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Georgann Koelln KILBANE

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Georgann Koelln KILBANE Obituary
Wife, Mother, Grandma, Proprietor, Fashion & Features Writer, Photographer Died Monday at her home in Houlton, Wisconsin, from a rare form of cancer. She was 74. Georgann was raised on a farm in western Wisconsin with her sister, father, and mother. The farm, dating from 1840, was built by her grandparents. In her formative years, she developed an interest in photography and strove to become a journalist from early on, despite gender barriers of the time. She reunited with her former Kindergarten classmate, Dennis Kilbane, while alpine skiing at Telemark. They later married and moved to St. Paul. She completed journalism school and became a fashion and features writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. She photographed and reported on fashion shows and features, and developed photos in her basement darkroom. She and husband Dennis raced sailboats while living on Big Island on Lake Minnetonka during the summers that followed their marriage. They rehabilitated an injured jaguar cub from a local zoo, which they cherished and raised to adulthood out on the island. Georgann and Denny divided their free time between Bayfield, Wisconsin where they enjoyed boating on the Great Lakes, and Park City, Utah as avid skiers and hikers. After a fulfilling 35-year career at the newspaper, she retired and bought the Stillwater Farm Store in Stillwater, where she thought nothing of lifting 50-pound sacks of birdseed and animal feed. In her later years, she would spend some of her happiest hours at her grandmother's former Wisconsin farm in St. Joseph Township. As owner, she did chores on the tractor, maintained large vegetable and flower gardens, and restored and renovated the main house and outbuildings. Georgann maintained unique humility and a work ethic that never clouded her origins. This was apparent immediately in her friendly demeanor. She loved people, was resourceful and humble, felt strongly about environmental conservation, and had a great curiosity about the world. She will be deeply missed. Koelln was preceded in death by her parents, Ted and Rita Koelln, sister Thea (Dean) Kottke, sister-in-law Sandy (Gary) Griswold, and nephew Ted Kottke. Besides her husband Dennis and son Craig, she is survived by daughter-in-law, Susan, and granddaughter Quinn. Other dear family includes sister-in-law Pat Kilbane, brother-in-law Jim (Colleen) Kilbane, and nephew Gary (Jill) Kottke. A gathering to remember Georgann will be from 2 to 6 p.m. May 10 at her farm, Fire #132, Highway 35 and 64, St. Joseph Township, Wis. Memorials are preferred to the Mayo Clinic. (This obituary is based on an article in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, posted 4/28/14 by Mary Ann Grossmann.)
Published in Pioneer Press from Apr. 29 to May 4, 2014
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