Marge Willkom, age 94, of Rice Lake, WI, died on Good Friday, April 2, 2021 at Cambridge Senior Living.

Margie Ann Klein was born on January 10,1927 in Barton, Wisconsin to Ethel and Mathias Klein. Marge graduated from West Bend High School in 1944.  She loved math and physical education.  She attended one year at Milwaukee Teachers College hoping to get a degree in physical education, but could not afford the tuition. Upon returning to West Bend, she worked for B. C. Ziegler and Sons in the Trust Department.  She was an active member in St. Mary’s parish in Barton and an active Girl Scout leader.  

Marge met Bill Willkom in West Bend through a mutual friend.  They fell in love and were married on April 23, 1955, at St. Mary’s Church in Barton, Wisconsin.  Marge left her career in banking and together with Bill, a trained watchmaker through the GI bill, they started Willkom Jewelers.  Their business began in Bloomer and Chetek, and later matured and moved exclusively to Rice Lake, Wisconsin until 1982. During these years, Marge was an active member in her communities belonging to bowling leagues, golf leagues, lap swim and playing volleyball regularly with friends.  She was a member of the Rice Lake Parks and Recreation, committee, instrumental in the building of the Rice Lake municipal swimming pool and starting up the Rice Lake Girls Youth Softball league.  She was also an active member of Friends of St. Francis, League of Women Voters, and an active volunteer at her daughter’s school and St. Joseph’s parish in Rice Lake.

Upon retirement in 1982, Marge wanted to devote more time to her passions and volunteered at St. Joseph’s Rectory a couple days a week.  Her enthusiastic love for her parish turned her volunteerism into a full-time job until around 2000.  She loved registering families and working with the priests and office staff there.

One of Marge’s first passions was reading.  When she was young, she would read the few books she owned over and over again.  She loved supporting Friends of the Library in Rice Lake and others who loved to read.

Another one of Marge’s passions was music.  She enjoyed all kinds of music and loved classical music and Broadway Show Tunes.  She especially loved live music presentations, live musical theater and live theater in general.  She was a long-time supporter of the Red Barn Theater and Northern Star Theater.  She was a member of the Rice Lake Music Federation and enjoyed band concerts, Music in the Park concerts, and Rice Lake High School and St. Joseph School musical performances.  She also was a proud member of the St. Joseph’s Bell Choir and later the funeral choir.  She loved the people she made music with and enjoyed their social time as well.

Marge was an avid sports fan.  She would attribute that love to her father and her older brother, Matt. Before she was married, she would hike with a bunch of friends to a favorite spot and listen to the Packers or Brewers on the radio and knit.  That group called themselves the Nutty Knitters.  She is a huge Brewers, Packers, Wisconsin Hockey, anything Women’s and Men’s Rice Lake High School or St. Joe’s School sports.  She was honored by the special treatment she received at all the Rice Lake High School sporting events, especially basketball. One year, she was considered an “honorary grandparent” despite no relation to anyone on the team.  In 2018, she received recognition by the Rice Lake Sports Hall of Fame for her unwavering support of Warrior Sports.  She attended every Rice Lake High School sporting activity she could, regardless of the weather and was proud to do so.

Marge is survived in death by her daughter Mary Bradford and her son-in-law Matthew Bradford.  She was a proud grandma to Hannah, Elizabeth and Nicole Bradford.  She also very much loved her many nieces, nephews, many great friends and her wonderful and generous neighbors.  Marge was preceded in death by her husband William Willkom, her parents Ethel and Mathias Klein, her brother Matthew and several brothers and sisters-in-laws, nieces and nephews, and many great friends whom she loved.

Marge was a friendly, enthusiastic person who loved God and wanted to leave the world a better place than she found it and she did.

Due to concerns regarding Covid-19, private viewing will begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 7, 2021 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Father Ed Anderson officiating, 111 W. Marshall St., Rice Lake, followed by a private Mass of Christian Burial at 11:30 a.m. with interment at St. Joseph Cemetery.  The funeral Mass will be live streamed on Facebook at Jon Tillung or Four Parishes/One Faith Catholic Cluster.  Appleyard’s Home for Funerals is in charge of the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Joseph Catholic School and the Rice Lake Booster Club.  A more public celebration of Marge’s life will occur later this year when it is safe to gather and celebrate.     

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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