A gracious woman whose focus was always on others, Shirley Kopf was such a blessing to all who were near. It was easy to see by the way she lived her life that she was a woman of faith, and the love she had for her Lord was a solid cornerstone in her life. A devoted mother, Shirley treasured her roles as a wife and mother but she just might have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandmother to the grandchildren she adored. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
The 1930s brought us some of the most trying days we have faced as a nation as the entire decade was cloaked in the hardship of the Great Depression. Life was anything but easy, and there were few American families who didn’t feel the strain. Despite the hardship around them, Edward and Helen (Repondek) Kretlow were able to shift their focus to an exciting time in their own lives as they announced the birth of the baby girl the named Shirley Ann on November 30, 1937, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was was the second of six children to be raised in the family home on the East Side of Milwaukee. She grew up in a poor German/Irish/Polish family, but there was always plenty of love. Shirley spent her time outside playing Kick the Can and Jacks with her sisters, the neighborhood kids, and her cousins Barbara, Anna, and Janie who lived next door. Her summers were spent playing at Reservoir Park and swimming in Gordon Park.The wicked snowstorm of 1947 left the town and streets empty so everyone played in the street. It wasn’t long after that Shirley’s father decided they were moving to a warmer climate. A few years later they moved to California. Her first two years in high school found her at St. Mary’s Academy, she then was in class for a semester in California, and she went on to graduated early from Riverside High School in January of 1955. Shortly thereafter, Shirley was hired in her first job as a typist for North Western Mutual Life.
It was also during this time that Shirley contemplated becoming a nun, however, those thoughts fell along the wayside when she met the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Robert Kopf, and they met at the local coffee shop counter off Lafayette and Farwell when he was sitting with a man and her friend, Barbara Hart. Shirley met him there a few more times, and then Robert offered to give her a ride to work the next morning. Their first official date was at the Eagles Club where they both loved to dance. Guy Lombardo was playing that night, and Shirley always fondly remembered that special night. About three years later, Shirley and Robert they were married at the Milwaukee Justice of the peace, which was done at the Justice’s home not an office in. Carol Brandel, a friend from North Western Mutual Life, was her witness and Robert’s friend Bill was the other witness.
The newlyweds settled into an apartment on Oakland Avenue and were eager to begin their new lives together. They remained there until Kelly was born in 1960 at which time they moved to an apartment on Astor Street upstairs from where Grandma Koch lived. Then the family moved to the first floor of a duplex in the suburbs of Bayside. In 1964, Susan arrived. Because Shirley didn’t have a driver’s license until she was 32 years old, she and the girls took the bus everywhere they went. Robert and Shirley later bought their own home in Bayside the same year Kurtis was born, in 1970. Robert was a great handyman, and he made the house a real home complete with a pool for the family to enjoy. Shirley hosted numerous pool parties for family and friends. These were a hit not only because of the pool, but also because everyone got to sample many of Shirley’s baking recipes.
Shirley was well known for her baking, and she continued reading recipe books until a month before her death. Shirley entered the baking contest at the annual picnic held by the Village of Bayside for many years. After her first few years of taking first place, the local bakers asked if Shirley had entered because they decided not to enter if she had! The bookshelves in the home, the basement, and any other place that could hold a book was filled with papers marking a special recipe that she planned to make real soon.
After focusing her attention at home and being deeply involved in the lives of her children including as a room mother in Kurtis’s class every year, Shirley was ready to enter the workforce again. She took a job as the principal’s secretary at the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District. She perfected her skills there and worked hard. Shirley always wanted herself and her family to make a good impression on others. Once all of her children were grown, Shirley volunteered as many hours as her health allowed to her church. She found comfort in the new family that was evolving at the church and loved serving in this way.
Later in life Shirley loved becoming a grandmother. She and Robert were involved in the lives of their grandchildren, Gavin, Samantha, Grant, Grace, and Spencer. Shirley did her best to plan her schedule around the numerous extra curricular events of all of her grandchildren. In addition, as a step-grandparent Shirley also went out of her way to welcome all of the stepchildren who came into her family. She was so appreciative of the 50th anniversary celebration that her children had planned, and it was so wonderful that so many extended family members were able to join in the celebration.
A longtime resident of the community she loved, Shirley Kopf was such a blessing to everyone she met. She lived a life of faith that was focused on serving her Lord and serving others. A loving wife, mother, and grandmother, Shirley was the rock of her family and an amazing role model for all who were near. Although she will be deeply missed, her family finds comfort in knowing that she is enjoying perfect peace in her eternal home.
Shirley Ann Kopf died on November 6, 2016. Beloved wife of the late Robert W. Kopf. Cherished mother of Susan (Dan Noe) Beck, Kurtis Kopf, and the late Kelly Ann Murray. Loving and devoted grandmother of Gavin, Grant, and Grace Murray and Samantha and Spencer Beck. Dear sister of Diane (Stanley) Strozewski, Christine (Carlo) Cataldo, Elroy (Laurie) Kretlow, Debbie (Dennis) Walders, and the late Edward Kretlow. Further survived by other relatives and friends. Visitation will be held at Wisconsin Memorial Park – Chapel of the Chimes, 13235 W. Capitol Dr. Brookfield, on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016, from 2:30 p.m. until the time of the Funeral Services at 3:30 p.m.
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