Darlene Ortin

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(nee Sadowski/Wendland) left this world on July 3, 2020 at the age of 81.

Beloved wife to Donald(passed 2019). Loving mother of Keith (Mary) Ortin, Kathy (Lee) Ward and Kim Ortin (Michael Berefsky). Dear grandmother of Travis Ortin and the late Ryan Ortin.  Special thanks to the staff at Ramsey Woods Residence and Aseracare Hospice.

She grew up in Milwaukee, with her adoptive parents. She met Don at age 13 and when he was 16 they married and moved to the south side of Milwaukee.

Darlene had many passions. She was one of the few people that could actually grow orchids. Orchids by Hausermann in IL was a regular destination for her and Don, to have some repotted and of course to add to the collection. None of the kids really inherited her green thumb.

She was a voracious reader of Nora Roberts romantic novels and her love of reading rubbed off on Kim. In fact, one of Darlene’s favorite books became one of Kim’s favorites as well. “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by James Herriot put an emphasis on kindness to all living beings.  So, it made sense that their house always had at least one animal. She bred AKC Shelties and fostered kittens. In fact, one kitten was adopted by Keith!

Whenever we were out and about, if there was a parent with small children, we’d have to stop so that she could talk with them.  No baby was ever passed up without some interaction.

Music played a big part in her life. During the families’ musical jam sessions, Darlene contributed with her singing. Mario Lanza and bag pipes scored high on her list, so we made sure to get someone to play the pipes for her on special occasions. We also went to the Highland Games in Waukesha. Kathy and Kim grew up sharing a love of musicals with her and Don. They saw countless shows at the Fireside and at local high schools. She and Don rarely missed their daughters’ school concerts.

She and Don traveled to Las Vegas and Walt Disney World in Florida. Walt Disney World was a favorite destination and in 1994 they took their 11 year-old grandsons.

She enjoyed 20 years working at JC Penny as well.  She started close to home at the outlet in Cudahy on Packard and then when that closed, she shifted to Southridge mall.  She looked forward to seeing her co-workers each day.

Her sense of humor was reflected in what was on the tv, like The Carol Burnett Show and I Love Lucy. Almost every Sunday, she’d clip a comic strip from the Journal newspaper. She also liked Star Trek and the Twilight Zone.

Darlene was a generous soul. Her final gift was a donation of her body to be used for research at the Medical College of WI.

A Celebration of Her Life will be held on August 30, 2020 at Weissgerber’s Golden Mast Inn, W349 N5293 Lacy’s Lane, Okauchee, WI 53069. Visitation from 2-3:30p and Remembrance at 3:30p.


  1. Candace Sandau August 23, 2020 at 12:55 pm - Reply


    Sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I lost my dad in 2010, but I am grateful to still have my Mom. I cherish everyday with her.

    From a friend, way back when we were kids,

    Candace Sandau

    • Kim Ortin August 31, 2020 at 11:13 am - Reply

      Candace, it has been a long time. Thank you for the kind words.

  2. Jennel A Kordus August 31, 2020 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    I knew “Aunt Darlene” for all of my 62yrs. She was my mother’s best friend in high school, and was her maid of honor at my mother’s wedding.( I have pics that I am trying to load, but not working!!)
    Darlene always called me her “monkey” because she said that is exactly what I looked like when I was born! But I was her favorite, and she loved me. As time went on, our family would visit Darlene & Don’s home for parties on the weekend where Don would play in his band, and my mom knew how to play accordion, I think don did too, and they would alternate and we would all dance.Later on, I started showing my family’s Old English Sheepdogs, and started showing Darlene’s Sheltie, Peekin. Who did very well in the show circuit!. After Peekin’s retirement, I ended up being her professional “show” groomer for the remaining dogs that followed.At that time I realized she was fostering kittens! I am sure she did keep a few, right?She always had the greatest sense of humor, and that, “Go with flow” attitude. I miss her dearly, she was a great friend, and I loved seeing her whenever I came over to groom. Rest in peace, you won’t be forgotten in this girl’s eyes.

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