Irene Mae Radke, age 87 of Bayfield, passed away on Tuesday, December 29, 2020 at Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City West, Arizona. She was born on August 2, 1933 in Milwaukee, the daughter of Eugene and Ada (O’Day) Durand.
Irene graduated from Bayview High School in Milwaukee. She was a beloved mother to 5 children, grandmother to 10, and great grandmother to 18. Irene was full of love, life, and spirit. Although not a world traveler by any means, she was well traveled … by foot. Afraid to drive a car, Irene made it through life by way of her own two feet. As a mother, she would walk to the Braves games with her son 3 miles one way. As a grandmother, she would walk … well anywhere with her grandkids. Whether it had been to the City Pool in Milwaukee or the Nursing Home in Washburn, she would walk. She also led by example for her son’s cub scouts group as their “Den Mother.” Teaching them the lyrics to their “Pack of 18 and Den of 6” song while the scout’s tap dancing was choreographed by Irene’s brother “Buzzy.”
In her earlier years, while still living in Milwaukee, she worked for places such as Allen Bradley, Woolworths, and other numerous restaurants. Later, while living in Bayfield, she was a cheerfully devoted bartender/waitress at the ever famous Maggie’s Restaurant which she boasted as being her best job. The most recent years led to her devotion of preparing and perfecting one hell of a raspberry shortcake for visitors of the Bayfield Heritage Society. She, without a doubt, took pride in all that she did and had a way of perfecting everything she touched. The impeccable detail to her vast, which seems like an understatement to those who have seen it, Raggedy Ann and Andy collection, drew the attention of many (she even invited tourists inside of her brilliant Victorian home to enjoy the endless rooms of her incredible assortment).
Aspiringly, she cared deeply and endlessly for her mother, Ada, throughout her final years and made sure to scoop her up her favorite dessert of butterscotch pudding with mandarin oranges … it’s a must try but don’t forget the whipped cream. She was also known for serving up a delicious banana split every now and again for her youngsters for dinner (a great substitute for the usual tuna fish casserole). One of her all-time favorite pastimes was watching the Green Bay Packers. As an avid fan, she had attended many games while they still played in Milwaukee, attended the Ice Bowl (which she could speak endlessly about), and watched them every Sunday on TV. She also enjoyed playing Cribbage her entire life and taught many the game (friends, family, grandkids, and her husband Dick – who ultimately later thought he invented the game). She loved oldies, singing, dancing, and making up funnies on the fly. Irene was known for her whit and sense of humor. A favorite joke for the grandkids was, “What do you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino? … Ellifino!” That will never get old.
Her love of warmth and sunshine led to her snowbird migration to Arizona every winter. There she made many friends and left her footprints in the community. As was true for family gatherings, she rarely missed an opportunity to attend community gatherings in Arizona as well. To wrap things ups, we’ll end with a few family “insiders” … Never EVER touch her candy dish without asking, never EVER whisper in her house, and ALWAYS fix the frills on the edge of the rug if you flip them up. As mentioned earlier, she paid attention to detail and her beautiful home reflected that. One time her husband (Dick) accidentally spilled a drop of food coloring in the sink for the bird feeder. He began to wipe it up but it only smudged into a much bigger mess. He responded, and I quote, “I was so scared my THOUGHTS were stuttering!” We are still laughing out loud about this one. Irene will be missed greatly but her memories will fill our hearts forever. Rest peacefully where life is lighter and brighter than ever. Dance to your favorite Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole songs while we’re here longing for your famous smooches. You are already missed dearly.
She is survived by her husband, Richard “Poppy” Radke, 5 children, Richard (Marian) Wszalek, Kathy (Al) Radke, Sharon Wszalek, Mary (Chuck) Meyers and Diane (Ryan) Sandler, 10 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents, 2 brothers, Fred and Archie “Buzzy” Durand and a sister, Katherine Politowski.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Our Lady Of Fatima Church in Port Washington, NY at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Irene’s entire family would like to thank Poppy for the wonderful care he has given Mom over the past few years and he has always been there for her with her many needs.
The Bratley Funeral Home in Washburn, WI is assisting the family with arrangements.
To view this obituary online, sign the guestbook or express online condolences, visit us at www.bratleyfamilyfuneralhomes.com