Lola May (Kilness) Englesby
AUGUSTA -- Lola May (Kilness) Englesby of Augusta, WI, passed away Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, at the Augusta Health & Rehabilitation nursing home at the age of 101 years and 5 months.
Lola was born on September 4, 1918, at her parents', Ole and Katherine (Molland) Kilness, dairy farm in rural Buffalo County, Dover Township, in west-central Wisconsin. Lola was a true child of the Depression, the embodiment of the stereotype of someone who was raised to be and always was extremely thrifty, constantly saving and using sparingly against likely times of want. She really was one of those Depression-era kids who did walk miles through freezing, wintertime cold and snow in order to catch the bus to school, she said, at a spot where she’d save a nickel or a dime rather than catching it earlier, resulting in if not frost bite to her feet, the chilblains that bothered her the rest of her life. But her attention to saving and wise use served her and her future family well in lean times, as she saved and invested prudently and diligently for years in order to provide for her personal care in her old age, first in her own home as long as possible, until July, 2017, when she had to move to the local nursing home.
Lola grew up on the farm and attended schools nearby, but she delayed starting high school for several years in order to be with her severely ill, younger sister Miranda in the former Luther Hospital in Eau Claire, WI. She was the only one in the family who could possibly make the commitment.
After Miranda passed away in 1939, Lola could finally start high school in Gilmanton, WI, and she graduated in only three years. She declined the honor of salutatorian, feeling that one of the younger students should have that distinction. Then, she bravely struck out on her own, having never traveled far before from home, like many of that Greatest, World War II, Generation, for Washington, D. C., to do her part in the war effort. She lived with two close friends from back home who were already in D. C., Lucille Nyre (later, Casper) of Mondovi, WI, and Valorie Gunderson (later, Leschisin) from Gilmanton, working for the government or the military. Lola worked in clerical positions of increasing responsibility in the Department of the Navy, and she would recall that she’d prepare documents for the Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, that would be delivered to him by a courier for his signature. These three lived together, making do with wartime shortages and austere living, forming life-long, fast friendships while working long hours supporting the war effort. They did have some time off, though, when they would have nights out in D. C. going to dances with servicemen and spending some time on weekends in New York City. All of this – the sights and sounds of the big cities and the dances – made a strong impression on these small-town, young women from rural, west-central Wisconsin.
Lola married Philo Nelson Kelley (P. N. K., “Pinky”) Englesby, of Mondovi, WI, on September 5, 1945, in Norwich, CT, where Pinky was still serving in submarines after the end of WW II, and then they moved to Mondovi in November, 1945. Pinky had wanted Lola to marry him back in 1940 and not to finish high school and then go to work. But she decided instead to follow her own way and not to join him where he served in the Navy in San Diego, CA, and later in Hawaii. She would recall that had she married him when he wanted, she’d have been with him at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. They had four children, William Patrick (1946), James Nelson (1947), Jacquelee Ann (1949), and John Nord (1951).
Pinky was hired as the new Chief of Police in Augusta, WI, in July, 1955, moving the family to 718 Hudson St., where Lola made her home until she had to move to the nursing home. Lola took on several jobs while raising her family in order to supplement Pinky's meager, small-town policeman's salary, but her main and most satisfying career was as the high school administrative secretary from 1964 to 1986. She often recalled how she enjoyed helping the numerous superintendents and principals over the years learn and adapt to their new responsibilities, as well as working with the many high school girls hired for office help. She talked about showing them how to do things properly and how to provide good customer service. Years later, some of these women remembered gratefully how Lola helped them get off to a good start in their lives and careers.
Another unrecognized and unsung ‘job’ that she held, though, was that of the wife of a small-town policeman and the only cop in town for most of Pinky’s 22 years as Chief. She would often be awakened at night or have to drop everything at once at home during the day in order to answer the door or the police phone in the house and then try somehow to reach her husband, dealing over the phone with whatever emergency or call for service came in while Pinky was out and usually not readily reachable. This all involved much loss of sleep and considerable stress and worry, but Lola also did this job well.
After she retired, Lola did some traveling around the state and country on her own or with her close friend from town, Betty Taggart. Lola also took up bowling, bicycling, and swimming over the years that followed, and she kept involved with meetings and luncheons of retired Augusta High & Elementary School teachers and staff. She really enjoyed staying in touch with all of them.
Lola was a lifelong, devout Lutheran and a member of Grace Lutheran Church right across from her house all the while living in Augusta. She was always steadfast in her faith and never cursed or swore, unless you count the frequent oaths “Uff-da!”, showing her pure Norwegian heritage, and the much less ethnic but still endearing “Good night shirt!” She was proud of being Norwegian and loved lutefisk and lefse, as well as all the other traditional Norwegian foods and pastries.
