It was easy to see why everyone loved Isabelle Gaunt. With her quick wit and lovable nature, she added much to the lives of those who knew and loved her. Family was important to her, and affectionately known as “Auntie Belle”, the sound of her laughter came easily to the delight of those in her company. With so many loved ones that have gone before her, Isabelle now leaves her own lasting legacy and will be dearly missed.
Isabelle’s story began on June 23, 1911 in Green Lake County, Wisconsin. The daughter of Frank and Eva (Kotkowski) Mashock, she was raised on the family farm in the Princeton area. At the time of her birth, the U.S. was growing by leaps and bounds. Ellis Island set a one day, all-time record that year as an influx of 11,745 immigrants entered America with their sights set on a life full of hope and promise. With a population of 94 million, the nation enjoyed the introduction of stainless steel and with the average yearly income totaling $983.00, the opening of the first Woolworth’s Department Store began a well loved and popular place to shop.
The fifth of eventually ten children, Isabelle and her siblings worked hard on the family farm. The dairy cattle needed to be milked and fed, and stalls cleaned along with the hogs they raised. They each had duties around the farm and household chores such as laundry, cleaning and helping care for the younger children. Times were lean, especially for such a large family. Everyone did their part, made do with what they had and lived simply. Saturday night was bath night in their home. The basin was filled to the brim with fresh bathing water as Frank and Eva bathed and then each of the children lined up, one through ten in order, for their turn. They all used the same bath water, and one can only imagine what the youngest of the ten was left with by the time it was their turn!
Throughout her educational years Isabelle attended the Green Lake County Public Schools. Following primary school she went on to graduate from the Berlin Teachers College located in Berlin, Wisconsin. She soon took a teaching position with the Green Lake County Public School System as an elementary school teacher where she remained for a number of years. When the opportunity arose to move to the city of Milwaukee, Isabelle was excited for the many opportunities that awaited her there. Shortly after her arrival she began taking classes at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (M.A.T.C.) where she studied bookkeeping and accounting. She later earned her accounting certificate through the Spencerian Business College.
Isabelle pursued employment in her field of bookkeeping and worked at several places before landing a position with the Paul Weise Furniture Company on Milwaukee’s east side. She proved to be a dedicated worker and was very proud of her employment with the company. For the next 15 years she remained there as a loyal employee until her eventual retirement. Throughout this time she made her home on Prospect Avenue, also located on the east side of town in close proximity to her work. Isabelle loved her cats. Jackie was her first, followed by Patrick and eventually Patsy. They each offered her loving companionship and welcomed her home after a long day.
Life found Isabelle with her share of happiness and heartache. Love didn’t pass her by, and although she was married twice, both marriages ended in divorce before she had the opportunity to experience the love of children in her heart. She did, however, come to love and nurture some of her beloved nieces and nephews as if they were her own.
Over the years Isabelle filled her days with the love of family, work and her enjoyment for card playing. She was especially fond of Bridge and Sheepshead, and was a longtime member of the Greater Milwaukee Bridge Association and Duplicate Bridge Clubs. She loved to compete in the tournaments and for a time served as president of the Bridge Club. Some of her additional activities included bowling, and since the days of her youth she loved to dance and enjoyed music. Fond memories were cherished by Isabelle each time she recalled the wonderful times she shared with her siblings out dancing. An avid Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers fan, Isabelle was sure to know the latest scores of her favorite teams.
In retirement Isabelle found fulfillment visiting the sick and elderly. She had a heart for others and her compassion and kindness was a welcome addition to the days of many.
Whether family or friend, everyone absolutely loved Isabelle as she added a breath of fresh air to those around her. With faith as her guide, she lived according to her beliefs and was a devout member of Three Holy Women Parish. In addition, she also served as a member of Senior Partners at St. Mary’s Hospital. A sharp dresser, Isabelle was a lady in every sense of the word. In fact, she always encouraged and reminded her nieces to “always be a lady” in all aspects of their lives.
In September of 2005 Isabelle moved from her longtime apartment on Prospect Avenue to Heritage Court Assisted Living in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin where she was able to receive assistance with daily living. She remained there until an injury to her right hip in October of 2006 left her with no choice other than a move to Lindengrove Health Care Center. As the advancement of her dementia worsened, Isabelle began receiving hospice care on Saturday which brought her to a comfortable and comforting level. Days later on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, Isabelle sadly died.
Isabelle “Auntie Belle” Gaunt was a loving and devoted member of her family. She added so much to the lives of others and with a quick wit of her own, it was easy to bring smiles and laughter her way. Just months shy of her 100th birthday, Isabelle saw many changes in her years of living and enjoyed a long and fulfilling life. It was easy to love a lady such as Isabelle, and she leaves treasured memories to be fondly remembered.
Isabelle is survived by a sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, other relatives and many dear friends. Visitation for Isabelle will take place Saturday, January 22, 2011 at Three Holy Women Parish-St. Hedwig Church, 1702 N. Humboldt Avenue from 10:00 AM until the time of the funeral Mass at 11:00 AM. Interment in St. John the Baptist Church Cemetery in Princeton. If desired, memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to leave a lasting memory of Isabelle, share a photo and to sign her online guest book. Her family is being served by the Suminski Family Funeral Homes-Suminski/Weiss, (414) 276-5122.