Marlene S. (Pankow) Fechtner, age 74, died Thursday, December 8, 2016 at Good Samaritan Hospital, Merrill, WI.
Marlene was born May 5, 1942 in Merrill, WI to Ruth (Lemke) and Leslie Pankow and was raised in the Town of Pine River. Marlene graduated Merrill High School in 1960. After graduating from Lincoln County Normal Teacher’s School in 1962 she began teaching in a one room schoolhouse in Marathon City.
In 1964 she met the love of her life, Donald W. Fechtner, at Vern & Lindy’s Bar in Merrill, WI. Their love story began with Don dropping 2 dimes which ended up in Marlene’s shoe and the story is that he had to marry her to get his dimes back. In 1965 Marlene moved out to California were Don was stationed in the U.S. Navy. On September 18, 1965 they were married in Imperial Beach, CA by Pastor Rusch, originally of Lincoln County, WI. This year they celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary.
Marlene loved to tell the story about how in January 1967 they attended a Green Bay Packer football game in California which years later became the 1st Super Bowl. For the next 10 years, Marlene took great pride in being a Navy wife living in California and New Jersey before returning to Merrill in 1973. She later worked as a cook and waitress at Champ’s Restaurant and the Eagle’s Club for many years. She also worked with her husband at Lincoln County Abstract for many years.
She really enjoyed cooking and baking for parties with friends. The occasion did not matter—a birthday, anniversary, retirement, the adoption of a cat, a funeral for a truck, a baseball team party, for the holidays, or in support of Special Olympics, she was right there ready to make whatever was needed. She enjoyed going to Hodag, trips to see her grandchildren in Missouri, trips for the USS Southerland Navy Reunions, visits to the camper, Zimpel family reunions, and times spent with her step-great-grandchildren. She loved to do jigsaw puzzles, gardening, the Packers, Badgers, and the Merrill Bluejays. Every year she baked cookies and bread to give to family and friends as her Christmas gifts from the heart.
Over the years Marlene was very proud of the fact that her and Don became known as “Ma and Pa” to the majority of their children’s friends and years later even their children. Having many ‘adopted’ sons, daughters, and grandchildren was a joy in her life as those people always remembered “Ma and Pa.”
Marlene is survived by her husband, Don; children, Lesley (David) Schopper, Pat (Dawnn Zettler) Fechtner and Candy Fechtner; grandchildren, Brittany Schopper and Dylan Schopper; step grandchildren, CiJi (Tyler) Becker, Mitch (Kyla) Becker and Jon (Amie) Becker; step great-grandchildren, Avah, Wyatt, Demi, Lydia and Daxon.
Marlene is also survived by brother-in-law, Roger Kunkel; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Steve and Bonnie Fechtner; nephews, Kalen Kunkel and Kevin (Cindy) Kunkel; nieces, Tina (Joel) Loomis and Tricia (Tom) Blum; step nephews, Levi Laine and Bruce Laine; step nieces Evelyn Laine and Melody Laine; uncle, Elroy Lemke; her best friend, Elaine Riesinger; and many cousins.
Marlene was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Nancy Kunkel; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Michael and Faye Fechtner; and grandson, Deven Schopper.
Private family services will be held at a later time. Taylor-Stine Funeral Home & Cremation Services is assisting the family with arrangements.
Online condolences may be made at www.taylorstinefuneralhome.com