Delores May (Schmidtknecht) Merchlewitz, affectionately known as “Tootsie” or “Toots”, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Saturday, April 8, 2023, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Home in Rushford, MN.
Delores was born on December 27, 1929, in Waumandee, WI, but lived her childhood years in Arcadia, WI. Her first job in Arcadia, WI was cleaning at the St. Joseph’s Hospital, followed by working as a clerk and buyer for Machere’s clothing store.
At age 16, she bravely chose to move to Winona, MN on her own to live in a dorm room on the campus of St. Theresa’s College. During this time she worked at The Tea House and served meals to the young women attending school on campus. She sent her paychecks back home to help support a struggling family at the time, and for this reason missed out on the opportunity to attend high school. This supreme sacrifice speaks volumes about the type of character and compassion she conveyed for her family members back home. Following her stint at The Tea House, she waitressed at Kupie Restaurant in downtown Winona, where she began her lifelong love affair with Robert (Bobby) Merchlewitz. After Bobby pulled up that stool along the counter at Kupie and he and Delores exchanged looks, the deal was sealed, they had eyes for no others.
On the beautiful spring day of May 21, 1955, Delores married Bobby on the altar of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church. She was showered with all his love and affection after that, along with door-to-door service through the years.
Tootsie, during their life together, was a stay-at-home mother and caregiver to all. Best known for the way in which she adopted many elderly neighbors, friends, and relatives. She was a chauffeur to people to and from their doctor appointments, grocery store visits, and often showed her love for them by cooking them all delicious, warm evening meals, which she delivered to their doors with her beautiful smile and graceful style.
This little lady was a master chef in the kitchen and could have given her idol, Paula Dean, a run for her money in any kitchen cook off.
Toots loved holiday entertaining and Christmas was by far her favorite of all holidays and “her shining moment” in the sun.
She excelled at making homemade divinity, fudge, and German potato salad, along with many varieties of hearty, flavorful soups.
Her daily morning routine, a little prayer time with Jesus, The Price is Right like clockwork at 10 a.m., and a little sassy Judge Judy with lunch. Her home was her sacred place, and she took great pride in it throughout the years. She loved her family, a big JUMBO shrimp dinner from time to time, and a nice cold Miller Lite.
Tootsie was a model of strong will and sheer determination right up until the end of her journey on earth. Her feistiness will be dearly missed.
Delores was preceded in death by her sweet parents: William “Billie” Schmidtknecht and Ottilia “Tillie” Schmidtknecht; her brother, Lester Schmidtknecht, and sister, Janice McCluskey; her dashing husband, Robert “Bobby” Merchlewitz; and her loving son, Gregory Scott Merchlewitz.
Tootsie is survived by her children: Paul (Cindy) Merchlewitz and Lisa Merchlewitz; grandchildren: Ryan (Jennifer) Choi, Megan (John) Beckman, Zachary Bailey, and Allison (Parker Wawerka) Bailey; and two great-grandchildren.
A special thank you to Dr. Richard Ferris for his superior care, all the people who assisted Delores in the later years of her life, as well as the staff of Good Shepherd Lutheran Home and St. Croix Hospice services for their love and care for Delores.
A private memorial service will be held for the immediate family only.
Online condolences or memories may be left for Toots’ family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.
Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.