CHILTON - Gail Marsha (Lawrenz) Engler, age 74, of Chilton, Wis., was born into eternal life Tuesday, May 3, 2011.
Gail was born March 18, 1937, daughter of the late Florence (Lucht) Lawrenz Schroeder and Royal H. Lawrenz, in South Milwaukee, and lived for a short time in Racine, before moving to Shorewood Hills in Madison. Gail was a 1955 Madison West High School graduate where she was active in leadership roles including Student Council as vice president, Girl Scouts, potlucks, church groups and the debate team. She went on to graduate from UW-Madison in 1959 with a major in history and English and a minor in Spanish. Her first job was as a teacher at Central High School in Madison.
She married William Engler Jr. on Aug. 29, 1959. Gail and Bill moved to Chilton, in 1961, where her husband began his legal career while Gail became a homemaker raising six children. Inspired by her own high school AFS (American Field Service) experience in Finland, Gail was an integral part of initiating the first AFS chapter in Chilton in 1961, a program that is still going strong today. In 1984, Gail joined P.E.O., Chapter AT, a favorite organization of her mother's, where women celebrate the advancement of women, educating through scholarships, grants, awards, loans and stewardship of Cottey College, as well as motivating women to achieve their highest aspirations. Gail was instrumental in the development and building of the Kaytee Avian Education Center in 1995. She was on the board of directors of the Chilton Camp Fire Girls and the North Eastern Wisconsin Land Trust. Gail also was a member of the Grants' Committee for both the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley, Region, Inc. and of the Chilton Area Community Foundation. Gail was selected as Chilton's "Distinguished Citizen of the Year" in 1982.
Gail was a member of Good Shepherd Parish (formerly St. Mary's). She shared her love of teaching history and her knowledge of her Catholic faith by serving as a CCD high school religious education teacher for many years. Her love of the performing arts and her interest in student development, led Gail and Bill to be major contributors to the Engler Center for Performing Arts, one of the finest performing arts' facilities in the area.
Growing up in Shorewood Hills uncovered Gail's love of nature. Long walks home from school through Shorewood's tree-covered hilly streets, laying on the beach of Lake Mendota, playing in the quarry across the street and spending time with her girlfriends gave Gail lots of opportunity to be in touch with God's creation. Her talent in photography captured her love of nature and her pride in her children and grandchildren. Other hobbies included gardening, scrapbooking, shopping, attending performing arts events, skiing, biking, hiking, reading, crafts and writing letters. She had a knack for gift-giving; buying the perfect gift, and having it arrive in a timely fashion, wrapped beautifully.
Staying connected was important to Gail. Her newsy Christmas cards will be missed by many. Gail was an enthusiastic supporter of the University of Wisconsin Badgers, attending many football and basketball games over the years donned in red and white. In her later years, she and her husband enjoyed traveling to many parts of the world around the world learning about people from different cultures, occasionally visiting former AFS students they had become acquainted with over the years. Gail's favorite pastime was spending time with her children and grandchildren at their Lake House in Door County overlooking Lake Michigan and their Ledge House in Calumet County on the Niagra escarpment overlooking Lake Winnebago.
Gail was predeceased by her parents, Florence (Lucht) Lawrenz Schroeder and Royal H. Lawrenz; her brother, Craig Lawrenz; and nephew, Paul Lawrenz.
She is survived by her husband, William Engler Jr. of 52 years; and children, Pat (Tom) Engler-Parish of Laramie, Wyo., Paula (Terry) Fox of Manitowoc, Susan Engler (Stuart Hopfensperger) of Plymouth, Sarah (Joel) Weitz of Madison, Nancy (Chad) Davis of Sherwood, and William (Laurie) Engler of Appleton. Her 14 surviving grandchildren include Matthew and Eric Parish, Ted and Billy Fox, Kate and Jon Criter, Heidi, George and Charlie Weitz, Ellie and Spencer Davis, and Abby, Jack and Allison Engler. She is also survived by nieces, Pam Lawrenz and Paula Kessler; and nephew, Scott Lawrenz.
The visitation vigil for Gail's family and friends will be held on Friday, May 6, 2011, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the WIETING FAMILY FUNERAL HOME (411 W. Main St.) in Chilton, with a short prayer service at 7 p.m., and again on Saturday, May 7, 2011, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at GOOD SHEPHERD CATHOLIC CHURCH (62 E. Main St.) in Chilton. The funeral Mass will begin at 11 a.m., with the Rev. Bob Kolath officiating, burial will follow in St. Mary Cemetery in Chilton.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Chilton Area Community Foundation or the Chilton chapter of AFS (American Field Service).
Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on May 5, 2011 (submitted by Michael Vahldieck, Class of 1968).
Mrs. Engler was the homeroom teacher for Room 120 during the 1959-1960 school year. Her homeroom students were 7th graders, most of whom stayed at Central High School for six years, graduating with the Class of 1965.
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