Lola was a breast cancer survivor of nearly thirty years, and apart from that major illness, she enjoyed good health and lived alone in her home following Pinky’s death in 2000, up to about age 95, when she broke her right arm and shoulder in a fall at home. She recovered with some limitations but was able to live independently again for a short time until complications of that injury and advanced old age caught up, and she then needed around-the-clock personal care. But that allowed her to meet her goal of staying in her own home as long as possible, until moving to AH&R.
Lola lost many relatives and good friends as the years went by, including those two roommates and lifelong, dear girlfriends from Washington, D. C., and Ruth Harden, her wonderful and very close, good old, dear friend from town with whom she had also worked at the Augusta schools.
She was the last surviving member of her immediate family, predeceased by all of her siblings and their spouses, Margaret (Cecil) Nogle, Lillian (Leslie) Winsand, Lloyd (Virginia Rudy) Kilness, and her younger sister Miranda Kilness. Husband Pinky died in August, 2000. Also preceding her in death are her daughter Jackie Englesby Gort's husband, Jim Gort, and a niece, Jane Winsand (Lillian) Brantner (Ronald).
She is survived by her children, William (Audrey Westlie) Englesby of Augusta, James Englesby, M. D., of Bishop, CA (former wife Susan Bujeaux Englesby of Reno, NV), Jacquelee Englesby Gort (Jim, deceased) of Chippewa Falls, WI, and John (Sandra Lucchesi) Englesby of Madison, WI. Her grandchildren are Laura (William) Farah (Mitch) of Augusta, William Nicholas (William) Englesby of Augusta (former wife Irina Khudneva Englesby of Concord, NC), Evan (James) Englesby (Courtney Ridgel) of Marysville, WA, Emma Englesby (James) of Fort Collins, CO, Carrie (John & Sandra) Hanson (Michael) of Fitchburg, WI, and Lee (Natalie) Eslyn (John & Sandra) of Stamford, CT. Her great-grandchildren are Lauren Holcomb (Laura), Ksenya Englesby (William Nicholas), Maxwell & Ethan Hanson, and Autumn Eslyn.
Lola is also survived by nieces and nephews Kathleen Kilness (Lloyd) Simpson (James) of Minneapolis, MN, Doris Kilness (Lloyd) Gecewicz (Michael) of San Diego, CA, Kirsten Kilness (Lloyd) Heck (Dean, deceased) of rural Mondovi, WI, Carol Winsand (Lillian) Peterson (David, deceased) of rural Independence, WI, Stanley (Judy) Winsand (Lillian) of rural Mondovi, WI, and Alan (Roxanne) Winsand (Lillian) of Middleton, WI.
Lola's wonderful, old and dear friend from Augusta, Delores Staats of Chippewa Falls, WI, also survives her, as does her old friend from Augusta, Betty Taggart of Ellendale, MN.
Finally, Lola is also survived by three dear cousins with whom she remained close over the years: Ruth Kilness Eide of Strum, WI, Evelyn Nyre Cleveland of Los Angeles, CA, and Lorraine Johnson DeBel of Osseo, WI.
Special thanks and recognition go out to Lola's oldest son William and his wife Audrey, who coordinated her care in her own home for several years and also visited her nearly every day, all the while managing her house, property, and finances in her later years. Her daughter Jackie also cared diligently for Lola, days and weeks at a time for months in her mother's home. Exceptional thanks and recognition are gratefully extended, as well, to the many in-home personal care-givers who were with Lola for a couple of years before she had to move to the nursing home. They were special, selfless friends to Lola -- at a time when she really needed them -- who tried hard and always to make her comfortable and happy. They include Claire Smith, Janeen Albrecht, and Vanessa Hernandez. These three were the rock upon which Lola's care was built at the time, along with several others, especially noting Sheri Kramer, who also diligently cared for Lola while she was still in her own home.
The family wishes to sincerely thank all the exceptional staff of the Augusta Health & Rehabilitation nursing home for their compassionate, loving, and skillful, diligent care. For Lola’s 100th birthday, September 4, 1918, AH&R and Lola’s family held a wonderful open house on Sunday, September 2, 2018. Many relatives and friends from near and far came to greet her and celebrate the centennial of her birth.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, at the Anderson Funeral Home in Augusta, and from 10 to 11 a.m. on Saturday at Grace Lutheran Church in Augusta. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the church with burial in the West Lawn Cemetery next to Pinky. A luncheon following the committal will be held at the church.
Flowers and memorials in Lola's memory are much appreciated, including, as desired, to Augusta Health & Rehabilitation and Grace Lutheran Church.
On-line condolences and remembrances may be expressed to the family at www.andersonfhaugusta.com
In addition, a more complete obituary/biography of Lola can be found on that website, and some printed copies will be available, as well, at visitation and the funeral.