Grace Newby was a remarkable woman who took each day and filled it to the brim with hard work, relationships shared with her family and friends, and a healthy dose of fun thrown in. She could be feisty at times yet her heart was as endless as the blue of the ocean. Along with her husband, Grace exemplified the beauty of marriage as she was not only a loving wife, but one who was willing to get down in the trenches alongside her husband to do what needed to be done. As a mother, Grace was exceptional, always tending to the needs of her children before paying any attention to herself. Grace will be remembered for her mouth-watering meals, her strong work ethic, and her trademark brandy slush, but it will be her unending devotion to her family that will be her lasting legacy.
During the decade that became known as the “Roaring Twenties,” America first was introduced to fads such as jazz music, motion pictures in color, and dance crazes such as the Charleston and the Shimmy. This was a time of great celebration in the family of Edmund and Edna (Kuhnert) Behlke as they welcomed the birth of their daughter, Grace Lucile, on August 12, 1922. Born in Hubbleton, Wisconsin, Grace was the sixth of eleven children in her family including six brothers and four sisters. Her parents were of German descent and rented a farm that they worked in order to support their family. Because of their large family, times were tough, especially as the Great Depression hit the agricultural industry particularly hard. There were always enough farm chores to go around including cows that needed to be milked and chickens, horses, and dogs that needed to be tended to. Many of the horses had names and Grace would talk of her favorites later in life.
There was rarely a dull moment around the Behlke household while Grace was growing up. Her brothers liked to play practical jokes on one another and in order to “get a good laugh,” Grace often gave it right back. On one occasion, Grace’s brothers convinced her to milk the cow that was known for kicking. Grace jumped right in and accepted the challenge. Not surprisingly, she was in fact kicked by the cow. It was hard to tell who she was angrier at – the cow or her brothers standing back getting a good laugh. Grace attended school until she reached the eighth grade. Because of the harsh economic times, it was necessary for her to leave school and work the farm instead. Grace also began working as a housemaid when she was 16 in order to earn a bit of extra money.
Life was forever changed for Grace when she met the young man who would capture her heart. Grace and her sister Gladys were attending a barn dance one fateful evening when they made the acquaintance of two brothers, Theodore and Claude Newby. Not only did Grace and Theodore hit it off, but so did Gladys and Claude. From that point forward, a romance blossomed between the two couples and on June 30, 1940, the Newby brothers married the Behlke sisters in a double ceremony in Watertown.
Theodore, who was more affectionately known as Bud, and Grace began their lives together in Watertown where he worked as an upholsterer. In 1942, they were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Valerie. After a few years, they moved to Brazil, Indiana, because Bud was able to find work there. While there, their family grew to include their son Kent in 1945. Bud had family in Ironwood, Michigan, so they moved there and purchased an upholstery business. With the addition of their son Keith in 1949 and their son Kim in 1951, their family was complete. Grace was not only supportive of her husband with their business, but she worked with him as well. She also worked as an OB thumb sewer for Hansen Glove Factory. At times work was hard to find so Bud began working on the ore boats, which often kept him away from home. Grace worked hard to support and raise her children and was so proud when she purchased her first car, a 1955 Plymouth.
Grace made it seem easy to care for a growing family and work outside of the home at times, too. She was a great cook and could whip up something tasty out of whatever she had on hand. Many of the meals she made were at the request of her children, and she always made sure they were all cared for before sitting down.
In 1959, Grace and her three sons moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, following Bud and Valerie who had been working there. Grace began working for General Merchandise which later became JC Penney catalogue distribution. She worked in the returns department for 28 years until she retired in 1986 in order to care for Bud who had been having health issues. Grace tenderly cared for him until his death on May 30, 1991.
Although Grace was deeply saddened with Bud’s death, she continued on with her life and maintained an active lifestyle. She worked with her son Kent in his upholstery business and became very involved in the lives of her grandchildren. Grace was her grandchildren’s greatest supporter as she attended all of their sporting events. She participated in her fair share of sports and activities with her family as well whether it was golfing, water skiing, riding ATVs, sledding, camping, or traveling on vacations. Grace firmly believed that the family that bowls together stays together and bowling was her favorite thing to do. She became a proficient bowler and was on as many as three teams a season, making friends who became like family along the way.
Grace Newby was a delightful woman who was patient and kind, hard working and independent. She was athletic and a big fan of the Packers and the Brewers. Grace regularly enjoyed her brandy slush and was known to share it with her family and friends. More than anything else, Grace treasured her family and considered the generations who follow her to be her greatest gift. She will be dearly missed.
Grace Newby died on June 30, 2010. Grace’s family includes her children, Valerie (Eldred “Al”) Clemens, Kent (Sharleen) Newby, Keith Newby and Kim (Marie) Newby; grandchildren, Randy (Becky) Clemens, Gay (Tony) Gheller, Kristen (Greg) Ossanna, Niki (Henry) Risen, Sheila Newby, Darcey Newby, Justin (Carol) Newby, Shawn Newby, Nicholas Newby, Ryan Newby and Andrea Newby; great-grandchildren, Danyelle, Noah, Heidi, Emily, Allyn, Gabrielle, Brett, Savanah, Paige, and Emberlynn, great-great-grandchild, Devin; siblings, Vern Behlke, Paul (Pearl) Behlke, Norman (Genevieve) Behlke, Roddy (Millie) Behlke, Florence (Robert) Draeger and Georgian Wasmund; as well as other relatives and friends. Grace was preceded in death by her husband Theodore and brothers Kenneth and Merlin Behlke and sisters Dorothy Ziemmer and Gladys Newby. Visit with Grace’s family and friends on Friday, July 9 at Waukesha First Assembly of God Church 1314 S. Grand Avenue Waukesha, WI 53186 from 4 – 6:45 p.m. Funeral Service 7:00 p.m. Interment Saturday July 10, 11:00 a.m. at Graceland Cemetery Milwaukee, WI. Arrangements provided by Suminski Family Funeral Homes, Niemann / Suminski 414-744-5156. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a favorite memory or photo.
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