Lorraine Clara Zahrt, 94, of Ringle, passed away on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, at Aspirus Wausau Hospital with her loving family at her side. She was born on September 24, 1923 in the town of Easton to the late Theodore (Ted) Hoppe and Olga Lambrecht Hoppe. Lorraine attended Farewell School (grades 1-6) and Zion Lutheran School (grades 7-8), both in the Town of Easton. She was confirmed in her Christian faith at Zion on June 6, 1937. Going to high school was not an option as her continued help was needed on her parent’s farm which included the hard work of weeding ginseng. This was the beginning of a lifelong passion for hard work for which she was well known. Later as a young woman of 20 she worked as a maid at the H.J. Hagge residence in Wausau who, at the time, was the president of Employers Mutual Insurance Company (later Wausau Insurance). During World War II, she supported the war effort through her work at Marathon Battery and Marathon Electric.
In March of 1946 she met Wilbert Zahrt while he was sawing lumber at the home of her sister and brother-in-law, Viola and Elmer Barthels. They soon realized their shared interest in music and started playing accordion together. Six months later they married on September 14, 1946 at Zion Lutheran Church in the town of Easton and were together for over 54 years until his passing on April 17, 2001. Lorraine and Wilbert initially lived with Lorraine’s parents until purchasing their own dairy farm on the Eau Claire River Road in 1952. In 1959, they expanded their farming operation by buying the Zahrt family farm on Chestnut Lane. They continued farming at that location until 1997 when the barn was destroyed by a powerful windstorm. In 1972, she began driving a school bus for Jelco/Laidlaw Transit bussing companies, retiring in 1997. She picked up her last job of delivering newspapers for the Wausau Daily Herald at the age of 80 during 2003 and 2004.
In March of 1972, God was gracious in helping Lorraine survive a pulmonary embolism that she developed after falling in the barn and breaking her knee cap. We were lucky to have her for another 46 years after that incident.
Lorraine loved music and was a self-taught musician, having learned to play the accordion, piano, and guitar. She often accompanied Wilbert’s band (Zahrt’s Gay Time Orchestra) all over central Wisconsin, playing polkas and waltzes for occasions of all kinds.
Lorraine also loved to travel. She experienced her very first plane flight at age 76 when she traveled to Washington D.C. and Camp David to visit her grandson Derrick who was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. She and Wilbert enjoyed visits to Trinity Bible College (North Dakota) where their daughter Marlene was a student. They also visited Marlene and her husband Joe at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia and K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Upper Michigan. Other destinations visited include Jekyll and St. Simons Islands in Georgia, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota, Buffalo Bill Museum in Wyoming, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Detroit, Andersonville Civil War Prison and Roosevelt’s Little White House in Georgia, Niagara Falls, Lawrence Welk’s childhood home in Strasburg (North Dakota), and Lincoln’s tomb and historic sites in Springfield, Illinois. Several additional trips were taken to visit family in Indiana and Tennessee.
Lorraine was never one to stay home for very long. She loved to dine out and fellowship with family. She was always up for a road trip regardless of the destination. Whether it was a big city, small town, or no town at all, she looked forward to the journey, and she could find her way around any area in Wisconsin with her keen knowledge of the geography. Some of her favorite events were the Warren’s Cranberry Fest, the Edgar Steam Engine Show, and cherry picking in Door County. Locally, she liked to go to the Grand Theatre, the Wisconsin Valley Fair, Chalkfest, Ginseng Fest, Historical Society presentations, and various church functions. She was a long time member of St. John’s Lutheran Church (Town of Easton) and also belonged to their Ladies Aid and Senior Club.
She was a wonderful cook and hosted many holiday parties and birthday celebrations. She was a very selfless person, always putting others first. Her greatest happiness was making others happy and knowing that her family was happy. She willingly and lovingly helped care for her children and grandchildren in any way she could. Her son Daniel affectionately recalls the time that she took care of him when he had a badly broken leg. Her faith motivated everything that she did in life. She had a close relationship with the Lord and prayed often for her family. Even after losing her eyesight she would say, “Even though I can’t see, I can still pray.”
Above all she dearly loved her family and enjoyed their many talents and abilities. From sporting competitions to musical talents to artistic abilities to success in the workplace, Mom was proud of each and every one of us.
She is survived by her four children: Linda Jehn Otalora, Daniel (Diane) Zahrt, Michael (Debra) Zahrt, and Marlene (Rev. Joe) Shelton.
Linda’s sons: Derrick (Sarah) Jehn and their children: Colton and Aubrie; Sarah’s daughter: Mikayla Bullman; Lance (Christina Raber) Jehn and their children: Taylor, Carson, and Easton; Mario (Shelby) Otalora and their children: Zayden and Lincoln; Dan and Diane’s son: Matthew; Diane’s children: Nicole (Jesse) Hoffman and their children: Calvin Callahan, Cedar and Harman Hoffman; Jackie (Nick) Hanke and their daughter: Lorelai; Jon Shanak; Mike and Debra’s children: Jason (Nicole Aukamp) and Jason’s sons: Jacob and Lucas; Kristin (Noah) Phillips and their children: Jack and Josslyn; Marlene and Joe’s children: Joseph and Adrianna.
She is further survived by brother-in-law Merlin (Joan) Zahrt. Former sons-in-law Larry Jehn and Leo Otalora, cousins, and many nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by her parents, husband, sister Viola (Elmer) Barthels, brothers-in-law: Lawrence Zahrt, Milton (Audrey) Zahrt; sisters-in-law: Hertha (Karl) Peters, Velma (Ervin) Runzheimer, Zelta (Henry) Schlund, Verna (Walter) Schlund, Marjorie Zahrt, Ardelle Zahrt, and niece Lois Runzheimer.
Also predeceased by her lifelong best friend Verna (Kluender) Borman.
A funeral service will be at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 6, 2018, at St. John Lutheran Church, town of Easton, with Rev. John Stransky officiating. Family and friends may call on Thursday, April 5, beginning at 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at the church and again on Friday beginning at 10:00 a.m. until the time of service. Burial will be in St. John Lutheran Cemetery, town of Easton.
You may sign the family guestbook at www.helke.com.
Memorials are preferred to St. John Lutheran Church, town of Easton.