And the end has come

For those of you who read this post, What do you do when the unexpected happens? about my Mom’s fall or followed the dialog on Facebook or Google+, Mom died at 7:30pm on July 8 at the age of 84. Today is the visitation and tomorrow the funeral or as I called it, the celebration of her life.

Thank you to all of you who have talked to me or my brother, Andy, on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ or called or e-mailed. I think we are both at peace with her death.

The rainbow

This morning when I looked out my office window, the rainbow above greeted me. There was no rain just a glorious rainbow. I have never ever seen a rainbow from that window before and I have never seen one when there was no rain. Remembering why God gave the rainbow to Noah as a promise, I saw it as such for me.

I wrote Mom’s obituary and I would like to share it here with you:

Marion Ione Plath, 84, died Friday, July 8, 2011 at Aspirus Wausau Hospital from complications from a fall on June 28 at her home. Marion Plath was born Marion Ione Werner on March 12, 1927 to Julius and Lydia Werner in Wausau, Wisconsin. Lydia was 43 when Marion was born. Marion joined her sisters, Viola (Werner) Behling, Hildegard (Werner) Birk,  and Berdina Rice. As her sisters were starting their own families as Marion was growing up, Marion was surrounded by nephews and nieces throughout her early years in life.

Marion married Robert Plath on August 13, 1955. They had one daughter, Julie (Bill) Walraven and one son, Andrew Plath within the first years of their marriage. Extended family was always important to Marion and she was born in the same house on South Fourth Avenue and never moved during her 84 years of life. Lydia lived in the lower apartment until her death in 1979 where Marion cared for her in later years.

In her youth, Marion was an active member of the Trinity Lutheran Walther League, traveling to national conferences throughout the United States, snapping photos with her little Brownie camera and creating scrapbooks to detail her trips.


Marion loved music and singing. She even invested her time into voice lessons so that she could share her gifts as a soloist at many weddings, funerals, and she was also an active member of the Trinity Lutheran Sanctuary Choir until her children were born.


She loved gardening and at one point, even entered her gladiolas at the Wisconsin Valley Fair. Even this year just days before the sudden accident that led to her death, she was still out in the yard planting flowers and weeding her many flower beds.


Marion spent most of her career as a secretary for what is now Thrivent Financial, formerly AAL Insurance. She served as the office manager and grew to be a strong support system for the general agent, Ernst Heinecke and what her children called, “the men.” The agents and their families also became part of her extended family and built lifelong relationships.


Marion gathered friends and kept them for years. Early in life, she worked for the H.C. Phillips Company and for years after she left, she gathered with a group of 6 to 8 women for monthly “club” meetings. She did the same with her coworker and two other friends who worked in the same complex as the Thrivent location, dubbing that group the “4 Squares.” She also bonded with early friends from Trinity, in the “Trinity Friends” group that met periodically and was made up of grade school friends.

Reading and writing

She shared her love of reading and writing with both Julie and Andrew and transferred all her creative pursuits to interests that later became big parts of her children’s lives. A regular for years at the Marathon County Public Library, Marion kept a huge binder listing all the books she read, organized by author, and detailing all of the titles so she could track what she read. She also believed in the fine art of letter writing and wrote many hand-written letters throughout her life to friends and family.


Marion is survived by her children, Julie and Andrew, her grandchildren, Tim and Dan Walraven, all of Wausau, her niece, Judy (Robert) Johnson, La Crosse, and her sister-in-law, Mary Lou (Harry) Feirer, as well as many other extended family members and friends. Marion was preceded in death by her parents Julius and Lydia, her husband, Robert in 2007, and her sisters, Viola, Hildegarde, and Berdina.

A celebration of her life will be at 11am on Friday, July 15 at Trinity Lutheran Church on Stewart Avenue, Wausau. Visitation will be at the Helke Funeral Home, Wausau, on Thursday, July 14 from 4pm to 7pm and from 10am until time of services on Friday, July 15 at the church. Reverend Gary Schultz will officiate. Burial will be at Pine Grove Cemetery Wausau. Memorials may be directed to Trinity Lutheran Church. Online condolences may be expressed at


For today, this is enough. Thank you again for all of you who have cared. It means so much to all of us.


  1. Kim Woodbridge on July 14, 2011 at 7:31 am

    What a beautiful rainbow and how strange to see one without rain. It sounds like your mother had a full and rich life and will be missed. My thoughts will be with you during the celebration of her life.

    • Julie Walraven on July 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      Thank you so much, Kim. She will be missed but yes, it was full and rich and she went the way she wanted to – no extended period on tubes or life support and no nursing homes. We would never wished her to end her life with a fall like that but at least her suffering is now over.

  2. Barb Poole on July 14, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Your seeing that gorgeous rainbow without a prior rain, from a view unprecedented and at this time, gave me goose bumps. Your tribute to your mother is beautiful–she sounds like quite a lady! I love that you see this as a celebration of her life; and that you shared with others some of those special things about your mom. I am sorry for your loss, Julie. And will be thinking of you as you celebrate your mother’s life, but mourn her passing.

    • Julie Walraven on July 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      As I said to Kim, she will be missed but I know she is at peace now and with Jesus so we know that she is in a much better place. Thanks, Barb.

  3. Davina Haisell on July 17, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Julie, That is a very beautiful rainbow.

    This is the first I’ve heard of your mother’s passing and I want to say that my thoughts are with you. She has definitely lived a very full and rewarding life. Hugs to you.

    • Julie Walraven on July 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      Thank you for the thoughts, Davina. It was hard to know what to say where but it seemed like my friends like you on social media should know. Thanks for the hugs.

  4. Anne-Marie Ditta on July 20, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Julie, my condolences on the loss of your mother. What a beautiful tribute for a life well lived. I pray that you will continue to take comfort in your memories of her and find strength in God.

    • Julie Walraven on July 21, 2011 at 4:46 am

      Thanks, Anne, when I wrote it, I just wanted to capture some of the things that made her special but many people at the service were glad that they too were included.

  5. Terry Del Percio on July 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Dear Julie: I’m so sorry for your loss and so impressed with your thoughtfulness and strength. You wrote a wonderful tribute to her and I’m sure she is extremely proud of you. As I tell people about the loss of my mom 21 years ago…she has only become a deeper part of me as the years go on. Love comes in many forms and it can become deeper than we can ever realize. Love to you and your family.

    • Julie Walraven on July 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind thoughts, Terry. It has been a strange journey during the past month. Some of it doesn’t quite seem real yet.

  6. Robyn Greenspan on July 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Julie, my deepest sympathy to you and your family. You painted a beautiful picture of your mother and a fulfilling life. Thank you for allowing me to know a bit about her through you.

    May your memories bring you comfort.

    • Julie Walraven on August 6, 2011 at 8:29 am

      Thank you, Robin. I appreciate it.

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