It is with sad and joyous emotion, Colleen Gerrits has been lifted to heaven early in the morning of October 6, 2020 to be with her wonderful husband of 59 years, Dennis Gerrits. He has been waiting for her since his passing on November 11, 2014. She slipped away quietly and peacefully surrounded by her family and the compassionate staff of the Sharon Richardson Hospice Center.
Colleen Mabel Mitchell born on May 15, 1932 to Irvin & Stella Mitchell in Cadott, Wisconsin. Colleen graduated from Cadott High School in 1950 and went onto Stout State University to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher. Colleen graduated from Stout with a Home Economics teaching degree in 1954. Colleen’s first teaching job was at Luck High School in Luck, Wisconsin. It was while she was a student at Stout when she met Dennis Gerrits, while he was home on leave in 1952 from his Army Air Corp assignment in California. They continued to stay in touch with many love letters between Wisconsin and California. They became engaged as Colleen was finishing her college studies. Colleen often shared that she said, “Yes,” with the understanding that she wanted to have at least a year of teaching experience before marriage. Dennis must have decided she was worth the wait, and they were married in Cadott, Wisconsin on July 23, 1955.
They moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to start their married life together where Dennis worked for the Wisconsin Gas Company for 30+ years. Colleen taught at different high schools and technical schools in the Milwaukee area during those early years. Eventually settling in Grafton, Wisconsin where they purchased their first home. Colleen was a career mother, always pursuing her love of sewing through the years of raising their eight children. She taught night school classes at the Technical School in Port Washington, WI which became part of Milwaukee Area Technical School (MATC). She continued teaching at MATC through the years until a Home Economics teaching job at Grafton High School became available in 1976. She taught at GHS for 17 years, where she finished her teaching career in 1993. She taught for a grand total of 40 years! She has many great stories and memories of her teaching years. As a kind observer shared with me, “I think your mother taught sewing to everyone in Ozaukee County during those years!”
After her retirement in 1993, she and Dennis sold their home on 13th Ave. in Grafton, Wisconsin to move on to the next chapter in their married life, Retirement. They relocated to Woodruff, Wisconsin where together they volunteered weekly with Meals on Wheels and attended daily mass at their parish. They enjoyed their retirement life in the Northwoods, with their neighbors and friends in their senior community.
She is the loving mother to Shawn (Barb) Gerrits, Mary Dickey, Kevin (Kari) Gerrits, Maureen (David) Kipp, Nicholas (Katherine) Gerrits, Andrew (Kathy) Gerrits, Kathleen (Todd) Tutas, and Samual (Anne) Gerrits. Colleen and Dennis were blessed with 22 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Colleen is preceded in death by her parents, sister, and two brothers, her loving husband, Dennis, and most recently her great granddaughter, Paisley Christine.
A visitation will be held at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 818 Huron Ave. Sheboygan on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 from 10 a.m. until the time of mass at 11 a.m. Fr. Mark Brandl will officiate. Masks and social distancing are required. Burial will follow in the Calvary Cemetery.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.reinboldfh.com
In lieu of flowers a memorial fund in Colleen’s name has been established for the Grafton Community Scholarship Fund.
The family wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff of the Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice.