Barbara Ann Kuehl,
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
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
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