As Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated into his second term as President of the United States, World War I dominated the headlines in 1917. It would be the year the United States joined the War which unleashed massive federal spending to produce war goods – leading to unprecedented job growth. It was during this boom that Ernst and Anastasia “Stella” (nee Peplinski) Kiekbusch welcomed a daughter, Caroline, into their East Side Milwaukee home. Caroline joined her older brother George, making the family complete. Ernst worked at Western Leather Company, while Stella stayed home to raise Caroline and George through the ups and downs that were the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Caroline had a life-long love of music – especially classical music. As a child she became accomplished on both the flute and the piano, playing in an orchestra for a time. She attended Holy Rosary Grade School and graduated from Lincoln High School. While she did not further her education, she was an avid reader and a life-long learner.
World War II found her brother, George, in the Army Air Corp, while George developed Rheumatic Fever and spent much of the War in military hospitals, many of George’s friends also served – some came home unscathed, others were injured, and a few gave their lives. Because of this, she developed a great respect for those who served in the armed forces. She had a profound admiration for FDR for his leadership of the country through the Great Depression and World War II. She became a proud, life-long Democrat – voting in every election – even if she had to pay to take a cab to the polls. George taught Caroline how to drive, but she quit driving in 1952 after, what she would describe, as “an encounter with a streetcar.” After that she took the bus, and had the routes and schedules memorized.
Caroline was a shy and introverted person. She lived with her parents and her mother’s sister, Hattie , Caroline cared for her parents until their deaths and continued to care for her aunt Hattie until she died around 1990. She continued to enjoy her music and also developed an interest in gardening.
She was not much of a traveler – only leaving Milwaukee County a hand full of times in her life. One memorable trip was to Colorado when she was young woman, making it to the top of Pike’s Peak with her group of fellow travelers. She also made several trips to visit her nephews, Dick in Indiana and Bob in the Twin Cities.
In addition to taking care of her family, she worked as an executive secretary for over 50 years. First at Schuster’s Department Store (where she was for about 30 years) then later at Globe Union, and finally at Johnson Controls (where she spent over 20 years). She had a strong work ethic and very high personal standards which made her an invaluable asset everywhere she worked.
Caroline remained an “East-Sider” her entire life, enjoying its proximity to Lake Michigan with its “natural air-conditioning”, and was a life-long member of Holy Rosary Church. When she decided to move to an independent living apartment for the elderly, it wasn’t a hard decision to select The Milwaukee Catholic Home located on Milwaukee’s East Side. When she could no longer live on her own, Caroline moved into the Catholic Home’s skilled care rooms, located adjacent to her apartment building.
Caroline was Born to Eternal Life on December. 20, 2015 at the age of 98 years. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ernst and Stella Kiekbusch, her brother, George Kiekbusch, and her nephew, Robert Kiekbusch. She is survived by a nephew, Richard (Linda) Kiekbusch, other extended relatives, and friends. The visitation and the Funeral Mass was held Tues., Dec. 22, 2015 at St. Anne Chapel at The Milwaukee Catholic Home. She was buried with her parents at Holy Cross Cemetery.
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