Loretta Piehl, age 87, of Wautoma, passed away Wednesday, May 10, 2023 at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center in Appleton. She was born May 13, 1935, in Cylinder, Iowa, the daughter of Harry Sr. and Selma (Jacobson) Barkve. Loretta grew up on her dad’s farm in Depew, IA, along with her siblings, Marguerite, Irene and Harry Jr. (Sonny). She attended a 1-room schoolhouse until 8th grade and graduated from Cylinder High School in 1953 along with only 12 classmates. She enrolled at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN where she began her studies in nursing. After a year, she transferred to Bethesda Hospital School of Nursing where she earned an R.N. in 1957. She met Ray Piehl at a relative’s wedding, and they hit it off immediately. They got married on June 13, 1959. Loretta and Ray started their life together in Chippewa Falls, WI, and moved to Wautoma in 1970 to raise their young family after Ray was hired at Union State Bank.
Loretta’s faith was extremely important to her, and she was an active member of Hope Lutheran Church. She taught Sunday School and Bible School for many years, was a sponsor for the Young Christians group for over 25 years, and was heavily involved in the various women’s groups there. She was a founder, with Audrey Schwandt, of a Norwegian-themed fair, which became an annual fundraising event. For over 25 years, she created custom baptismal banners for each child baptized at Hope. She also sang in the choir for 34 years. In the 1990s, she served two terms on the Board of Directors of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
In addition to her work in the church, Loretta contributed to various organizations that her children participated in, including as a den mother in Cub Scouts and as community leader with Campfire Girls. She also felt that it was important for her kids to experience other cultures, so over the years, along with Ray, their family hosted four exchange students sponsored by Rotary International: Masahiro Yanagida from Japan in 1975, Jaakko Larma from Finland in 1979, Hans Ramel from Sweden in 1983 and Rodrigo Pineda from Chile in 1986.
Another passion of Loretta’s was baking. Christmas in the Piehl household was filled with the smells of her delicious Norwegian specialties – krumkake, fattigman, lefse, kringla and more. Over the years she also baked thousands of specialty cakes for friends and family, including at least two wedding cakes which everyone in the family can remember being transported under her very watchful eye to the wedding destination in the back of their Ford.
When Nordic Mountain opened in Mt. Morris in 1976, Loretta became certified to serve on the Ski Patrol for several years until a skiing accident at Cascade Mountain forced her off the slopes. She continued to use her background in nursing to serve as a medical advisor to the ski patrol at Nordic.
She is survived by her husband of 63 years, Ray Piehl, Wautoma; her children, son Dave (Pete Quinnan); daughter Sue (John) Bauer; grandchildren, Hannah Blija, Anja Blija and Grace Bauer; further survived by sister-in-law Gloria (Harry Jr.) Barkve, nieces, nephews, other relatives and many special friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, sisters Marguerite (Ervin) Berkland, Irene (Lloyd) Strand and brother Harry Barkve Jr.; nieces Janelle Berkland Shain and Barb Berkland; and nephews Scott Barkve, Rich Berkland and Larry Berkland.
Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at Hope Lutheran Church, Wautoma. Loretta will be laid to rest in the Hope Lutheran Cemetery, Wautoma. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 16, 2023 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church and on Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of services at the church.
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