Lorraine M. Heise

Lorraine M. Heise

Madison- Lorraine M. Heise, age 87, died January 27, 2014 at Oakwood Village Prairie Ridge.

She was born January 25, 1927 in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, the third daughter of Otto Henry Werth and Wilhelmina (nee) Jahnke. She grew up in West Allis, Wisconsin, attending Nathan Hale High School, but graduating from high school in Hollister, California in 1945, where she had moved to help her older sister Margaret, whose husband was stationed at a nearby Navy base. Living in a new landscape in California inspired her to want to see more of the United States. Over the next five years, she lived in Denver, San Antonio, New Orleans, Miami, Boston, and St. Louis, working as a hotel receptionist in each city and exploring the area in her time off.

On a visit home to West Allis in 1949, she met Robert C. Heise, a US Army veteran, mechanical engineer, and coincidentally, a member of her childhood church. Romance blossomed, and she spent most of their six month engagement in St. Louis, coming back to marry him in West Allis on June 17, 1950, after which they spent their honeymoon camping from northern Wisconsin through Canada to Niagara Falls and back. She was a dedicated wife, mother and homemaker but never lost her drive to travel and explore, organizing family camping trips to the eastern, western, and southern US.

Lorraine was a tireless gardener, birdwatcher, and dressmaker, and a creative chef. She was a lifelong, enthusiastic reader with a wide-ranging taste in books. She was a member of the League of Women Voters and marched for peace. She was a pragmatic idealist, politically liberal as well as generous with time and money for progressive educational and environmental causes. When her children were in their teens, she enrolled at UWM, and graduated from UW-Madison in 1976 with a BS in Education, after Robert became Plant Director at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Before Robert retired, Lorraine embarked on several international trips on her own and with groups, traveling to Europe, Africa, China, and Southeast Asia. She and Robert together visited Israel, Great Britain, Mexico, and the Caribbean. They also traveled throughout Wisconsin and the US in their motor home and eventually bought a winter residence in Mercedes, Texas.

Until she became ill, when home in Madison Lorraine was a volunteer at Grace Episcopal Church as a member of the Altar Guild and one of the founders of its Food Pantry. She volunteered as a literacy tutor both in Madison and in Texas, and was a Friend of the Arboretum for many years as well as a member of the Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association.

Lorraine relished life, art and nature, was never afraid to try something new, and loved learning and teaching; much of her philosophy rubbed off on her children and grandchildren.

She is survived by her two children: Jennifer (James Wehrle) of Stoughton, and Jonathan (Wendy Pinnow Heise) of Brodhead; and three grandsons: Andre Robert Wehrle of Madison, Zachary Thomas Heise of Madison, and Joshua Charles Heise (Rebecca) of Marysville, OH, as well as nieces and nephews in Arizona and California. She was preceded in death by her parents, four sisters, one brother who died in infancy, and her husband Robert, who died in October 2008.

Lorraine’s family wishes to thank the care-giving staff at Oakwood’s HRC who helped Lorraine with love, respect, consideration and skill throughout the last years of her life.

The family will hold a private funeral gathering.

Remembrances may be made to the Madison Public Library Foundation, the Literacy Network, or the Grace Church Food Pantry in Madison.

Cress Funeral Service
206 W. Prospect Street
Stoughton, WI 53589
(608) 873-9244