Kathryn M. Gurtner Riffel, 84
June 13, 1930 -- May 18, 2015
Kathryn (Kathy) M. Gurtner Riffel (nee Bernhagen), age 84, was called home to heaven on May 18, 2015. She was surrounded by her family and passed peacefully at Autumn Oaks in Slinger after bravely fighting a five-year battle with multiple myeloma and a three-year battle with dementia. She handled everything with grace and dignity and stayed her sweet, gracious, giving self right up to the very end.
Born to Ethel (nee Dean) and Carl E. Bernhagen on June 13, 1930. (Which was a Friday the 13th!) She reversed this superstition and lived a very happy and blessed life and was surrounded by love. Her father Carl passed when she was 10 years old. Later, Alvin Bernhagen became her wonderful stepfather who loved her very much. Kathy’s mother Ethel passed in 1964.
Kathy lived in West Bend her entire live and loved the city. She graduated from West Bend High School and went to work at Gehl Co. After some time, she took on various residential cleaning jobs and eventually went to work for the West Bend Daily News where she made many friends.
She married Ray Gurtner in August 1951. They had three wonderful daughters (Susan, Barbara and Jayne) and was often heard saying “My daughters are my treasures.”
She then married Christ Riffel on March 30, 1967. They just celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary with friends and family.
Kathy is survived by her husband, Christ; daughters, Susan (Brian J.) Becker, Barbara (Robert) Swanson and Jayne (Richard) Hughes; and sister-in-law, Patricia (Carl) Bernhagen. She is further survived by grandchildren, Misti (Nicholas) Dobberstein, Stephanie (Peter) Poree, Katie (Nicholas) Swanson, Sarah (Michael) Schmitz, Erika (Peter) Herriges, Brian G. Becker, Lauren (Raymond) Wallner, Parker Hughes and Gracie Hughes.
Kathy is also survived by 12 great-grandchildren; her cousin, Ronald and his wife Lois Schlosser (who were both like siblings to her); and lifelong friend, Sharon Clark, as well as many more family and friends.
The family grew in size but always stayed close, even renting halls to all be together on holidays.
Kathy is preceded in death by her parents and stepfather, and her only sibling, Carl Bernhagen.
We will celebrate Kathy’s life on Tuesday, May 26, at Phillip Funeral Home 1420 W. Paradise Drive in West Bend from 4-6 p.m. with a brief service beginning at 6 p.m. A light luncheon will follow. Family and friends are welcome to come celebrate her life with us.
In Lieu of flowers, memorials to Autumn Oaks (229 E. Washington St., Slinger, WI 53086) or to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.act.alz.org) would be appreciated.
The family would like to express their gratitude for the excellent care she received at Autumn Oaks, where they treat everyone like family, with special thanks to Mike and Grace. We also want to thank Seasons Hospice for helping Kathy and her family on her final journey.
The Phillip Funeral Home of West Bend is assisting the family: 262-338-2050 or online at www.phillipfuneralhome.com.