Cleo Kern left her earthly home on July 3rd with family by her side at the Ladysmith Care Community in Ladysmith, WI where she had resided for the last yearand a half. Cleo Agnes
Nelson was born on February 1, 1919 in her parent’s home on the bank of the Jump River near
Jump River, WI. She was the third of eight children. As a young teenager, Cleo traveled by train to
Chicago to work as a nanny. Cleo always loved babies and children; listened to them and understood their ways.
Chet and Cleo Kern were married May 18, 1940 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Cornell, WI. Over the next 18 years they welcomed six daughters. They lived southwest of Gilman all their married lives. Chet and Cleo celebrated 48 years of marriage before Chet passed away on June 13, 1988.
Cleo was always a hard worker. She peeled popple for several years. For atime, Cleo ran her own trap line, catching mink and muskrats. She was an excellent markswoman and made good use of the 22 shells her grandson, Eric, provided her; keeping the yard free of red squirrels, skunks, and even
an occasional opossum. Cleo was a good deer hunter, able to shoot, clean, cut-up, and cook excellent venison. For many years she worked as a child care provider for several area families and a cook’s helper at Dot & Jerry’s Supper Club in Gilman. Cleo was Treasurer for the Township of Taft in Taylor
County for eight years. She served as news correspondent for the Medford Star News for over 25 years, reporting on local news for the northwest corner of the Town of Taft. When she was in her 80’s Cleo became involved in the Foster Grandparent program in the Gilman School District.
Cleo was a wonderful cook. Her pies, gravies, potato salad, soups, and fried fish were beyond compare.
She provided pies for every holiday family gathering. Cleo loved nature. She taught all of her girls to
respect and enjoy all the beauties of nature that God has provided. She loved picking flowers, especially May flowers. She loved watching the land come to life again in the spring after its long winter’s nap. During a soft summer rain, she would run barefooted through the mud puddles, splashing and laughing with her young daughters and grandchildren. The grandchildren remember Grandma’s green feet after she mowed the lawn while barefooted. She loved to garden and even after she moved into senior housing, always had a tomato plant or two in a pot in the sun.
Cleo was a prolific letter writer. Relatives and friends who received a card from her always knew there would be a letter inside. Her daughters, especially, treasure those cards and letters.
Cleo loved her sweetheart, Chet. She loved her girls and the wonders of nature, but most of all, the Lord.
She welcomed the Lord into her heart in 1989 and never looked back, working faithfully to “get right and stay right with the Lord”. Her faith and church family sustained her through trials and tribulations.
Cleo is survived by her six daughters: Kaye (Wally) Lasonde, Appleton; April (Norm) Rademaker,
Exeland; Pat (Bob) Grunseth, Tony; Jeanne (Bill) Bunce, Cody, WY; Colleen Truax (Brad Huff), Hayward;
Carol Stevenson, (Jeff Glawe), North Mankato, MN, and her Brazilian daughter, Silvia Swor (Mark),
She is also survived by her sister, Marion Susnik, of Sheldon & Florida; 16 grandchildren, 24 great
grandchildren, 12 great great grandchildren and many nieces & nephews.
Cleo was preceded in death by: Husband, Chet, her parents, Edward and Effie (Bromley) NelsonBrothers:
Edward B. Nelson, John Nelson, Norman “Ole” Nelson, Sisters: Ella Debner, Joy Muffley, Virginia Starkey,
Grandson: Douglas Adams and Great grandson: Brice Stayer, Sons-in-law: Don Adams, Mark Stevenson,
and Vern Strasser.
Funeral services will be held at 11AM at the Gilman Funeral Home on Saturday, July 13, with visitation
from 9:00-11:00. Burial will follow at the Yellow River Cemetery, rural Gilman.