Barbara Ann Kuehl, 72


Barbara Ann Kuehl, nee Baldwin, was born to eternal life on Jan. 3, 2014. She was 72 and a resident of West Bend since 1975. Though her health had been failing for some years, her death came unexpectedly from complications due to a fall. She was taken to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, where attempts to revive her failed.

Barbara Ann Baldwin was born in Milwaukee on Feb. 18, 1941, to Irene and Patrick Baldwin. She was the second of four daughters. Her early childhood rivalry with her sister, Patricia, grew into a lifelong friendship. As teenagers, they would sneak out to go dancing at the Eagles Club.

Barbara met her future husband while she was attending Rufus King High School. She had been on a date with a friend of Gerald Kuehl. Jerry asked her out afterward. They dated throughout high school. Jerry converted to Lutheranism in anticipation of their marriage and Barbara’s father, Patrick, decided to convert at the same time. They took classes together and Barbara would join them afterward. Barbara and Jerry were married on May 20, 1961.

Shortly after they were married, Barbara’s father died and the young couple moved into a duplex that housed the young couple on one side and the bride’s family on the other. Soon after, Jerry would take a job with Carnation that would take them to Iowa. By this time, they had three children and the constant relocations that were demanded by his job were tough on the young family, so they moved back to Wisconsin. They first settled in Grafton, where they welcomed two more children into the world. As they needed more space, they built their dream house in West Bend.

Once the children were all in school, Barbara took a job at a dry cleaner in West Bend. She had previously worked at a bakery and then she worked on and off as a secretary. This position led to another as manager at the One Hour Martinizing in Grafton. After working there for several years, Barbara and Jerry bought the dry cleaner, which they renamed Quality Drycleaners, and which they eventually relocated to the old post office building.

While working at the dry cleaner, Barbara formed many close friendships with her customers. She was devoted to being the best dry cleaner in the business and took great pride in her ability to remove difficult stains. She became a trusted resource for many in Grafton.

As a child, she had dreamt of becoming a missionary, a dream she gave up to become a wife and mother. Barbara did her best to touch the lives of others she came into contact everyday at her dry cleaners through simple acts of kindness. After years of service and as Barbara’s health began to deteriorate, Barbara and Jerry made the difficult decision to close the cleaners. Barbara spent her last year quietly in retirement in the home they shared together for so many years. Later in life, she enjoyed reading the novels of Jan Karon, doing the daily crossword puzzle, jigsaw puzzles and playing scrabble. She was also an avid fan of the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers.

Her spirit and the legacy she leaves behind is best summed up by the words of Tennyson, “Though much is taken, much abides; and though / We are not now that strength which in old days / Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Barbara is survived by her husband, Jerry; her daughter Ann Thompson and son-in-law Bruk of West Bend; her son Patick Kuehl and daughter-in-law Susan of Sherwood; and her daughter Susan Kuehl of Sheboygan Falls, her son Jeffrey Kuehl of West Bend and daughter Kristin Kuehl of Brooklyn, N.Y. She is also survived by all of her grandchildren, who brought great joy to her life: Gunnar Thompson, Tannar Thompson, Kelly Kuehl, Natalie Kuehl, Abby Kuehl and Bennett Horton. She is also survived by her loving sister Patricia Brown and brotherin- law Dr. Dwight Brown of Oconomowoc and her loving sister Paula Baldwin of West Bend. She is further survived by sister-in-law Virginia Hermes, brother-in-law Eugene Kuehl and sister- in-law Judi Kuehl of Green Bay, and sister-in-law Kathleen Riemer of Chowchilla, Calif. She has numerous nieces and nephews in Wisconsin and California.

She was preceded in death by her sister Pamela Peterson, nephew Bradley Brown, brother-in-law Les Riemer and brother-in-law Duane Hermes.

The family will have a private memorial service to be held in Mequon on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Arrangements are provided by Phillip Funeral Home, West Bend, and condolences may be left online at www.phillipfuneralhome.com.