Marvin E. Zellmer
Sept. 20, 1926 — Nov. 20, 2016

Marvin E. Zellmer, 90 years young, was reunited with his wife and best friend on November 20, 2016. Although a wonderful husband, father, brother and friend has departed this earth, it is the life he lived from 1926 and 2016 that is most significant and noteworthy. Marv was born on September 20, 1926, the eldest son of Edward and Wanda (Glor) Zellmer. He was proud of his German heritage and early on learned about the benefits of hard work. He was educated in a one-room school house and like many young boys, he had a paper route. He used part of his earnings to purchase the suit he wore for his confirmation. He spent summers on family farms in northeastern Wisconsin where he no doubt acquired his lifelong love of the land. As a young boy, he also met the gal that he would eventually marry and love the rest of his life.

In 1943, Marv joined the United States Navy where he served in the European and Pacific theaters during and after World War II. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, he was aboard a Landing Ship — Tank (LST) transporting soldiers, tanks and supplies to Omaha Beach at Normandy. In the South Pacific he was assigned to Naval Air Station Agana on the Island of Guam in the Mariana Islands and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. After the war, he once again found himself on the high seas, assisting in operations to return Japanese civilian farmers to Okinawa from the Pacific islands once occupied by the Japanese.

Marv was very proud of his Navy service and his family shared that pride. His service to the country he loved and the immigrant legacy of his parents and grandparents were testament to his lifelong dedication to “Duty, Honor, and Country.”

In 1950, he married Bertha “Bette” Friedrich, the love of his life. During their 55 years of marriage, they were blessed with three daughters. Along with his wife, they were strong supporters of public education and believed that a quality education was a pathway towards a successful future. This prompted them to save money so their daughters would be able to attend college and graduate debt free.

In 1983 a son-in-law, Timothy Burke, was welcomed into the family with open arms. Marv was especially proud of Tim’s 20 years of Army service, as was the rest of the family. When his grandson, Samuel Hunter was born in 1996, he accepted his new role as Opa with great pride and endless joy!

Marv spent most of his career in the roofing trade where he literally climbed the ladder of success. He served as the president of Roofers Local 65 and later as the estimator for Winding Roofing Company. A good friend once said, “Marv clearly walked the line of respect for his superiors, while at the same time taking pride in and supporting his Union workers.” He retired in 1987, and when asked what he planned to do next his response was always, “I’m going to make sawdust.” It was in that process that he created beautiful pieces of heirloom furniture for his daughters, wooden toys and handcrafted items that were given as gifts or donated to his church.

Marv and Bette loved nature, and in their later years purchased a piece of land near Dodgeville where they could enjoy God’s creation at will. Eventually Marv used the wood from a collapsed barn to build a year-round cabin at their “Uplands.” Once on a two-week solo stay at the cabin, he bought every daffodil bulb in what was probably a three-county area and carefully planted each bulb along a pathway in their woods. He kept this romantic gift a secret until the next spring when they made their first trip to the woods and Bette found hundreds of her favorite daffodils in bloom.

We have no doubt that on Sunday, November 20, 2016, Marv was joyously reunited with his wife. Although there is great sadness in our hearts because we will miss our father, Opa, brother and friend, we know we will always carry his memory, and that of our mother, deep within our hearts.

Marvin is survived by his three daughters, Connie Zellmer, Linda Zellmer and Beth Zellmer-Burke; his son-in-law, Maj. Timothy Burke, U.S. Army retired; a grandson, Samuel Hunter; his sister, Barbara (Robert) Bubolz; and other family members and friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Bette; his parents; and his brother and sister, Leroy and Shirley.

A celebration of life with full military honors will be held today, December 1, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 145 E. Lisbon Road, Oconomowoc. Visitation with the family will be from 9:30 am until the time of the memorial service at 11:30 am. He will be buried alongside his wife at St. Luke’s Cemetery, Ixonia, in a private service.

Memorials will be divided between Marv’s favorite Oconomowoc charities.

Schmidt & Bartelt Notbohm-Kreutzmann Funeral and Cremation Services is serving the family. For more information, call 262-567-4459 or visit online at