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Shirley Ann (Braatz) Kauphusman, age 85, of Winona, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, from complications due to a stroke.
She was born in Winona, Minnesota, June 13, 1937, to Theodore and Elizabeth (Malenke) Braatz. She was the third child to the Pickwick valley couple and was the first baby to be baptized in St. Luke’s Church in Pickwick, Minnesota. A church, she would spend a lifetime of worshipping in and as their organist for 70+ years. From a young age, Shirley was interested in music. Each evening after the family meal, the Braatz children all practiced and performed their music for the family on the piano and in song. Often, “Sido” as her father called her, was at the keys and sister Donna (“Dickie”) and brother Gary (“Duke”) were singing to her notes with the family dog often at their side.
Shirley attended Pickwick and Phelps Grade schools and graduated from Winona Senior High School in 1955. After high school, Shirley immediately went to work for Warner & Swasey/Badger Machine. On May 4, 1963, she married Edward L. Kauphusman in Winona. They were married 42 years before his passing in 2005. Shirley and Ed welcomed their first child, Sandra, in April 1965 and daughter Nancy in February 1969. Shirley stayed at home with the young girls until rejoining the work force in the late 1970’s where she began her long career at Winona County. She worked in several departments throughout the years including the Assistant County Attorneys and Assessors offices and retired in 2004 as Deputy County Auditor.
A member of the Pickwick Mill Association and Winona County Old Settler Association, Shirley also bowled for various teams (Hamernik’s Bar, Mankato and Shorty’s Bar and the Eagles Club) and was a member of the 600-club. Music, however, was her passion. Shirley had such a talent that she played in several bands, (The Blue Diamonds, The Noteworthy’s, & Ron’s Old Thyme Country Band) playing the accordion and then to keyboarding, often playing by memory. She could easily jump into an impromptu jam session, chording in, not missing a note and of course, no sheet music required. With Ron’s Old Thyme Band, they recorded and produced three CD’s but most importantly, they played at many senior health care centers which brought so much joy to the residents but more so to Shirley. Shirley was the church organist for St. Luke’s Church in Pickwick, MN, serving the Lord for 70+ years. In 2022, the congregation recognized and celebrated her 70th jubilee. She was honored and humbled to be recognized for doing something, she held so dear to heart—and to be honored at the same year that Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 70th jubilee! Shirley and Ed also spent much time at the Winona Fraternal Order of Eagles often volunteering to work fish fry’s, steak fry’s and sauerkraut dinners. Every New Years’ Eve, the club members enjoyed the prime rib dinner that boasted, and publicly advertised “Shirley’s Famous Salad Bar!”
Family meant the most to her and Ed. Their door was always open to family and friends, most just walking in, heading over to the snack corner of the kitchen (of course always plentiful with selections of homemade cookies or bars, gummie bears and licorice bites) and coffee, pop or a cold beer was always offered. Many of the friends fondly calling her Mom or Grandma. Their bond filled a home filled with faith, generosity, and unconditional love—no matter what kind of differences, difficulties, or poor decisions that were made, Family is Family and Family comes First.
The couple enjoyed yearly vacations to Nebraska, lakeside Minnesota cabins, attending Ed’s Navy reunions (USS Columbus) or simply spending family time with their children and grandchildren. Holidays were festive and the house decorated for each occasion, but most important was the time spent together on Sunday’s. “Sunday dinner at Grandma’s”, lasted for decades, where Shirley prepared a Sunday meal for her daughters and their families. Shirley leaves behind her daughters: Sandra Kauphusman and Nancy (Terrence) Zittel and her grandchildren: Jade (James) Patrick, Tierney Houdek (Christopher Gray), Kyle (Nicole) Festler, Forrest Zittel & Foster Zittel (Clara Haugo), and great grandchildren: Owen and Kaylee Festler, Darwin, Roland, and Ansel Patrick, one great-granddaughter on the way, many nieces, and nephews as well a full circle of family, friends and acquaintances. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Ed, sisters: Delores (Peter) Whitney, Betty Dejno, and Donna Fritz and brother Gary (Mary) Braatz as well as the so many family members and lifelong friends.
Visitation will be held from 4 PM to 7 PM on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, at the Watkowski-Mulyck Funeral Home, 376 E. Sarnia St., Winona. Visitation will also be held at St. Luke’s Ev. Lutheran Church in Pickwick, on Wednesday, April 5, 2023, from 10 AM until the funeral service at 11 AM. Burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Winona. A luncheon and time for socializing will follow at the Winona Eagles Club, 210 East Fourth St., Winona.
Pallbearers will be the favorite ‘sons’ in her life: Terrence Zittel, Forrest Zittel, Foster, Zittel, James Patrick, Christopher Gray and Paul Houdek.
Shirley’s family would like to thank the staff at Gundersen for the wonderful service and care they provided to our mother, aka: Mom, Grandma, GG Grandma, and our Shirl Girl. She will be dearly missed however it gives us great peace to know that Mom and Dad are together once again.
Online condolences or memories may be left for Shirley’s family at www.watkowski-mulyck.com.