On July 18 Charlotte Strehlow celebrated her 104th birthday at Bell Tower Residence where she has resided for two years. She was born in Nebraska and grew up with three sisters and three brothers. She is the only surviving sibling. Her father was a minister and served in Nebraska for more than 19 years. Charlotte’s father had two congregations and during WWI one of his church buildings was marked with a yellow mark. This was done to show everyone that he was a German. A friend of the family encouraged the townspeople to leave him alone as he was just preaching and not involved in the conflict.
“Winters were bad in Nebraska,” Charlotte remembers. “The farmers had to tie ropes from the house to the barn so they could find their way back and forth during the bad storms while caring for the livestock.” She remembers her friend Robinette who was a neighbor and had a horse. She would stop and pick up Charlotte and they would ride her horse to school. “Robinette got Spinal Meningitis and I remember sitting at her bedside the night she died. I still think about her. My family was worried that I might catch it.”
Charlotte’s father received a call from the LaCrosse area and moved to Wisconsin to be closer to his wife’s family. After Charlotte graduated from high school in 1928 they moved to the Wausau area where her father preached. “Our family was very musical and my brother Gerhardt started an orchestra in the church. I played the violin and we would perform around the area at different church mission festivals. There are eight pastors in our family and I’m very proud of my Uncle Paul Mayerhoff who was a minister in the late 1800’s on the Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona. He became very well liked there during a difficult era and wrote many books about his experiences. After graduation I wanted to go on to school for clothes design. There were no schools in the area so I had to satisfy myself with just designing and sewing my own clothes. My parents were very strict because we had to set a good example for the rest of the congregation but I didn’t mind. We were taught to put our trust in the Lord and I think that is my secret for such a long life.”
Charlotte married Bill Strehlow and they had one son, Gerry. They purchased the Strehlow home farm north of Wausau from his many brothers and sisters. There are no more cows or crops being planted on the farm but her grandson still lives in the home Charlotte, Bill and Gerry built. Charlotte has been a member of Grace Lutheran Church for 90 years.
Charlotte loved to work in her flower gardens and was very good at arranging bouquets. She sang in the church choir for many years and sang in the very first Wausau choir. Charlotte has three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren who live in the area.
“I’m happy that I can still sew, I don’t like to be idle. I enjoy watching the Millionaire and I still can answer some of the questions!”
Bell Tower Residence Assisted Living, a corporate sponsored ministry of the Holy Cross Sisters, has been providing living opportunities to the elderly for more than 21 years.
For more information call 715-536-5575 or visit our website at www.belltowerresidence.org.