Gretchen was a friend to many, but above all else, she was the most wonderful devoted mother, and she often said her children were her bouquet of roses.
She understood that God is the creator and provider of all things and during the hardest trials and sorrows she understood that God would provide her with comfort and strength. She had the gift of hospitality, wisdom, and wit. Anyone who dropped in at the farm was welcomed and fed, and because of her large and extended family there was always someone stopping by. The kitchen table was where we gathered to celebrate life and laughter was the music of her home.
Gretchen spent her last years reading, embroidering, spending time with her kids, and playing cards. She was lovingly cared for during the final years by her daughter Marj and son-in-law Wayne. She and Wayne were fierce card playing competitors and they daily met for games of Sequence and rummy. She taught the whole family how to play rummy and said she was so thankful to spend these last years having such fun with her kids.
Her last few weeks were a struggle for her and her family, for we never wanted to say good-bye. She obliged us by giving us one last long good-bye as we sat by her bedside. She left us with joy and humor in the midst of our tears and we will praise God forever for the gift of such a humble, wise, beautiful mother.
Funeral services will be held at Zion Lutheran Church 238145, Star Road, Aniwa, WI, on Saturday, January 27 at 11:00 am. Visitation will take place at the church on Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 pm and again starting at 9:30 am on Saturday prior to the service. Pastor Ryan Fehrmann will officiate.
Memorials can be directed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Zion Ladies Aid LWML.
Thank you to Wausau Manor and Hospice Services for the care of Gretchen during her last few days.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.petersonkraemer.com