PEMBINE, Wis. — Audrey Anne Stevens, 94, of Pembine, Wis., died unexpectedly due to COVID-19 on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, at Aurora Medical Center Bay Area in Marinette Wis.
Audrey was born Sept. 15, 1926, in Milwaukee, daughter to the late Theophil and Alma (née Leetz) Gramza.
Raised in south Milwaukee, Audrey came of age during the Great Depression and World War II, a member of the Greatest Generation. The challenging times of Audrey’s early years formed in her a gentle, kind-hearted fortitude and resiliency of character which endured throughout her life. Known for her good nature, an even-keel temperament, kindness, and selflessness, she never forgot her roots and genuinely found purpose in serving others and offering a helping hand.
She graduated from Milwaukee’s Pulaski High School in 1944 and was an avid team member of the Pulaski swim club and the aquatic ballet squad. Audrey’s high school yearbook superlative “Oh for that ‘happy-go-lucky’ way of hers” carried her throughout her life. Audrey’s congenial nature made her an easy pleasure to be around; she was dearly loved and will be sorely missed. She deeply loved her family.
As a young woman during WWII, Audrey worked in Milwaukee as an aircraft supercharger blueprint reader and helped to make torpedo casings and aircraft landing gear. At the end of WWII, she met and married Gordon Starck; she gave birth to her first child Sandra in 1951 and was divorced in 1953.
In 1956 she married Arthur “Ozzie” Branton and they settled happily into a suburban life in New Berlin, Wis. There she gave birth to Robert and Patricia and worked as a typist and payroll secretary for Gateway Trucking in Milwaukee. Audrey arrived in Pembine in 1968 from Milwaukee with Ozzie, where together they found success owning and operating Ozzie and Audrey’s Beecher Bar until his death in 1977. She later worked until retirement for many years at Bank North in Pembine.
Audrey married William “Bill” Stevens in August 1989, and they enjoyed many years together in Pembine, while wintering for a time in Florida. Ever the homemaker, Audrey was the ideal wife, mother, grandmother, cook, washer, and bottle cleaner, and happily content in her tasks. Audrey was happiest when her and Bill’s kitchen table was ringed with friends and family; nearly every morning for several hours, a kaffeeklatsch of friends, family, and neighbors would arrive to share conversation, stories, and the latest town news. The coffee was always fresh, guests were welcomed with cookies, breakfasts, et al., and laundry, cooking, baking, and house chores kept her moving; she was spritely on her feet, even at 94. She loved to serve.
Through her long life, Audrey’s pleasures included knitting and crocheting, bingo, golfing, bowling, reading books and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and solving its crossword puzzles, watching Jeopardy every evening, and solving the next jigsaw puzzle, of which there were hundreds; the bigger and more challenging the puzzle, all the better. She was a legendary bingo player and was always up for an occasional visit to a casino (and Las Vegas) with Bill, family, and her many friends. She was widely known throughout the community through her years of employment and active community service in the Tavern League of Wisconsin, Lions Club International, and Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church of Pembine.
Audrey is survived by her husband of 31 years, William Stevens of Pembine; daughter, Sandra Starck of Eau Claire, Wis.; son, Robert and Kathy (née Davido) Branton of Sussex Wis.; daughter, Patricia Branton of Green Bay, Wis.; six grandchildren, Jackie Lee of Milwaukee, Korissa (née Branton) Thimm of Sussex, Rachel Branton of Milwaukee, Jason Boudreau of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Joshua Beaudo of Menominee, Grae Roush of Pensacola, Fla.; one great-granddaughter, Maeve Lee Fitzpatrick; and many nieces and nephews.
Audrey was preceded in death by her parents, Alma and Theophil Gramza; brothers, Jerome Grams and Robert Grams; sisters, Charlotte Buckton and Shirley Immel; first husband, Gordon Starck; and second husband, Arthur Branton.
Audrey’s husband and family would like to thank the hospital staff of Aurora Medical Center for their extraordinary and compassionate care, and also Phil and Joyce Paske, Carol Wosniak, and Mark McCorkle for their care, friendship, and watchfulness the past three years. The family also wishes to express their deep gratitude for the care, the kindnesses, and comforts provided daily by the NewCare CBRF staff in Crivitz, Wis. the past year. May Audrey rest in peace, watching over all of us for eternity with her beautiful hazel eyes.
There will be a Lutheran graveside burial service at the Pembine Cemetery on Nov. 30 at noon with Pastor Gene Wickman officiating. The family respectfully asks everyone in attendance to please wear masks and practice social distancing. Due to the pandemic, no church service nor wake will be held at this time. A Celebration of Life service for Audrey will be held at a later date.
Condolences to the family of Audrey Anne Stevens may be expressed in the online guestbook of Roubal Funeral Home at www.roubalfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, a memorial charity gift can be given in Audrey’s name to Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pembine. (W8014 Minnie Street, P.O. 117, Pembine, WI; 715-324-5899; email@example.com )
The family has entrusted Roubal Funeral Home of Wausaukee, Wis. with arrangements.