Eveline Tesheneck lived a long, rich life that spanned nearly a century and was marked by boundless love for her family. A loving, devoted mother, Eveline often worked two or three jobs at a time to provide for her children, yet still managed to watch out for them and help them to stay on the straight and narrow. Eveline was hard working, and she could be a perfectionist about some things, but she also maintained a fun-loving and independent spirit.
In the early-1920’s, the nation was still emerging from the shadow of the First World War. The Great Depression was still a number of years away, but post-war America was experiencing some economic growing pains. Despite these difficulties, it was a time of great promise and technical innovation. Radio technology was improving rapidly, and 1921 saw the first baseball game broadcast on the airwaves. A young Amelia Earhart began taking flying lessons, and later in the year she bought her own plane. As the year wound down and the trees shed the last of their leaves in anticipation of the coming winter, John and Julia Oltesvig welcomed the birth of their sixth child, Eveline, on November 21, 1921 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Eveline was the middle child in a large family, born between her older siblings Ellen, Earl, Elvin, Marie, and Edith, and her younger siblings Luvina, Albert, and the twins, Leone and Leonard. In 1926 the family left Iowa for Rome, Wisconsin. Two years later, when Eveline was just seven years old, family circumstances led her to leave home to live with her Uncle Ted and Aunt Becky in Havre, Montana. Ted and Becky didn’t have any children of their own, and were like godparents to Eveline. She helped out at the motel they owned, doing chores, making up the rooms, and helping out with the food. She loved and appreciated them greatly, and always credited them with instilling her good work ethic. This may also be where Eveline developed her perfectionism when it came to cleaning and laundry. As an adult, she insisted that towels and sheets be folded just right, and she would iron socks and underwear!
Eveline was about 14 when her longing for her mother and siblings became too much and she moved back to be with her mother, who had moved to a farm in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin after divorcing Eveline’s father. The effects of the Great Depression and the large number of children in the family led to some tough times on the farm, and at age 16 Eveline experienced a nervous breakdown. She was treated at a hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, where she was told that she would not be able to have children.
As a young woman, Eveline loved to dance and would go dancing on the weekend at local dances in Wisconsin Rapids. It was here that she met Kenneth LaVigne. Ken didn’t especially like dancing but he would take Eveline to the dances and let her know that it was okay to dance, but she was going home with him. They fell in love and even though they wanted to marry, Eveline had to wait until she was 18 because her mother would not sign for her at an early age. They were eventually married on December 23, 1939 in Wisconsin Rapids.
Ken worked in the paper mill and Eveline put her Montana experience to use working as a cleaner at a local hotel. They were blessed with the birth of a daughter, Rita, in 1941, delivered by Ken’s mother Ida. Shortly after Rita was born, Ken lost his job because he took the blame for smoking in a restricted area and he would not snitch on the guilty party. Eveline was so mad at him! As a result, the family moved to Milwaukee seeking work, and Ken started a produce business in the Third Ward. Their first son, Wayne (“Butch”), was born in 1942. Soon after Butch’s birth, Eveline began working at Oesters appliance manufacturer. Ken’s parents would follow their migration to Milwaukee. Ken and Eveline welcomed the birth of their “oops” daughter, Evelyn, in 1950. The couple began running the Colonial Bar on W. Vliet Street in Milwaukee. Their family was completed with the birth of their son, Edwin, in 1954. There were challenges in their marriage and they divorced in 1956.
In 1958, Eveline became the first woman in Wisconsin to have a beer license, and ran Eve’s Bar & Grill in Union Grove, Wisconsin. It was a beer bar, but she did not have a full liquor license. She would run Eve’s for two years until 1960 when she joined her daughter Rita working at Globe Union. She worked as a battery assembler for 23 years before retiring in 1983
Eveline and her girlfriends liked to go to Club Muskego in Muskego, Wisconsin. She would often go in and ask the bartender for a quarter for the juke box, warning “Give me a quarter or I’ll have to sing!” She came in one day and it was crowded, so she sat next to a guy from South Milwaukee named Andrew Tesheneck. Andrew was there because friends had said it was where a bunch of girls hung out. Eveline used her line about the quarter and the bartender said “I guess you will have to sing.” As she began to sing, Andy interrupted her, saying “Here is a quarter so you won’t sing!” That sparked a romance, and Eveline and Andy were eventually married. Andy’s first wife had drowned, leaving Andy with a young son, James. Eveline loved James as her own son.
Eveline and Andy were diligent savers. Every Friday, they gathered in the kitchen and paid their bills, so after they retired they were able to pay cash when they rewarded themselves with a new Cadillac. Eveline loved her Cadillac, and for many years afterward it remained her pride and joy. After retiring, Andy and Eveline also enjoyed traveling in their motor home.
After Andrew died in 1994, Eveline remained independent and eventually settled in Cudahy, Wisconsin. Eveline reconnected with John Strike, a friend who served together in the military with her first husband Ken. Eveline and John remained companions until his death. Later on, when things became a little difficult for her because of leg problems and weakness in her legs, her children began watching out for her. By 2013 Eveline needed some additional care and she moved to an assisted living facility, and in 2015 she moved to Brenwood Park Assisted Living in Franklin, Wisconsin. Recently, Eveline developed a septic infection and needed to be hospitalized. Eveline died Wednesday, October 19, 2016 at Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore Hospital in Cudahy.
Eveline lived a remarkable life. After being told she could not have children at a young age, she defied the odds and went on to build a family that continues to grow. In many ways, her role as a mother defined her. By nurturing, providing for, and looking over her children, she built a legacy of love that endures through each new generation. She will never be forgotten, and will be greatly missed by all those whose lives she touched.
Tesheneck, Eveline J. (nee Oltesvig) October 19, 2016. Age 94 years. Preceded in death by her husband Andrew J Tesheneck Sr. and 9 of her siblings. Cherished mother of Rita St. Louis, Wayne “Butch” LaVigne, Evelyn “Sue” (Robert) Sobiek, Edwin (Renee) LaVigne, James Tesheneck, Andrew Jr (Connie) Tesheneck and Robert (Diane) Tesheneck. Dear sister of Leone Krueger. Further survived by 22 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren, 44 great-great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Visitation Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Funeral Home from 3:00 PM until time of the Funeral Service at 5:30 PM and Thursday Oct. 27, from 9 :00 AM until 10:00 AM, interment to follow at Forest Home Cemetery.
Suminski LifeStory Funeral Homes
Niemann / Suminski
2486 S. Kinnickinnic Ave 414-744-5156