It is with great sadness that the family of Arlene Gertrude Groff (nee Spaniol) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin announces her death on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at the age of 91. She was with two of her granddaughter’s, Karie and Amy Groff, when she was called home to the Lord.
Arlene is proceeded in death by her husband, Lawrence John Groff, her son, Jerome Groff; daughter in-law, Roseanne Groff (nee Zylka); her two brothers David Spaniol and LeRoy Spaniol, and two sisters, Marilyn LaFountain and Carol Weeks. She will be lovingly remembered by her daughter, Mary Meissner, son-in-law Glen Meissner and their children Sally Arlene and Matthew John; her granddaughter Karie Groff (James Mertens) and their children Alexis Rose and Julia Ann; her granddaughter, Amy Groff and great granddaughter, Elizabeth Margaret. She is also survived by five sisters; Audrey Mikulovsky, Elvira Schraufnagel, Janice Schraufnagel, Beverly Poquette and Ruth Ann McClellan. Thirty-plus nieces and nephews, and many friends will miss her dearly.
Arlene was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 3, 1929 the second daughter of ten children to Albert and Leota Spaniol. Arlene spent many hours taking care of her eight younger siblings. She attended Gesu School and worked at Security Abstract Company as a File Clerk. On April 26th, 1952 she married Lawrence John Groff at St. Leo’s Catholic Church and they had two children, Jerome and Mary. Arlene and Lawrence loved to go out dancing, play dart ball, bowl, play horseshoes and visit relatives by bus on Sundays, even on the chilliest days. Arlene and Lawrence often walked to Washington Park or took the bus to Sherman Park on Sunday’s for gatherings with the extended family. Many summers were spent walking to Washington Park for tennis and swimming lessons for Jerome and Mary. They all played cards, canasta, sheepshead, poker, rummy royal, Uno, bingo and other board games endlessly, which Arlene continued to enjoy with her children and then later with grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She loved to crochet and many of us are blessed to have gifts made by her.
Arlene was a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader, volunteered in the library at St. Michael’s School and helped with Fish Fry Dinners every Friday for many years. She also worked at Samuel Clemons Elementary School as an aide. She was always offering to help with things that had to be done.
On September 16, 1975, her husband, Lawrence, passed away at the age of 58. Arlene remained a widow for 45 years, faced many obstacles and because of her deep faith, always managed. She was a lifelong Catholic and had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. Her rosary turned gold on Easter Sunday, 1990 while visiting in Colorado Springs and praying the Rosary at Mary and Glen’s friends, Karl and Sharon Keas home!
Always full of life and very talkative, Arlene kept the family abreast of everyone and everything. Many times calling the family quite early in the morning! She had a kind spirit and babysat and loved being with her grandchildren in Milwaukee, Colorado and Arizona. She loved to visit her daughter, Mary, and family and her namesake, Sally Arlene, and Matthew, her only grandson, were always excited with her visits. Her son-in-law, Glen, loved to kid her and did not mind his mother-in-law visiting for a month at a time. In later years, she always sent him licorice for his birthday. She truly loved vacationing with Mary and Glen and the kids. She visited the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Four Corners, Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Denver Zoo and Museum, Casa Bonita and White Fence Farm, Estes Park, Tombstone and the OK Corral, to name just a few.
She was a fan of the Milwaukee Braves and then Brewers, and the Packers. She proudly wore the gifts of Brewer and Packer shirts. Arlene loved to sing and many times would sing to her daughter, Mary on the phone! She loved going to the Wisconsin State Fair, even in her wheelchair, always to get a crème puff! In later years, her granddaughter, Karie, made her home “wheelchair accessible” for “Grandma” and Arlene spent holidays and birthdays there with the family, always enjoying the food and company.
Thank you to the caregivers that cared for her in the Nursing Homes. A special thank you to the family and friends who visited Arlene. She loved all your visits and treats. Her sister, Ruth Ann stopped in the early morning after Mass, Debbie Hartlerode always brought her a shake, and Bobby Schraufnagel saw to it that Aunt Arlene was able to get together with her sisters. “Great grandma” also was able to visit with Alexis and Julia in the beautiful courtyard at Luther Manor.
With Covid-19 regulations, no one could visit her these past five months and even talking on the phone was limited. It was very hard on her not being able to see or talk to her family and friends. One of the blessings was that some of the family was able to visit with her over the internet. Who would have thought we would ever zoom with her! However, flowers and packages could be sent or dropped off. She loved all the flowers she received these past months for Mother’s Day and her birthday, and the nine skeins of yarn her daughter, Mary sent to keep her occupied in her room. Thanks to Randy and Debbie Manes (friends of Mary and Glen from California), she had beautiful flowers in her room when she passed away, and was almost through with a large print book they dropped off too. Unfortunately, they didn’t get to drop the pizza off that she had asked for and she did not get to enjoy the chocolate covered cherries that Debbie Harlerode sent her.
When her son, Jerome passed away on May 24, 2018, she missed him dearly. He often visited her, met her at restaurants around Milwaukee for lunch and they attended Brewer games together, and often times other family members joined them. She loved to order strawberry waffles with whipped cream when they went out!
On June 3rd, 2019 Arlene turned 90 years old. Her daughter, Mary and granddaughter, Karie hosted this memorable event! Over thirty family and friends gathered from near and far to celebrate her life at her granddaughter, Karie’s house! It was so fun for her to see everyone. We had hoped to celebrate her 100th!
Arlene will be dearly missed as she was the glue that held the family together. Due to Covid-19, we are celebrating Arlene’s life with an on-line virtual remembrance of her life. We will gather for an in-person memorial service at a later date in Milwaukee.
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