Lorraine Emma Mathilda (Wendt) Baneck
Lorraine Emma Mathilda (Wendt) Baneck arrived at her eternal home on Feb. 24, 2019, after 95 years of a full and fruitful life. She was a woman of great faith, whose favorite hymn was “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” A beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, cousin and friend, she will be missed by those to whom she gave so much love and for her many acts of kindness. In her later years, family, friends and care-givers called her GG.
Lorraine was born on June 19, 1923, at the home of her parents, William F. Wendt and Lydia H. Filenius Wendt, on Rocky Lane Drive in the Town of Concord. She was a baptized and confirmed member of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Concord. Shortly after her confirmation, the Wendts joined St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Rome, Wisconsin. She married Ernest A. Baneck on Oct. 25, 1947, at St. Luke’s. Lorraine and Ernest lived in Golden Lake until 1951, when they bought a farm in Concord on Highway 30 (now Interstate 94). They had two daughters, Renee Louise and Devonne Ann. In 1964, after leaving the farm, the Banecks joined Immanuel Lutheran Church in Watertown.
Growing up, a bit of a sassy redhead with her father’s bright blue eyes, Lorraine was doted upon by her paternal grandmother, Mathilda Wendt and her maternal aunt, Emma Filenius Traeder. She was very fond of her brother Billy -- though she couldn’t always keep him out of trouble. At Pioneer School she had many friends, including Evelyn Buth, Myrtle Dobratz and Grace Baneck. Prior to her confirmation, she attended parochial school at Stephen’s, staying with her aunt, Edna Wendt Brandt, but returned to Pioneer to finish eighth grade. So that she could go to high school, Lorraine lived in a flat in Jefferson during the week. An excellent student, she had a leading role in the senior class play. She graduated from Jefferson High School in 1940. To earn money to further her education, she did housework in Sullivan. After completing several courses at Miss Brown’s School of Business in Milwaukee, she worked for the Steckhan Furniture Company in Milwaukee.
Lorraine’s days as a farmer’s wife and the mother of two girls were filled with many tasks: baking bread and cookies, feeding calves, making pickles, freezing sweet corn, picking strawberries, sewing dresses and curtains, washing overalls, mid-week and Friday cleaning, roasting holiday turkeys and much more. She got a lot of satisfaction from working hard -- on the farm, which she called Windy Mountain, and later in The Woods.
For many years, Lorraine worked in Watertown, doing clerical work and accounting. She was employed by Bethesda Lutheran Homes, Watertown Hospital, the A. Kramp Company and by Peg and Tim Theder. Her diligence, integrity, outgoing personality, and cheery (“What can I do for you?”) approach were much appreciated by employers, co-workers and customers.
Serving her church and being engaged in the community were very important to Lorraine throughout her life. At St. Luke’s she was active in the Ladies Aid Society. She took car loads of kids to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. For several years she taught the 3-year-old Sunday School class at St. Luke’s. Lorraine was a member of the Pioneer Homemakers Club, charter president of the Concord Community Club, and general leader of the Concord Center Clovers 4-H Club. In Watertown she served as an officer in a local AARP chapter. In her later years she joined the Concord Historical Society.
At Immanuel Lutheran Church in Watertown, where Lorraine gained a sisterhood of new friends, she belonged to both the Elizabeth and Rebecca Circles of the Women of the ELCA. She served as an officer in WELCA’s Beaver Dam Conference. As a communion minister for the homebound, in addition to serving the Lord, she offered friendship and support. On Sunday mornings, she read from the Scriptures with much expression. She joined Immanuel’s quilters, loaning them her vintage Singer and providing oodles of fabric. She participated in Bible study sessions, a women’s book club, and she kept the prayer chain going.
Lorraine had a fine mind. She did quite a lot of reading and independent studying until her eyesight failed. She liked to look things up in the Encyclopedia Britannica and, especially, in her full set of the Interpreter’s Bible. She kept up with current events and was concerned with what was happening far beyond her corner of the world. She encouraged young people to continue their studies, just as her own mother had encouraged her. In one way or another she contributed to the higher education of Renee, Devonne, Sara, Johnny B, Johann, and Lydia.
Family was an inclusive notion that enriched Lorraine’s life. Her daughters brought home friends and the circle kept expanding. Friends of friends got caught in the web, too. She brought joy to the Antiques at their luncheon meetings. That is why she has so many survivors, many more than can be named here.
Lorraine was preceded in death by her husband, Ernest; by her parents, two infant brothers, and her brother William A. Wendt and his wife Lucille; by a great-grandson Alanzo Edward Waiswa; by Marilyn Filenius Wegner; and by Diane Eiden. She is survived by her daughters Renee Baneck Tantala, Devonne Baneck (Jeff Sainio), two grandchildren Johann Frederick Kisaame and Lydia Louise Nabirye (Earl Cookson), great-granddaughter Fenja Lorraine Nankwanga; by Sara Perkins (Earl Sommerfeld), Jessica Cremer, Jacob Cremer, and Sara Ann Sommerfeld; by Jennifer Johnson Hedrick, Rod Johnson and family; by her god-children Irvin Bankert, Karen Buth Schadt, and Randall Wegner; by Richard Tantala, Margaret Kisansa, and Sarah Kyamulesire; and by Elaine Wilharms Wenzel, her sister-friend for more than 90 years.
Sharing her love and helping others was the purpose that gave meaning to Lorraine’s life. Praise the Lord and follow her example of service to family, friends, community, and the greater good of all.
The family wants to thank all of her caregivers at The Matthews in Glendale and Allay Hospice for their care and support. She was their GG, too.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 9, at 2 p.m., at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Watertown with Rev. Todd Iverson officiating. Relatives and friends may gather at the church from noon until the time of the service. Interment will take place at a later date at Pioneer Cemetery in Concord.
In lieu of flowers, the family will appreciate donations to the WELCA (c/o Immanuel Lutheran Church), Lutheran World Relief, Bread for the World, Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity, and the Concord Historical Society. Hafemeister Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Watertown is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at www.hafemeisterfh.com.
Hafemeister Funeral Home and Cremation Service
611 E. Main St. P.O. Box 475 Watertown