December 11, 2020
Whitewater, WI - Ruth (Sidona) Klemke Kelling, 85, of East Troy, Wisconsin passed away on Friday, December 11th , 2020 at Fairhaven Senior Residence in Whitewater, WI after succumbing to the coronavirus and other complications.
Ruth was born on Wednesday, February 27 th , 1935 to Fred William and Evelyn Louise (Gehl) Klemke at St. Anne's Hospital in Chicago, IL. She spent her early years in Chicago before moving to Johnson Creek, graduating from Johnson Creek High School in 1952. She went on to attend Wisconsin State College at Whitewater and earned a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Education, and Mathematics in 1956. In 1958, she married her sweetheart, Frank Ferd Kelling, on Flag Day: Saturday, June 14 th , 1958 at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Johnson Creek, WI. She then earned a Master of Science Degree in Business Education in 1960 from UW-Madison. She began her career as a business education and mathematics teacher at East Troy High School, and was recognized as the youngest teacher in Walworth County, WI at the time of her hiring. Occasionally, she also taught typing at the Divine Word Seminary. After her children were born, she stayed home to raise and care for them before later substitute teaching for many years, teaching HeadStart during summer school, and working at the community child care center. At the time of her retirement in February 1994, Ruth was employed by the Village of East Troy, as
an assistant to the clerk-treasurer. Ruth took the United States Civil Service Commission examination and was deemed eligible for her skills as a typist and stenographer. When grandchildren visited, she would capture a conversation in shorthand, then amaze them by accurately repeating the conversation while looking at all those little curly lines. She was a member of St. James United Methodist Church in East Troy, WI, and, at one time, the Martha-Mary circle and visited elderly members in their homes with a partner from the circle. She loved to sew and completed countless projects for her family and household, from everyday clothes to dresses for special events, shirts, drapes, sleeping bag sheets, travel pillows, Barbie clothes and Halloween costumes. She also kept her family warm, knitting sweaters, vests, mittens, gloves, and stocking caps. She learned how to card, spin, and ply wool as a member of the Spinners and Weavers Guild, in Whitewater, WI. Ruth also lovingly knit Christmas stockings, hooded sweaters, blankets, a christening cap and gown and other projects for her grandchildren, like the pairs of white mittens she knit to go along with the book, The Mitten. She crocheted afghans for her children when they headed off to college. Later, she became part of a quilting circle and enjoyed meeting new friends in the process. She taught herself calligraphy and often hand-lettered certificates, recipe book title pages, and other projects. Annually, Frank and Ruth made Christmas ornaments for each grandchild, a combination project for the woodworker and the painter/calligrapher. In later years, she enjoyed reading, games, crafts, and the challenge of Sudoku puzzles as she tried to keep her brain sharp. With her family raised and the nest empty, Ruth doted on her pets - especially her Westies: Alex, Morley, and Sophie in turn. Hand fed, "noodling the goose," as she would say. She sure loved those little "whities." Throughout her life, Ruth often found herself in the role of caregiver. Each member of her immediate family required some level of support and care prior to their passing, followed in later years by her husband, Frank, after a series of injuries made mobility more difficult. They stuck together, through thick and thin, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Ruth is survived by her son, Christopher K. Kelling (Laurie E. Lambert) of Morrow, OH; her daughter, Renée K. Barr (Charles B. Barr) of Fort Atkinson, WI; her grandchildren Molly C. Barr of Oakdale, MN, Kate L. Barr of Madison, WI, Owen L. Kelling of Cincinnati, OH, Claire
E. Kelling of State College, PA, and Hannah E. Kelling of Lakewood, OH; her sisters-in-law Joyce Konkol of West Allis, WI and Gail Frasier of Lake Mills, WI; and many other nieces, nephews, and friends. She was survived by her husband of 62 years, Frank, by only about 48 hours. She was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Evelyn, her brother Kenneth G. Klemke, and other aunts, uncles, and friends; particularly in the Chicago area. No visitation or funeral service will be held at this time due, in part, to the current public health situation, but also her personal wishes. Ruth indicated that she would like her ashes to be placed, at an appropriate time, with her mother, father and brother in the Evergreen Cemetery in Johnson Creek, WI. In lieu of flowers, please consider: a donation in her name to an animal rescue organization or humane society; helping a neighbor; enjoying conversation with friends over a cup of coffee; remembering someones birthday with a card (and maybe a number of coins or dollar bills to match their age); eating some chocolate or other "forbidden" treat; sharing a heavy banana shake from Lauber's or simply saying hello and waving to someone watching the world from a front window or stoop. Other expressions of sympathy can be sent to her daughter, Renée (620 W. Cramer Street) who will share them with the rest of Ruth's family. Thank you to Ruth's (and Frank's) friends and neighbors in Lynndale Subdivision, who watched over them and helped in any way they could; coffee friends at the red (or green) door and McDonald's; members of the United Methodist Women's (UMW) group from St. James United Methodist Church; staff of Home Helpers of Burlington, WI; so many fellow teachers, former students, and friends in East Troy and beyond, and finally, the many thoughtful, caring and dedicated employees at the Fairhaven Senior Residence who provided care, comfort and
compassion during her stay. Though they were both fiercely independent and somewhat private individuals, Ruth and Frank always shared their appreciation for the support and assistance they received from family
members and friends. Ruth frequently asked Renée, "What would I do without you?" Well
Ruthie, now your family is asking the same question...Ruth really missed her little dog and loved "Sophie Saturdays" when the pup came to visit Fairhaven, but also knew Sophie was comfortable and suitably spoiled by "her Renée" and family. In recent months, Ruth would often say, "what a mess," as she just wanted to go back
home and "start over," but doubted if that would ever happen. While not exactly what Ruth meant, she is, once again, home.