Mildred M. Gruber, 94, a long-time resident of Marshfield, passed away on Friday, February 19, 2021, at Wells Nature View Assisted Living, 601 E. 21st Street, Marshfield.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1:30 pm on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, at St. John’s Catholic Church, Marshfield, where the visitation will be from 12:30 pm until service time. Rembs Funeral Home is assisting the family and the service will be live-streamed at www.facebook.com/rembsfuneralhomes.Rev. Daniel Williams will officiate. Burial will be in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Marshfield.
Mildred was born on January 11, 1927, in the Town of Cleveland, Marathon County, to Peter and Gertrude (Daul) Kafka. She attended Sunshine School in the Town of Cleveland and St. Mary’s Parochial School in Auburndale. She was united in marriage to Edwin L. Gruber in 1950 and he died on September 22, 1979. Her beloved only son, James Edward Gruber passed away in 2019. A sociology professor, he paid tribute to her loving guidance and remarkable strength of character throughout his life.
Mildred had a long and productive life, including wartime responsibilities that were unusual for a woman of her era. She was a remarkably strong, can-do person. Like iconic Rosie the Riveter, she worked as a riveter for Weinbrenner Shoe Factory for 30 plus years, along with her sister, Isabelle Kafka. Mildred was the first female union steward at the factory, a testament to her work ethic and the respect of her peers. With her sister, she once quit her job in protest over an inequity, and the company sent representatives to their home to woo them back. After retiring, she had a second career as a day-care provider, with her sister Isabelle, for the next quarter-century. Together they helped raise dozens of children, beginning in the 1980’s with the Hilgemann family (Justin, Joshua and Jennilee), the Adamskis (Elizabeth and David), and the Berriers (Ben and Adam)). She considered those children, and eventually their children, as her own family. Mildred and Isabelle operated the daycare until 2002 when Isabelle passed away. The parents of those early day-care children remained fast friends to the end, watching over her and visiting her frequently during her residence at Wells Nature View Assisted Living, where she was lovingly cared for.
Reading and traveling were two of her favorite hobbies. Her son had especially happy memories of family road trips to sites across the country when he was young – a car full of adventurous travelers (including his maternal grandfather and aunt) in an un-air-conditioned car heading for points of interest like the Grand Canyon. Mildred also enjoyed fishing at the family cottage on Lake Mohawksin in Tomahawk, WI, where the family spent summer vacations every year since the 1960’s. Many family friends shared happy times at the cottage.
In addition to her husband Edwin and son Jim, she is preceded in death by her parents, four brothers, and three sisters.
A special thanks to the staff at Wells Nature View at 601 E. 21st St. and St. Croix Hospice for their kind and loving care.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be designated in her name to the American Cancer Society, Children’s Wisconsin-Childlife, or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Condolences may be sent online to www.rembsfh.com