Gregory E. Cline, 78

Gregory E. Cline, 78, of Cedarburg passed into the arms of his Savior in the early hours of Jan. 25, in Hospice care at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee, Mequon, surrounded by his loving family.

Greg succumbed to the complications of lung cancer after months of a courageous struggle.

Born in Milwaukee to Ida and John T. Cline, Greg was a lifelong entrepreneur, developer and proud Realtor who never retired, but he will be best remembered as a generous family man and friend.

He was a teenager when he met and fell in love with his future wife of 59 years, Helen “Dolly” Guarascio. Their love never diminished but grew with them.

Greg was still a teenager when he joined the Army. The hot war in Korea was winding down, but the Cold War with the Soviet Union in Europe was always ready to boil over. Greg was sent to Germany. A constant stream of airmail to and from Helen followed.

Back in the states after his tour, Helen and Greg eloped and moved together to Greg’s new duty station in California. That triggered an epic, meandering journey by car across the country by Dolly’s parents, the late Louis “GiGi” and Helen Guarascio, and Helen’s three sisters, Mary Lou “Lulu,” Jane and Joan. Greg soon became a beloved son and brother to the family.

After returning to Racine, Greg began his career in construction and soon branched out as a real estate developer. He and Helen had two children, Todd and Sheri, and Greg was their most ardent champion and they were his source of greatest joy.

Greg, regardless of the circumstances, was always optimistic, always upbeat, always ready with a corny joke, always ready to take on the next challenge. A loving husband, son, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend to all, Greg was always there when anyone he loved or even knew needed him.

Greg was a rock who helped anchor his extended family, which included the Guarascios and Helen’s sisters’ families, the Sorensons, the Illmans and the Semples.

Nieces and nephews loved him unabashedly. They are Cathy and Joseph Liebfried, Debbie and John Straw, Chrystal Meisner, Mark Illman, Traci Fordham, Beth and Mark Meier, Ken J. Giese, Kristyn Blackstone and others. One niece nicknamed him “Handsome,” another called him “my Teddy Bear,” and another called him a “shining example of God’s grace in a man.” They particularly leaned on him during their growing-up years as he was a father figure to all. Greg was blessed to have a devoted son-in-law, Scott Rose and daughter-in-law, Laurie Ricchio Cline, both of whom he loved as his own children. In addition, grandchildren Megan Rose Thornburgh (and husband Tom), Adam Rose, Tony and Anna Cline, and great-grandchildren, Lillian, Oliver and Baby (due in June) Thornburgh. He loved them all; he lived for them, spoiled them and was extremely proud of them. They are his most precious legacy.

For more than six decades, Greg and Helen Cline shared a special song that was made popular by Nat King Cole when they first met and fell in love. They played it for guests at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration and reminisced about it in Greg’s last days:

They try to tell us we’re too young
Too young to really be in love
say that love’s a word
A word we’ve only heard
But can’t begin to know
the meaning of
And yet we’re not too
young to know
This love will last though years may go
And then some day they may recall
We were not too young at all

Greg is survived by his wife Helen, children Todd (Laurie) Cline and Sheri (Scott) Rose; grandchildren Megan Rose Thornburgh, Adam Rose and Tony and Anna Cline; great-grandchildren Lillian, Oliver and Baby Thornburgh; siblings Jacqueline Cabot, Sandra Apps, Michael Cline and Kay Yates; and sisters-in-law Mary Lou (Louis) Sorensen, Jane (Ronald) Semple and Joan (Carl) Illman; nieces and nephews; his morning coffee club; and countless friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents The family would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Puffer, Dr. “G,” Peggy, and the entire Oncology and Radiation teams at the Columbia St. Mary’s Cancer care unit, as well as the caring staff at Horizon Hospice.

A mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at St. Joseph Parish, 1619 Washington St., Grafton, WI 53024 on Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015. Visitation will be at the church from 10 a.m. until noon. A mass will be held at noon.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Joseph Parish, Grafton, or Horizon Hospice St. Mary Ozaukee, Mequon.