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Mildred Ten Broek

1921- 2017

 

IOLA ó Mildred Ten Broek, 95, was born in Milwaukee on Nov. 22, 1921. She died on Saturday, June 10, 2017, in Iola.

 

Her funeral service will be on Friday, June 30, at 10 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Watertown, where she was a member for over 30 years. Burial will be at Oak Hill Cemetery in Watertown.

 

Mildred lived her life the way she wanted. She had to overcome the expectations of how a woman of her age would act, first as the daughter of a professional family, and then as the wife of a preacher. She found ways to do both.

 

Growing up in Wisconsin, she received a classical education, resulting in her achieving at age 21 the position of first chair violinist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. She received advanced education in business, but she declined to join her parents and sisters in office/accounting roles. Instead, she married her husband, Wayne, and moved to the Wild West of the Dakotas.

 

Her home was filled with plants, books and music. One of her most prized possessions was her stereo, which played both classical and Broadway show tunes. Her annual trips back to Milwaukee always included stops at St. Vincent de Paul to load up on books. She read a book a day up to her last days. When the time came to move from South Dakota back to Wisconsin, 700 live plants were part of the move. Her house was the one where the neighborhood kids came to play.

 

She lived in Mobridge, South Dakota, for 25 years as the wife of a professor at the academy. During that time, wives were not expected to have careers outside the home. But when another professorís wife became a nurse, she had the required precedent to become a nurseís aide. During this time, she also cared for her five children, sewing their clothing and supporting their studies. After the children were in school, she started her own business.

 

Mildred owned and successfully operated Ten Broek Upholstery for 15 years. It was a great outlet for her creative juices. One of her specialties was custom-built round couches, which she built from scratch on a base of reclaimed round coffee tables. Many homes and businesses in and around Mobridge included her work. But she could also be a hard-nosed businesswoman. When a large commercial customer wanted to renegotiate the price after the work was done, she took him to court. When he called to tell her that the only way he could pay would be to take money out of his personal savings, she told him that would work for her. She got paid. It was the money she earned that enabled her children to start their continuing education.

 

After moving to Watertown, she wanted to add to the small farmhouse they had purchased. While her husband was off to summer school, and while she was 60 years old, she doubled the size of their home. She did it with her own labor, cajoled help and many reclaimed materials. She was truly someone who came of age in the 30s. Both she and Wayne knew how to get the most out of whatever they had. Her addition included a large master bedroom on the second floor and a two-story greenhouse at the rear. Even more plants followed.

 

She and Wayne traveled the U.S. in retirement. At first, they had a pickup with a camper. Later they bought a small RV. They got to every state except Hawaii.

 

Mildred was never happier than when she was surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All her children were able to spend her last week with her.

 

Mildred outlived her three sisters and one daughter, Joyce. Her husband, Wayne, died in 2013.

 

Mildred is survived by her four remaining children, Anita (Robert) Olson of Waupaca, Dorothy (James) Smith of Victoria, Texas, Garret Ten Broek of Rapid City, South Dakota, and Arne (Jackie) Ten Broek of Conifer, Colorado, and by eight grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

 

A. J. Holly & Sons Funeral Home 526 S. Main St. Waupaca

 

 

 

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