Elaine (Barker) Laatsch, age 102, passed away peacefully on March 2, 2022. On this day, God gained a most cherished mother, loving grandmother, hilarious storyteller, avid bowler, and a loyal Brewer fan.
Elaine was born on January 10, 1920, in Langlade County. She was the eighth of ten children born to Frank and Pearl (McKinnon) Barker. She is proceeded in death by her parents and siblings, who were anxiously awaiting her arrival with a cribbage board and a cocktail. What a joyous reunion that must have been!
In 1938, Elaine graduated from Merrill High School. She and her sisters loved to attend dances at local dance halls. In 1940, she met Edwin Laatsch, who would go on to be the love of her life. The two wed on April 11, 1942 in Merrill, Wisconsin. Shortly after their nuptials, Edwin joined the United States Army with the 826th Combat Engineers. Elaine, eager to do her part, became employed at several places that manufactured military supplies during WWII. This included Allis Chalmers, which produced military machinery and parts for the Atomic Bomb. Elaine proudly considered herself to be a “Rosie the Riveter” gal as she also worked at A.O. Smith, manufacturing propellers for submarines and aircraft.
Elaine and Edwin started a family and over the course of 17 years, they were blessed with 8 children: Judy, Jerry, Ken, Wayne, Raymond, Rita, Keith and Margaret. They both shared a deep love for the game of bowling, often playing “Scotch Doubles.” Their fondness for chasing “strikes” and “spares” would become a passion for many of their children and grandchildren. Elaine would continue to bowl until she reached the age of 93 years old.
During their years together, Elaine and Edwin traveled to countless places in the United States for both national bowling events and family vacations. Along the way they made many lifelong friends and enjoyed time with family. In 1998, Elaine and Edwin moved to Phillips, Wisconsin to be closer to family. They enjoyed family gatherings during their time in the “Northwoods” that included merciless cribbage playing, Elaine’s chicken and dumplings, and her famous potato salad.
On December 27, 2003, Edwin passed away, leaving a void in the Laatsch family. Despite Elaine’s broken heart she would carry on the family traditions and remain the cornerstone of the Laatsch family for the remainder of her life. During the past 19 years Elaine had lived with her daughter, Rita, who served as a faithful companion and caregiver. Elaine especially enjoyed the Globe-crossword puzzles, crocheting, reading, and playing cards. She loved ladybugs and was brave enough to get a tattoo of one. Elaine Laatsch was also a loyal and dedicated fan of the Milwaukee Brewers. Her love for the “Blue and Gold” dates back to her 1st Brewers Game in 1939 at Borchert Field. She would attend many more games with her children and grandchildren.
In the last couple years, Elaine slowed down and finally started acting her age, but despite her tired body, her mind was sharp. She could still recite her Girl Scout Oath and declare her favorite toast, “Here’s to you and here’s to me. May we never disagree. But if we do, and here’s to me, to hell with you.”
Elaine had a deep affection for her family and friends. She believed there was no greater blessing then the love and joy she gave and received from her family.
Elaine leaves behind her 8 children, Judy Stanke, Jerry (Amy) Laatsch, Ken (Beth) Laatsch, Wayne Laatsch, Raymond (Judy) Laatsch, Rita Laatsch, Keith (Patty) Laatsch and Margaret (Craig) Brandenburg; 12 grandchildren, Ray, Melissa, Micayla, Kandi, Ben, Jessica, Eddie, Jason, Scott, Robin, John, and Lace; 13 great-grandchildren, Olivia, Cheyenne, Hayden, Matthew, Jaelyn, Jace, Hailey, Jimmy, Alyson, Gracie, Rex, Airyana, Stryker; and 3 great-great-grandchildren: Perry, Georgia, and Levi.
She is preceded in death by her parents; her sisters, Margaret, Vera, Mabel, Ethel, Marie, and Lois; brothers, Roy, William, Norman; son-in-law, Dennis Stanke; and daughter-in-law, Mickey Laatsch.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 2:00 PM Thursday, March 10, 2022, at St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Church, 655 S. Lake Ave, Phillips, Wisconsin. Friends may visit from Noon – 2:00 PM before the service at the church. Burial in St. Patrick’s Cemetery to follow the service.
In lieu of flowers, Elaine wished for donations to be made in her and Edwin’s honor to Marshfield Medical Center-Park Falls Home Health & Hospice at 133 N. Lake Ave. Phillips, WI 54555. Heindl-Nimsgern Funeral Home is assisting the family.