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Lucile F. Fessler

Obituary
  • " We have lost another of "the greatest generation". Our..."
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    - Sarah Sonnentag
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Fessler, Lucile F

Lucile Flaccus Fessler, age 100, died peacefully October 18, 2013, at the Golden Living Center in Sheboygan while under Sharon S. Richardson hospice care.

Lucile was born November 8, 1912 in Ben Avon, Pittsburgh, PA, the daughter of Edward and Lulu Flaccus. In 1934, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Departmental Honors in Geology from Wellesley College. While studying at Wellesley, Lucile was recognized on the academic honor roll and was elected a member of the College's prestigious Zeta Alpha Literature and Poetry Society. After meeting Jacob ("Jake") Fessler while he studied law at Harvard University in Cambridge, the two were married in December 1933 and returned the following summer to establish their life-long residence in Sheboygan.

While supporting the establishment of Jake's law practice in Sheboygan, including participating actively in his two successful campaigns as County District Attorney - followed by an unsuccessful bid for the Sixth District U.S. Congressional seat, Lucile and Jake started a family. As Jake was called to military service in the Pacific as an officer in the Navy Judge Advocate Generals Corps, 1942-1945, Lucile continued to raise their two young daughters Lucile (Snooky) and Jacqueline (Jacky). After Jake deployed to Pearl Harbor as senior defense counsel on the staff of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Lucile gave birth to the couple's son, Anthony (Tony).

After being reunited following war's end, the family enjoyed summer and fall trips to their beloved seasonal cottage on Door County's Washington Island. A devoted sportswoman, Lucile actively pursued fishing, dry fly tying and occasional pheasant hunting trips with Jake. She loved water recreation in particular, often organizing family vacations to tropical ocean-side resorts in Florida, the Caribbean and elsewhere.

As her children left the area to begin their own lives, Lucile embarked upon an extraordinary level of involvement in a broad range of civic, non-profit and charitable organizations. An accomplished manager, communicator, and person of high energy, Lucile was appointed or elected to numerous positions of senior leadership and responsibility in an extensive number of organizations at the local, state and national levels.

In the Sheboygan area, Lucile served as president and an active member of numerous civic organizations including the Sheboygan Women's Club, the American Association of University Women, the Town and Country Garden Club, and the King's Daughters. She was elected president of the State Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Along with Jake, Lucile was a devoted member of their beloved Sheboygan Yacht Club. At her passing, Lucile was the longest continuous serving flag member of the Club.

Through the 1960s well into the 1980s, Lucile was active in the National Association of Women's Highway Safety Leaders, being elected to serve as its national president 1979-1980. During this period, she was appointed by Governor Warren P. Knowles to serve as an advisor and member on the Wisconsin State Highway Safety Advisory Committee. Her outspoken advocacy for highway safety was recognized as significantly contributing to the adoption of both national and state legislation requiring the installation of seat belts in motor vehicles and requiring helmets for motorcyclists.

Lucile was appointed as the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors for the Citizens Bank of Sheboygan. As a founding board member from 1983, Lucile was instrumental in the establishment of the Ellwood H. Maywood Environmental Park. In 2005, in recognition of her years of service to Maywood, its board awarded Lucile its prestigious President's Award. Lucile was also elected to the Board of Trustees for Lakeland College, where she served in several capacities including that of Board Chair. Resigning with over thirty years of service in 2003, the longest tenure of any trustee in the College's history, Lucile was elected to the status of Trustee Emeritus. In June of that year, the College recognized Lucile for her service to the College, awarding her an honorary doctoral degree.

Lucile's numerous awards and recognitions included The Sheboygan Kiwanis Club's Distinguished Citizens Award 1971-72, the U.S. Department of Transportation Award of Public Service 1979-80, the Medal of Merit for Civic Achievement from the Garden Club of America 1980, and the first woman to be honored by the Sheboygan Rotary Club through her selection in 1985 for its prestigious Good Citizen of the Year Award.

Lucile and Jake, occasionally joined by other members of their family and friends, traveled extensively throughout the world during the 1960s to the early 1980s. Their exploration included visits to exotic places on all seven continents and allowed Lucile to pursue her intense interest in photography. Lucile was well known throughout the Sheboygan County area for her imaginative 35mm travel log presentations to area civic organizations and service clubs. Lucile continued her world travels until approximately 2010, often taking her daughters and grandchildren on overseas trips, which on occasion, included classes at European gourmet cooking schools.

Lucile is survived by her son-in-law and his spouse, J. Michael Kohler Jr. and his wife Lilly of Spartanburg, SC; four Kohler grandsons, John Michael IV (Jeff) Kohler and his wife Ruth of Glenview, IL; a great granddaughter Elaine Kohler; Dr. Matthew Kohler of Charleston, SC; a great granddaughter Hannah Kohler, great grandsons Seth Kohler and Jacob Kohler, and their Mother Jacqueline Kohler of Vermont; Andrew Kohler of Morris Plains, NJ; Stephen Kohler and his wife Shelly of Northbrook, IL and great grandsons Jonah Kohler and Lucas Kohler. Lucile is also survived by her daughter Jacky Hollingsworth of LaCanada, CA, granddaughter Elizabeth (Betsy) Tracy and her husband Glen of Glenview, IL; great grandson Clark Roberts, and great granddaughters Mackenzie Roberts and Skye Roberts and their father John Roberts; by grand daughter Virginia (Jinny) Magill of South Pasadena, and great grandson Sean Magill and his father Peter Magill. Lucile is also survived by her son, Attorney Tony Fessler and his wife Leda of Sheboygan, granddaughter Kathryn (Kate) Fessler and her mother Sherrie Fessler of Kailua, HI, and grandson, Colin Fessler of Sheboygan. She is also survived by her niece and her husband, Nancy and Bob Erickson of Sheboygan as well as a cousin-in-law, Ellerth Overboe of Evanston, IL.

In addition to her parents and husband, Lucile was preceded in death by her sisters Priscilla and Eleanor Flaccus of Pittsburgh, PA, her eldest daughter Lucile (Snooky) Kohler of Spartanburg, SC, and her son-in-law, John Hollingsworth. Her beloved cousin Doris Overboe of Evanston, IL also precedes her in death.

Visitation will be between 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at the Grace Episcopal Church, 1011 N 7th Street, Sheboygan. Family and friends may gather at the Church Friday, October 25, 2013, from 9:00 AM until reflections by selected family members at 10:00 AM and a funeral mass at 10:30 AM celebrated by the Father Karl Schaffenburg.

Memorial funds have been established in Lucile's name at the Ellwood H. May Environmental Park and the Grace Episcopal Church of Sheboygan.

The Olson Funeral Home & Cremation Service is serving the family.

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Published in Sheboygan Press on Oct. 22, 2013
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